Two fairly active threads on Cory Arcangel, Paul B. Davis, and matters BEIGE: the conversation starts here and seems to be continuing here. So far Paddy Johnson's questions from last fall--about Untitled Translation Exercise in particular--aren't being answered, although some good points have been made overall. Once again some fairly persistent commenter(s) are avoiding the issues and accusing me of personal belligerence and hostility. This rather proves my point that the discussion around BEIGE these days isn't about issues but about declaring for or against certain artists. We need to get over this.

Update: A couple of comments about UTE have been made since I posted.

- tom moody 6-07-2007 11:13 pm

We don't need to get over 'taking sides.' There's nothing wrong with that.

I like certain artists (both personally and professionally) and don't feel it's necessary to quibble over this piece or that when their larger body of work is top-notch. I shouldn't be forced to crit my friends publicly in some quest for artistic purity or truth or some BS like that.

The critic's purpose is to crit & publish those crits. The artist's purpose is to create and exhibit those creations (and sell them). The critic may hinder the artist's purpose. When that happens, the artist isn't happy... is that a surprise?

I'm happy to have frank *public* discussions re: artists I don't know. If I know them, and especially if they're my friends, I also have no trouble taking sides in *public* discussions.

Critics shouldn't be friends with artists if they aren't prepared for artists to get miffed when they get a bad review from them.
- twhid (guest) 6-08-2007 12:15 am

oops. I should say that when institutions start taking sides for personal reasons it probably isn't a good thing.
- twhid (guest) 6-08-2007 12:23 am

I'm sorry if you think critique hinders an artist.

I get critiqued all the time--someone said about a music piece of mine "it seems like Cubase." Devastating, but also well, duh.
I stewed for a bit, made a witty comeback, but didn't accuse the commenter of unwarranted hostility towards a peer.

Also, you're assuming Cory's mad--maybe he's mature and welcomes the feedback. Do you know something I don't?
- tom moody 6-08-2007 1:31 am

It's not very generous to characterize my comments re: critique the way you did. Of course critiques can sometimes be helpful, but public critiques of an artist attempting to market their work? The negative probably outweighs whatever positive comes of it. I suppose that's to be judged on an individual basis.

I'm not accusing critics of being hostile, just doing what they do. To me it's similar to the legal system -- it's adversarial. Both critics and artists have their jobs.

Generally, artists don't like bad public reviews of their work (does anyone?). Personally, I like to take my crits when I ask from people I trust. I'm not trying to characterize how Cory felt about AFC's review.
- twhid (guest) 6-08-2007 1:50 am

Man, whatever happened to "I measure my criticism by the inch"?
The art world has been without criticism for so long you think it's aberrant--torpedo-ing an artist's sales.
What about truth? Is it good work or not?
Just because the art world uses auctions to value work you have to, too?
I've gotten bad print reviews. I curse the writer for a while, refuse to put the clip on my resume, then get over it and put it on my resume.
Someone's talking about my work, that's great!
Anyway, I'm a blogger. This blog is about an artist with opinions. Your assigned roles for people are print era vestiges.

The legal system is a good analogy. Except instead of artist vs critic, it's advocate vs advocate, trying to get at some truth, and then they go have a beer after the trial.

You don't accuse the other advocate of unwarranted personal hostility (not saying you have, but others did in the threads)--you have to see them the next day!
- tom moody 6-08-2007 2:10 am

On the subject of adversarialness between critics and artists: I had a friend tell me once that while he understood if I felt strongly enough about his work to write a negative review about his work, I should know that if I did we would no longer be friends. In a perfect world that wouldn't be the case, but generally speaking I assume an artist will be pissed if I say something negative in a public forum. Who wouldn't? The variable of course is how long that anger lasts.

Not that I need to explain this, but personally I prefer to run the risk of someone getting angry with me and be friends with artists because I feel like I understand their work and their objectives better if I am. I don't trust a lot critics precisely because they aren't steeped in artist culture and aren't forced to consider the work past how it exists in a 300 word write up.

- Paddy (guest) 6-08-2007 2:55 am

If you are an artist and a writer its pretty hard not to be friends with artists. I think critics who stay personally detached from artists have it easy. They also have more range to say how they feel. But the upside of artists writing about artists is a core-issues dialogue you don't get otherwise, a conversation.

