Posts Tagged ‘web’

Monday, May 17th, 2010

In “Free Art,” a text by the Jogging, it is suggested that the Web’s economy of re-blogging and fast-paced communal interaction creates its own economic model and, thus, its own best practices for understanding how value around work is accrued.

Furthermore, it is thought that the art world – even if it did acknowledge this work – would not know what to do with it as this online economy is alien to its own – premised as it is on the exchange of materially sensual objects for amounts of (financial) capital unavailable to all but the most wealthy members of society.

Jogging writes:

In the lives of contemporary artists, Free Art is a place to find one’s self through the existence of others – to individually reclaim the ability to self-mythologize and empathetically pick from your peers for influence. Thus, Free Art is marked by the compulsive urge of searching (or, surfing) to connect with others in a way that is not dictated by profitability, but found and shared charitably among individuals based on personal interests.


A couple of thoughts:

I’m not sure that the Web is any less tainted by economics than the art market. The re-blogging format preferred by Jogging did not appear out of nowhere; power relations are alive and well (t)here as one might say that all of this activity is ultimately in the service of market research for corporations.

Meanwhile, the world of contemporary art is obviously not perfect, but it’s not entirely dominated by auctions and abusive gatekeeping, either.

And if one is interested in placing their creative endeavors on the Web in both the most critically sympathetic as well as the most critically astute environment possible (the environment in which it will be judged as more than style alone), one can’t so easily dismiss the art world as it has been thinking about these questions very seriously for a very long time.

Furthermore, the work will (if it is as good as it thinks it is) end up back in the art system as salable objects; the question here, then, is how much control does the artist exert over this entry into the system.

This is just to say that the conversation occurring inside the art world is worth taking a second look at before one abandons it outright.

Also, Jogging’s reference to the immaterial or de-materialized quality of the work is problematic.

For the sake of argument (and it is debatable), let’s say that – yes – a virtual .jpeg of a sculpture is immaterial – free of the problems of aura and material commodification which the sculpture depicted in the .jpeg itself affords.

But, what about the hardware displaying this content?

The notion that the Web has accomplished some sort of Hegelian transcendence is precisely what, say, Steve Jobs wants consumers to believe:

Go on, keep chatting with your friends, watching videos, listening to music – it’s all fluid and immaterial now and that’s great – just so long as you do so through the iPad.

These devices which display the work which Jogging thinks of as lacking aura, are, in fact, highly susceptible to aura or, from a slightly different angle, fetishism.

One can’t wait to get home and log-on to their machine, touch it, ride the time of computing cycles; anytime the threat of boredom creeps in, one can immediately start fingering their iPhone, dexterously running their hands all over it in the hopes of generating more immaterial content.

Indeed, perhaps one could think of the endless stream of a blog as lubricant – sweet nothings in one’s ear, easing one’s entry into a more rhythmically sustained fingering of their device.

This is just to say that the materiality of digital culture is worth taking a second look at before one denies its presence outright.

Now all that said (and on the other hand), there’s another consideration which comes into play here:

“Free Art” was posted on the Jogging Tumblr on May 12th, 2010.

In the five days which have passed since the 12th, Jogging has posted six additional unique works – each possessing their own unique power and each propelling my own following of their posting (as in an on-going performance).

As a matter of fact, this immediacy and performative enthusiasm is relatively more exciting (to me, anyway) than most things happening in most of the shows advertised via, say, e-flux.

Which is precisely the effect which Jogging describes in their text.

An anxiety arises:

I have some issues with the idea, but I’m compelled to follow it nonetheless.

That is to say, it can’t be dismissed outright as the artists demonstrate it for me, placing it directly in front of me, demanding my acknowledgment.

And through this acknowledgment, I may never quite decide for certain if the idea of Free Art is naïve or pioneering (or both), but I may be infected by it, nonetheless.

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.

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Since April 28, 2008, Joel Holmberg has posted one hundred and seven (and counting) questions to Yahoo! Answers.

If one skips back to the first of the chronologically-organized questions posed by the artist in early 2008, one views three general, relatively straightforward questions regarding the subject of coffee in a category termed:

“Non-Alcoholic Drinks.”

However, in his following (often funny, koan-like) questions posed throughout the course of his performance, Holmberg branches-out his performed investigation into multiple question categories such as, for example, “Other – Society and Culture,” “Laptops and Notebooks,” and “Other – General Health Care,” which each catalyze a different set of responses to the act of “answering” a question.

The “Philosophy” category, for example, is more logically precise than the “Religion and Spirituality” category which is more emotionally-charged than the “Etiquette” category which is more polite than the “Other – Internet” category which is more nerdy than the “Other – Visual Arts” category which is more artsy than the “Men’s Health” category and so on and so on and so on and so on.

