This is where we'll do our best to keep you up-to-date on what we're doing at artnetweb
29 July 1996It's always a relief
to read the obits in
the morning and not find
your name listed alongside your
high school yearbook picture...
Just because you happen to wake up breathing there's nothing wrong with some confirmation that you still officially exist. And we may be paranoid but don't there seem to be more and more opportunities for an unexpected death these days?
That's probably why we so obsessively use Alta Vista, typing in every possible variation on our name to see what comes up (or with whom we share our online identity).
We may not be in Who's Who but are on the home page of the Brooke High School Art Department in West Virginia. Mr. White and Mrs. Baker deserve a gold medal for staying in the race for twenty years. (And, yes, Mr. White, we'll remember to wash our brushes out before the end of class!)
Then again, sometimes your words come back to haunt you...
But, still, nothing beats your name preserved with ink smeared on dead trees. Our beloved founder and spiritual leader Remo Campopiano is one of the artists in 19 Projects: Artists-in-Residence at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, a ten-year retrospective of installations by artists at the MIT Media Lab. Other artists include Ann Hamilton, Robert Cumming and Mabou Mines. It's available from the List Center and a web site has been mentioned.
15 July 1996July is half over and we've survived the onslaught of both Hurricane Bertha and SLATE . . .
As survivalists we immediately stripped the local deli of bottled water and potato chips and covered the windows with plywood but we needn't have worried. SLATE was hardly the threat the forecasters imagined and the article on how promiscuity could actually help curb the spread of AIDS sent us surfing the online personal ads in search of a francophile date for Bastille Day.
Unusually optimistic words emanated from the AIDS Conference in Vancouver about new drug combinations that will contain the virus if you happen to be able to afford them. But, being New Yorkers, we're used to life's necessities being put out of our reach and we've also learned that within the year only by working for Bill Gates will you be able to afford an apartment anywhere in this city. This rise in rents is do to the increase in jobs driven by, among other sectors, multimedia startups in Silicon Alley, where no one we know is making any money.
Not only are we survivalists but we're also traditionalist and that's why we refuse to watch the Olympics in Atlanta unless the athletes compete naked like Zeus intended. We understand the Olympian gods are in serious negotiations with Pixar Studios and promise more than lightening bolts in the future if we don't return to traditional family values.
Like the House of Atreus?
* * *
Back at the storefront we're starting to build the next stage of artnetweb using metaworld technologies. By the time CyberSoho rolls around again in September we'll have a lot of new and exciting projects to demonstrate. In the meantime, we're hunkering down with the AC on and learning VRML.
24 June 1996The only thing that bothered us about not winning an I-Magic award last week was missing the opportunity to talk shop with Bob Vila at the awards ceremonies...
Otherwise we're pretty sure it's a good thing that artnetweb isn't considered to be in the same cutting-edge league as the perpetually cute Rodney Alan Greenblatt and the industry flunkys at c|net. And we're not sure we could have controlled ourselves if we had to share the stage at the black-tie ceremony with a dancer performing an interpretive dance to new media.
Mr. Vila, on the other hand, is just the kind of guy we need around as we build an internet we can live in for a while. Sure those multimedia Martha Stewarts know how to perk up a room but give us Bob down on his hands and knees under the porch checking out the foundation.
If we were in the business of handing out awards we'd certainly hand one to Bob Vila and we'd give one as well to his art world counterpart, Alan Kaprow. Like a good builder Kaprow checked out the foundation of art in the sixties, decided it was in need of shoring up and invented what he then called "Happenings" -- purposeful activities that could be game-like, ritualistic or purely contemplative.
What really mattered, he decided, was not creating objects for contemplation, evaluation or sales but the blurring of Art and Life into one seemless aesthetic, a very American philosophy expoused by Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Dewey years earlier. Kaprow has spent years elaborating his ideas and seeing them result in a great deal of bad performance art and fuzzy theorizing by others but like so many things these days the internet has proved to be a medium adequate to the demands of his ideas.
In that spirit we've rethought our READINGS section as a combination newsstand/library for ideas to build with. Hey, we'll bet even Bob Vila has to look things up every once in a while.
10 June 1996We'd like to take this opportunity
to gleefully ignore all those who have
been egregiously overlooked
and thank the folks at Speared Peanut Design
for giving us this lovely award
We've never met Kristina and Paul Kremer of Speared Peanut but we're sure they, too, are lovely. Besides, we feel a summer romance cooking and it's always a good sign when someone you think is lovely thinks that you, too, are lovely. It sort of makes things easier.
And it sort of makes up for our not being shortlisted for the $50,000 Hugo Boss Award given by the Guggenheim Museum. Well, maybe next year. Meanwhile congrats to Laurie Anderson (who, by the way, we also think is lovely and will now remember to greet her with warm enthusiasm whenever we pass on the Soho streets), Janine Antoni, Cai Guo Qiang, Yasumasa Morimua, Matthew Barney and Stan Douglas.
We still think the Guggenheim is, you guessed it, lovely and welcome the online sites for their Africa and Mediascape exhibitions to artnetweb this week.
We also extend a hearty digital handshake to the New York Sculpture Center as they climb aboard. And be sure to experience Delirium from the Ricco/Maresca Gallery.
We hope a lovely time is had by all.
