The post on the Rhizome 2007-2008 commissions as XYZ Art (reblogged here, thanks cpb) elicited the following response:
Don't see how XYZ relates solely to these types of new media projects. Painting, sculpture, photography, many mediums use a trial-error process similar to science. For instance one commonly develops a style or signature process (the algorithm), often paying big gradschool dollars for it, then alters X strokes or colors, looks at the Z surface, changes X some, then goes for the super awesome Z for the finish. - ssr
And my reply:
That's funny, but we're not talking about a trial-error process. It's more like one application: a single transformation of something into something that "helps others."

The art world equivalent would be a conceptual art work, something like Meg Cranston's Who's Who by Size, University of California Sample, 1994, where different fabric-covered sculptural stacks (Z) represent the number of inches of shelf space (X) that a subject (Edgar Allen Poe, Elvis Presley, etc) has in a college library. The algorithm or (Y) is assigning a fabric to the subject (Anna Pavlova in ballet slipper satin, etc) and making the stacks. The work has a point, and one point only, to show intuitively that "size matters" in assessing one's historical reputation. (I got this example and some of the description from the book Deep Storage, ed. by Ingrid Schaffner and Matthias Winzen.)

Grad schools turning out cookie cutter painting is rather a different issue.

- tom moody 6-18-2007 9:59 pm

mmm not that different, just money replacing the "something that helps others".

While I'm hesitant to denounce xyz as bad, alitte personality would go along way.
- anonymous (guest) 6-19-2007 3:57 am

grad school = XYZ ?

sounds like the ramblings of an insecure "new media" apologist.

But then again, if I didn't want to see shitty artwork... I wouldn't visit grad school studios nor rhizome/eyebeam. So I guess they have more in common than I had originally thought.
- poster (guest) 6-19-2007 5:48 am

No you got the formula wrong.
grad school = Y (and sometimes X)
Peculiar idea this XYZ. So the X and Z is not something that is altered throughout the making of the piece, more like mapped variables? If lots of conceptual art easily breaks down to a formula, then is conceptual art dead? Or maybe just smelling funny?
Yeah, I don't see XYZ as necessarily bad, but the 'helps others' part is a little scary.
- ssr (guest) 6-19-2007 6:53 pm

Mapped, predetermined variables. As in--you know what's going in, you know what's coming out, and the transforming algorithm makes someone say "man you've got some skilz." But that's not enough--you have to use your skilz to help others. The first five or so pieces on my Rhizome list bear this out, I think.

If you don't know what's going to happen, or if the result of your process is a conclusion such as "eugenic legislation is necessary to save the planet" then it's not XYZ as I'm defining it.

- tom moody 6-19-2007 7:27 pm

that would be ZZZ.
- bill 6-19-2007 8:30 pm

- tom moody 6-19-2007 8:32 pm

you could also apply the XYZ method to art criticism: take artwork X, apply categorization schema Y, produce art review Z.
- anonymous (guest) 6-21-2007 11:52 pm

You could, but some specifics would help.
I'm not sure there are any categorization schema any more except the old reliable, "mere description."
- tom moody 6-22-2007 12:46 am

Right. Then why are you using the XYZ schema to critique art? As a critical process, it is more reductionist than the creative processes that you are criticizing.
- anonymous (guest) 6-22-2007 1:12 am

Well, we disagree, there.

I'm flattered if you think XYZ is a critical methodology, or as you say "categorization schema."

I think the point of your comments is that it would be better not to question the Rhizome commissions.

Either that or there are so many other ways of critiquing them being articulated out there that mine should be disregarded as the weakest alternative.

- tom moody 6-22-2007 2:02 am

Oh, well, the spammers have told me it's time to close this thread, sorry.
- tom moody 7-01-2007 2:56 am