I've had one extreme example of a fellow-artist and friend getting mad at me for a negative review. It took them about 10 years to get over it. At the time, they suggested that I should have spoken to them personally about my complaints, as a friend, before publishing. I still mull that one over. Maybe they were right.
- sally mckay 6-08-2007 4:41 am

Iím wondering if the idea of the clearing of the air here was to open a thread where itís safe to critique Coryís work negatively, or instead was to discuss the current environment of online yet seemingly centralized new media art critique and gangsterism. Or both?

- anonimouse (guest) 6-08-2007 7:00 pm

These comments are open to arguments pro, con or indifferent. The topic was Paddy Johnson's review and two institutions' choice not to reBlog it.
- tom moody 6-08-2007 7:21 pm

I'm not following this at all. Why would it be unsafe to criticize Cory negatively? Everyone should feel free to publicly give their opinion on an artist's work. But be prepared to defend your remarks and don't expect the artist to be happy about it. I'm just stating the obvious... what's the big deal?

re: institutions not reblogging PJ's review of Cory
To include Eyebeam isn't exactly fair as their reblog uses guest editors and the only control they exercise over it is picking those editors (I assume they retain the right to remove highly objectionable posts). Perhaps the editor simply overlooked it or didn't find it reblog-worthy for whatever reason.

Tom's overall point is correct. Institutions shouldn't be choosing topics to cover, artists to highlight or exhibitions to mount based on personal relationships. When he extended that argument to commenters here he took it to far. Individuals have every right to tailor whatever they might like to mention or argue over or pick sides based on their personal relationships.
- twhid (guest) 6-08-2007 7:36 pm

Is this the same "cory arcangel" you guys are talking about?

Sorry, but I think you're wasting your time. You shouldn't expect any relevant answers from the above lecturer.

BTW, a so called digital grafitti writer having his over-sensitive friends coming to his defense is so NOT hip-hop.
- boo! (guest) 6-08-2007 7:41 pm

I think the threads have nicely meandered pro/con/indiff opinions about the holy Arcangel. Is it suggested here though, that perhaps a restrictive, polarized environment was created as a result of events like institutionalized choices of what and what not to reblog, and belligerent and/or defensive write ups by members/friends of said institutions?
- anonimouse (guest) 6-08-2007 7:42 pm

reply to twids words...
You are right, 'safe' was probably too strong a word. Maybe 'comfortable' would have been a better one.
That is relevant about how Eyebeam blogging works. By using guests it probably greatly decreases the possibility of institutionalized agendas.
I think there was more to Tom's point. I don't think its as simple as whether 'personal relationships' exist or not within this current arena of critique.
- anonimouse (guest) 6-08-2007 8:21 pm

anonymous becomes anonimouse...a disguise morphs into a handle...
- sally mckay 6-08-2007 8:45 pm

twhid, I actually didn't say anything about Eyebeam or Rhizome having personal relationships with Arcangel.
I said not reBlogging Paddy's review "seems like a partisan and slightly juvenile snub." I'm not aware of either institution reBlogging pro-and-con Arcangel criticism so it's a pattern. Guest reBloggers or not (half of Eyebeam's seem to be staff or interns these days).
Also, I never said commenters here couldn't be "queer for Cory," to use your memorable phrase from a while back.
I was bemoaning that instead of answering Paddy's arguments they went right to the "Tom Moody is hostile" non-argument. It's just lame and proves my point that he does in fact have uncritical partisans.
- tom moody 6-08-2007 9:07 pm

Oh, and by the way, I attended the Columbia lecture boo! links to and it was superb.
Obviously my life would be simpler if I had the all or nothing approach to artists and didn't distinguish between works or shows.