Throughout his performance, Holmberg explicitly explores these categorical-discrepancies by asking the same question in multiple categories.

For example, he asks the question “How do you occupy space?” in the “Physics,” “Other-Environment,” “Other-Internet,” “Military,” and “Wrestling” categories.

In each category, one views a unique approach to language and the act of “answering” a question.

The work, in the end, may be less about showing one answers and more about showing one the different answer categories we constantly shift in and out of through our lives.

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Between the work 10 Seconds to Each Point and the work Lateral Crossings Damon Zucconi leapt between one form and then another.

In 10 Seconds to Each Point he describes a unit of time – 10 seconds.

In the course of viewing the work, one begins to view less the motion through space of a small orb and more the time of the orb’s cycles between contact with one line intersection and then another – 10 seconds.

In Lateral Crossings, on the other hand, he describes a unit of time occurring within a broader spectrum of 16 concurrent units of time – each unit placed according to its location within the represented scale of chronologically-ordered time units in the spectrum.

In the course of viewing the work, one begins to view less the temporal rhythm of a single orb and more the simultaneity of multiple temporal rhythms framing the spatial motion of multiple orbs.

It’s a more structurally complicated picture of time.

Now that said, I don’t know if Lateral Crossing is “better” than 10 Seconds to Each Point because both works are limited in describing temporal objects – they’re just pictures.

Rather, if one was tasked to name the art of Zucconi’s work here, one might say that it occurs neither in Lateral Crossings nor in 10 Seconds to Each Point, but rather out (t)here on his personal website where one follows his leap from one form of life to another.

The leap – the artist’s performed mutation – is the only thing that I know I viewed.

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

In Tinypic Video Thumbnails, an 85 page artist’s book and .pdf by Travis Hallenbeck, the artist explores the convention of the thumbnail – the still image representation of an uploaded video file (in this case, the thumbnails generated by the video hosting service Tinypic) – and re-presents his own subjective response to them through the display of over 5,000 appropriated thumbnails organized in 6 X 10 grids which almost completely fill all but the first and final pages of the book.

Perhaps the initial thing to be said about the project is that pouring over this massive volume of thumbnails in densely packed grids effectively conveys the sense of surfing through a video website – an experience premised on scanning through hundreds of thumbnails, critically resisting the urge to click on a single one, waiting for the “right” video to catch one’s eye.

However, unlike the heterogeneous mass of thumbnails encountered in a conventional surf, Hallenbeck’s images are:

1. All singularities in their own right:

One views a medium-wide framing on a ten-year old girl in faded blue jeans and a striped tank-top holding a brown clay bowl in the middle of a backyard garden in circa 1970s film stock; a medium-wide framing on a fist-fight between two young men in their 20’s wearing baggy shorts in the middle of the woods shot on marginally pixelated digital camcorder imagery; a medium framing inverted 90 degrees on the sunlight pouring through a floral-patterned curtain illuminating a cat jumping over an armchair in an otherwise black room shot on relatively sharp digital video.

Each image resists being swallowed wholesale by the database as each one affords the viewer something to hold onto – Barthes may have called it a punctum – that which pricks one.

2. Intentionally patterned – there’s a structural order that emerges from the chaos here.

Hallenbeck seems to have narrowed down the iconography of his surf to a few key themes, which appear regularly through the grid. Here is a representative sampling:

1. Young people getting fucked up at random times of the day or generally goofing off

2. Skateboarding video imagery

3. Pixelated digital imagery

4. Obsolete technologies

5. Minimal abstractions derived from glitches in technology

6. Swimming pools

7. Empty wide shots of natural settings

8. Empty baseball fields

9. Empty bedrooms

10. Empty living rooms

The first two themes – youthful goofing around and skateboarding – lend the pattern a light, often humorous, and positive vibe.

However, these positive images are generally surrounded on all sides of the pattern by the heavy, melancholic, and negative imagery identified in the subsequent categories listed above.

The result is, on the one hand, a bummer: it seems to swallow the hope and freedom associated with youthful debauchery and skateboarding up in the surliness of empty rooms, landscapes and technological glitches.

It’s nostalgia for a past time, but a bitter nostalgia.

On the other hand, there is another relationship to time in Tinypic Video Thumbnails.

The work is a labor – a daily, almost religious, performance lived in the present of each moment, as Hallenbeck surfs, scans, and reflects back on the database.

One feels the volume of images, of course; but one also feels the volume of time spent sifting through images, the performance of the surf as an intentional work of art.

