Archive for the ‘kevinbewersdorf’ Category

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Kevin Bewersdorf was doing okay for himself.

1. He was a co-founder of the Internet surf club Spirit Surfers.

2. He was developing a prolific and popular collection of photography, texts, performance pieces, and music on his website

3. He had (amongst other exhibitions of his physical work) a solo show at the V&A Gallery in New York, and a two-person show with Guthrie Lonergan at the well-known And/Or Gallery in Dallas.

In short, Bewersdorf was building an impressively dense archive of work with a strongly growing reputation both on and off the Internet.

(He had good “stats.”)

What, then, to make of his decision in early 2009 to take this archive of work off of the Internet, destroying it as well as whatever traces he could find of it left, and replacing it with a single work – an in-progress performance piece he calls PUREKev?

PUREKev is a highly-focused, three-year long performance in which Bewersdorf very gradually diminishes the size of his artistic avatar – a looping clip of over-exposed home video footage depicting a firecracker flickering – against an (International Klein?) blue field over which it flickers.

There’s something poetic about this idea which draws one to its premises and, then, carries one beyond the auto-destructive act which preceded it.

Still, though, what justifies the relatively extreme length of three years?

Would one, after a year, of watching Bewersdorf’s little light growing smaller and smaller, still care?

And, indeed, that’s the gambit of the work:

Bewersdorf made a wager that there is something to his gesture which – despite its simplicity – is intriguing enough for one to follow and keep following, each return a new wave of illumination into the work’s significance.

In my own experience of the work, this is – so far – true.

I can’t say that I look at everyday or even every month, but I do return to it every now and again on a somewhat regular basis (as in a pilgrimage) and, when I do so, I never leave satisfied or dis-satisfied, but, rather, pleasantly held in suspension – not sure where to put my finger, but interested in fingering it nonetheless.

When I go to the site today (April 6th, 2010), I – at first – don’t view the flickering light at all.

Rather, I view a blue void through which I scroll to – then – find the little, flickering light at the bottom of the page, surrounded by blue.

As I’ve followed Bewersdorf’s performance, its value to me has begun to reside less in the tracking of his flickering light and more in its tracking of the field upon which it flickers.

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Kevin Bewersdorf wrote a series of texts such as “The Four Sacred Logos” and “Spirit Surfing” which merged corporate motivational speaking tropes with a vision of the Internet as a spiritual space.

These texts are now lost – erased from the Web by Bewersdorf himself.

If one is to speak about them, then one must remember them.

The way I remember them is that they made a claim – the Internet is a space of spiritual movement – and then they cross that claim out by wrapping it up in a shtick which points to loss – loss of any hope one may have had for the Internet as corporations changed the Internet into a giant Wall Mart.

Bewersdorf’s use of the word “logos” in the “Four Sacred Logos” texts is an example of how this works.

It’s a pun.

On the one hand, there are “logos” (plural) as in branding devices such as the Nike “swoosh.”

Bewersdorf designed “sacred” corporate logos for each of his texts which are not unlike the corporate logos found in erectile dysfunction medication pamphlets at the doctor’s office.

On the other hand, there is also “logos” (singular) which is something like the primordial divine truth through which all creation emerges as described in ancient philosophy and theology.

Bewersdorf’s logos of the logos cancel each sense of “logos” out in endless loops of belief and skepticism.

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

For Kevin Bewersdorf, what is of consequence in the sculptures he showed at the V&A gallery in New York is less the object and more the surf through data that led to the object.

He writes:

[…] most art consumers are very wrapped up in the material world of restaurants and nice coats and taxis waiting outside the gallery. I care very little about the material world, and I’m completely certain that the most profound experiences in life can’t be contained by gallery walls, so the art object in “gallery space” for me can only represent a limitation, a disappointment.

I try to deal with this by presenting the object itself as pathetic and mediocre, but the information it conducts as sacred.


By reducing the sculpture’s physical appearance to kitsch, but contextualizing it as the product of a “sacred” Internet surf, Bewersdorf is able to say something about art that goes beyond technology: the aura of an art object is often not its phenomenological properties, but rather its testimony to a creative process.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Kevin Bewersdorf intentionally reduced his presence on the Web to a single image – a flickering flame sourced from a .gif of fireworks set off in front of a suburban garage. Over the course of three years, this flickering flame will grow smaller and smaller into a field of Yves Klein Blue.

It’s called PUREKev.

As one returns to the work again and again and again – not daily (although, perhaps daily) – one views a mutation in time as the flicker goes deeper and deeper and deeper into the void.

The website goes in the exact opposite direction of most Internet production, focusing on slow, imperceptible change over the course of years. By doing so, it allows one to see (as if for the first time) what it opposes. The extremity of Bewersdorf’s slowing-down nudges the viewer to project their own image of what “normal” time on the Internet feels like. It’s the creation of the image in the viewer’s mind that allows her to see what this time looks like.

There’s something unsettling about viewing PUREKev and returning to it every now and again. It’s always there – always going a little bit deeper, but never quite finishing. As the rest of the Internet is in a race to produce more and more, Bewersdorf’s resolute focus on one thing – watching a flame die out in a blue void over several years – is sublime.

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Writing about Kevin Bewersdorf’s work prior to 2009 is difficult.

Bewersdorf erased his website,, as well as all of the texts, photos, songs and documentation of sculptures that were housed on the site.

While there are scattered traces of his thought floating in various blogs, the ability to view the scope and meaning of it is greatly diminished.

If this work is to survive, then, one must attempt to translate it – piece together his project in one’s own words, from one’s own memories of it.

It’s a difficult thing and it forces one to consider work in more depth than one typically would.

When art is on the Internet, there is a tendency to always put off viewing it or understanding it in-depth because it is always at-hand. The viewer knows that, without any real effort, she can view it tomorrow when there is more time.

If the work is taken off of the Iunternet, though, then the viewer must really consider it and try to understand it in a more serious way. It creates an urgency.

However, one question is: Why go to all this trouble? What would be worth this effort?

One answer is: Go to all the trouble when the work is, like a ghost in an attic, haunting.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Kevin Bewersdorf has said that art now is based, not on art objects or individual projects, but rather on “persona empires,” which are the brands that artists develop over time.

He writes:

Whether a net artist brands themself with a sparse list of links on a humble white field or with loud layers of noise and color or with contrived logos in a bland grid, they are constructing their own web persona for all to see. They are branding their self corporation. I think this self branding can be done with functionless art intentions rather than functioning business intentions. All the marketing materials are just shouted into the roaring whirlpool of the web where they swirl around in the great database with everyone else’s personal information empires. I think these persona empires are the great artworks of our time, and they inspire me to keep building my own brand.


Bewersdorf is an important post Internet artist because he realized very clearly that the quality of art on the Internet is not measured in individual posts but in the artist’s performance through time, through their brand management. On Facebook, a user is judged, not by one status update, but rather by their style and pace of updating. The same is true for post Internet artists.