- tom moody 6-08-2007 9:33 pm

Reactions to criticism are cultural - here in Ireland you don't criticise. If you do you risk excommunication. But I have a feeling we're all moving on and what Tom's doing will help. Part of the difficulty I have with some art work is it feels easy - in the sense of lacking complexity. We're in the middle of profound changes in the way we think and act and attractive pictures don't necessarily help with that - I think artists should be writing more and telling us more, listening too, and doing what I see a growing group of artists do which is get nearer to the centre of debates about how we are changing. For the first time in my life there is no core group of people rethinking politics,morality, the process of producing and consuming - the artists I know who are doing that have a really valuable role.
- haydn (guest) 6-09-2007 9:00 pm

Thanks, Haydn.
- tom moody 6-09-2007 10:12 pm

Hey, guys. I appreciate the meaningful parts of these threads, but just want to go on record and say in this thread (as I said here) that it is not appropriate to consider it an "institutional decision" when something does or does not get reblogged on Rhizome. On the day that Paddy's review came out, 15 Site Editors had the option of publishing Paddy's review. Only two of those were on staff and the rest were volunteers from different parts of the new media spectrum. This was no one person or organization's decision; nor was it a collective decision. Everyone's entitled to their opinion (if not, we would suffer a shortage of both art & art criticism!), but I find the words "partisan and slightly juvenile" off the mark, here.
- Marisa (guest) 6-11-2007 6:41 pm

Thanks for your comments, Marisa.

I think it would help if Rhizome and Eyebeam had comments to their reBlogs--that way a diversity of opinion could be presented without the bloggers feeling like they were "hindering the artist's purpose of creating and exhibiting creations (and selling them)."

Having said that, I have comments, and I'm still being criticized for criticizing so I can relate to not wanting to take the heat.
- tom moody 6-11-2007 7:54 pm

Haha. Well, it's not a matter of "taking the heat." We've had comment capability on our web development wishlist for a long time, but these things take time, for a variety of reasons.

Meanwhile, for the last ten years, Rhizome has maintained a very active listserv of people all over the world (artists, critics, curators, enthusiasts, etc) who want to discuss issues like these. Posts to that list are permanently archived online (and accessible via RSS) and are also fed into the hopper for the reblog, a second filtered list, and a weekly digest.

This is not a personal jab, but it does really irk me when people diss Rhizome without getting to know what we actually do, or without getting involved. If these folks are willing to "take the heat," they shouldn't just post on their own blogs about what is or isn't being discussed on Rhizome, they should start a discussion on Rhizome! :)
- Marisa (guest) 6-11-2007 10:12 pm

Hi, again, Marisa,
I've been following the RSS feed for Raw, occasionally I post something I find there. (eg, Baudrillard Tribute in Second Life).
I prefer the ease and fluidity of blog comments for discussions (as opposed to emails, which I have a hard time keeping track of--I guard my inbox pretty carefully).
After the disastrous experience Abe, Chris Ashley, jimpunk and I had with the Empyre listserv I've been leery of that vehicle.
Everybody was at cross purposes, with threads going this way and that as people sent out emails.
Here on the blog I've opted for "flat comments," so one has to follow another and to some extent you're compelled to be nice and respond to what was said before you instead of picking up ten comments back or starting flame wars I can't keep track of.
I'm very bullish on this way of talking about things so my conversations tend to be mostly on people's blogs as opposed to other forums.
I think it's important to have an institutional referee, validator, and content generator (with proper checks and balances), which is why I pay close attention to Rhizome and Eyebeam whether or not I participate directly.
You're doing a great job or I wouldn't have dragged y'all into this.
- tom moody 6-11-2007 11:05 pm

Not to dump on rhizome, a place I enjoy, but I heard that they recently did away with all the site editor volunteers. Only staff can reblog now. Does this make it MORE institutional? The grey area between institutional vs collaborative publishing and curation, especially within the field of new-media art, is interesting to me.
- anonymous (guest) 6-12-2007 1:27 am

And to be fair, I would ask, is the Tom Moody Blog becoming more institutional over time? What does this question even mean?
- anonymous (guest) 6-12-2007 1:33 am

I, too, fired all my site editors.
- tom moody 6-12-2007 1:48 am

"I, too, fired all my site editors."

Traffic = Institutionalization = 1 / Collaborative Participation = Defensible Art Superstar Probability = Quality(*i)

(where i is the imaginary number)

- anonymous (guest) 6-12-2007 2:14 am

"Collaborative Participation" should read "Collaborative Control"
...just a side note for the patent lawyers.
- anonymous (guest) 6-12-2007 2:23 am

Unfortunately the spammer dickheads found this thread so I'm going to have to close it (an action described by a friend as "fascist"--hey I don't like it either but I have to live with this, not you, and I don't like those captcha thingies--we're more open around here than most so kindly back off with the opinions). The original threads on this subject are still open.
- tom moody 6-20-2007 7:09 pm