Perhaps one could say that the secret message of the book is this affirmation of daily web surfing.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

10 Seconds to Each Point, a work of time-based Web browser art by Damon Zucconi, describes 10 seconds in the Web browser.

At first glance, though, one doesn’t view the time of these 10 seconds, but rather, the movement through space of a small red orb with a white center – perhaps the “eye” of the Hal 9000 computer? – as it linearly bounces through and glides along the edges and intersections of a rectangular black plane.

One quickly realizes that the speed of the ball as it bounces between the walls, though, is not premised on physics (as in, say, Pong), but rather a uniform amount of time: 10 seconds.

The title of the work nudges you to this.

10 Seconds to Each Point.

That’s what it says.

So one wonders:

Is it really ten seconds to each point?

Let’s count.

“1 second”

“2 seconds”

“3 seconds”

“4 seconds”

“5 seconds”

“6 seconds”

“7 seconds”

“8 seconds”

“9 seconds”

“10 seconds”


“1 second”

“2 seconds”

“3 seconds”

“4 seconds”

“5 seconds”

“6 seconds”

“7 seconds”

“8 seconds”

“9 seconds”

“10 seconds”


“1 second”

“2 seconds”

“3 seconds”

“4 seconds”

“5 seconds”

“6 seconds”

“7 seconds”

“8 seconds”

“9 seconds”

“10 seconds”


“1 second”

“2 seconds”

“3 seconds”

“4 seconds”

“5 seconds”

“6 seconds”

“7 seconds”

“8 seconds”

“9 seconds”

“10 seconds”


Every time the orb “pops” – dictated by the time unit of ten seconds – one feels a pleasurable violation.


Again, again, again, again.





It’s the rhythm one responds to.

And as one feels this pleasure, one begins to makes a picture of it.

10 seconds.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Watching feature length movies shows one “the two hours,” “the hour-and-a-half,” and “the three hours” and if one views enough feature length movies one begins to develop a picture in their own mind(s) regarding these lengths of time. “This is what two hours feels like.”

Thus, when a feature length movie is successful it perfectly corresponds with the picture in one’s own mind of “the two hours,” “the hour and a half,” or the “the three hours.”

(That is to say, it finishes at the same you do.)

But what about other lengths of time?

Well, television figured out that we could be trained to picture “the hour,” “the half-hour,” and “the thirty seconds” and it began to regulate these particular time-units vigorously.

Thus, the joy of good television is the spasm of correspondence between the episode or commercial’s account of “the hour,” “the half-hour,” or “the thirty seconds” and one’s own trained picture of “the hour,” “the half-hour,” or “the thirty-seconds.”

When one downloads an entire season of Mad Men, for instance, one begins to get off less on the content of the individual episodes and more on the rhythm of the individual episodes in succession as each one fills in “the 48 minutes” again and again and again and again as versions on a theme.

What time, though, does the digital network picture?

On the one hand, everything’s gotten shorter:

Blog posts are short, videos are short, news articles are headlines.

However, on the other hand, everything’s gotten longer.

One blog post is merely a version on a theme developed in an ongoing performance inhabiting “the several months and years.”

Does the digital network, then, polarize one’s desires for time – make you crave for both the instantaneous and the epic?

Make it schizophrenic?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

A functionality of YouTube is to automatically select as a given video’s thumbnail the frame of the video in the exact middle of its temporal runtime – no matter what the frame’s content or how much relevance it affords the theme of the video.

So there could be a video in which two old men are having a picnic in the park and the thumbnail could be some randomly blurred image of a bunch of grass which happened to be the exact middle of the video.

This convention’s absurdity, which might be described as a Web 2.0 perversion of the movie poster, is regularly exploited by YouTube users who will insert a single frame of a girl in a bikini in the exact middle of a video in order to get more views.

At times, though, the default YouTube thumbnail has a certain unintended power in its own right.

When one uploads a webcam vlog to YouTube, for instance, the thumbnail is often an image of one’s self which one would never think to choose as their personal online representation.

Perhaps one’s eyes are closed or one is in the middle of an expression that distorts one’s facial features in an un-becoming manner. This un-intended, un-becoming-ness might create an anxiety – it shows me what I look like – out of control; not becoming.

It is a portal to see how things look. A post Internet photography.

The light catches a bowl of rice in a living room filled with cigarette smoke; a family unloads a red bike from a station wagon as a blue bike whizzes by; a Scottish teenager’s eyes catch the lens of the camera directly, allowing one to see her.

One of the unspoken dynamics of surfing through YouTube is that, by and large, most all interaction with video online is conducted through these secret messages, these unintended crystallizations, which afford one, not the theme of the video, but a random moment – a glimpse into a world which never agreed to be glimpsed in such a naked way.

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.