27 May 1996
Summer has officially arrived in Soho even if the calendar says we still have a month to go of Spring. The Memorial Day Weekend means this year's art party is finally over and we can all escape to our houses in the Hamptons to recuperate.
the artnetweb beach house
Well, maybe next summer.
Actually, we sort of like spending the summer in New York City. The heat and humidity give us the perfect excuse to dress sloppily and not go anywhere we don't absolutely have to.
The last (and only) time we were invited to the Hamptons these didn't seem to be viable options. Hamptonites relax with continuous socializing and their idea of dressing down is, unfortunately, our idea of dressing up. By the end of our stay we were exhausted from all that relaxation. We were never invited back anyway.
In case you won't be making the trek to Basel next month for the art fair we have the online exhibit by Susan Weil for the James Joyce Symposium called "Ear's Eye for James Joyce". This web site is a collaboration with Adrianne Wortzel and can be found in her new THEORICON area. Adrianne has promised more to come over the summer (guess she's not going to the Hamptons either) so be sure to check THEORICON regularly.
Our storefront at 426 Broome is changing daily thanks to the ant colony we've installed in the front window. We'll be serving up digital images of their progress shortly and we've even toyed with the idea of changing our name to antnetweb.
We see the ants as a metaphor for the internet because individually they can't do much but collectively they're creative. Remo, G.H. and I are, in turn, collaborating with the ants, each other and anyone who walks through the door in an ongoing exploration of our ideas about interactivity and the internet. It's not a gallery exhibit but more of a collective studio where we hope to show people not just what we do but how we create.
We'll be working in the space through the summer so drop by and say hello on your way to the beach!
13 May 1996
A Sliced Pig
Pork Barrel Art . . .
Damien Hirst finally made it to New York with an exhibition at Gagosian Soho called "No Sense of Absolute Corruption." His show scheduled for last fall was cancelled because the New York City Health Department wouldn't grant a poetic license for Hirst's displays of rotting meat. New York health inspectors are notoriously bribable with cakes and other restaurant fare so maybe it's a sign of art's broadening appeal that they found something they wanted in an art gallery.
Nothing affirms life for me better than art obsessed with death so I'm a natural for the Hirst aesthetic demographic, even the sliced pig. My only fear after seeing a few works over the past couple of years and reading all the art mag hype was that he'd be a Brit Jeff Koons -- all distant cool irony.
I need not have worried. After years of being put down by Koons, nagged at by Jenny Holzer and forced to relive the childhood abuse of everybody else it's a relief to walk into Hirst's world. He smokes cigarettes without apology, has difficulty with relationships and wonders what the inside of a pig looks like. And he visualizes it with the aplomb of a philosophizing barfly combined with the showmanship of a P.T. Barnum -- with perfect timing and pitch.
Meanwhile, the spring art auctions are over. It was the best season since the art market boom ended in 1990 though none of the $225 million haul seemed to make it into my bank account.
That, of course, means the equation art = money is back in play. First sign was the political hay made by New York Governor Pataki over money spent on art for New York City public school buildings instead of books. The media picked up the ball as well with shots of puzzled school kids and irate parents being informed that some "artist" was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for that hunk of painted metal on the roof while they make do with history books ending with the Kennedy assassination. Art as political decoration.
No mention that the reason there aren't new books is that New York State drains the funds for them from the city schools. It's hard to visualize a pork barrel. Perhaps Damien Hirst would have a few suggestions.
The CHALKBOARD forum has a new look: I have a section called land and GH has utopia
If you're in Brooklyn on Saturday, May 18th stop by the ROTUNDA Gallery, 33 Clinton Street from 11 to 4 and help us build a web and MOO site based on the theme of UTOPIA.
6 May 1996
didn't get a
again this year . . .
And I even know the difference between the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (they give away money) and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (they own the Frank Lloyd Wright building and ask people for money). John and Solomon were related in some way and both were kin of Peggy Guggenheim, who married Max Ernst and liked to ride around the canals of Venice in her gondola.
I suppose it would have helped to send in an application. Why can't they just use an old one? Things haven't changed that much in a year. I'm not Picasso. I'm not even Bob Ross.
At one point in my life, very early on when I was pure and innocent, I honestly believed that if you filled out all the forms and sent in the slides every year you would, eventually, get a nice chunk of change as a reward for your determination and belief in institutional wisdom -- not to mention your obvious genius.
I'm older now. I've learned how these things work and I want to let it be known that I am prepared to cooperate. Anyone on a panel that votes for me will get my vote the next year, and that's a promise! Now, will someone send me the correct form to fill out?
And, yes, we've been working. More like puttering, really, but that feels good right now. The online Utopia Project for the Rotunda Gallery May 18th is up and going. There are a number of new projects for the site in the works and should be showing up soon. And we're experimenting with methods of collaborative art linking in our storefront at 426 Broome Street, NYC. I think we're succeeding. People look in the window and point but no one has pulled up in a limousine and pleaded to buy anything we've done. We've retained our purity and innocence for the time being.
If only there was a grant for that.
29 April 1996
We induce bewilderment and force new methods of navigation in the resulting wilderness.
We don't solve problems.
We create them . . .
We thrive in a continual state of emergency.
We produce "objects-to-think-with" that can be physical, digital and intellectual all at the same time.
We set permissions:
We point and remember that three fingers point back at us.
We want to be your problem.
22 April 1996
Have it our way . . .
The Microsoft Network and Netscape want to let you have it your way just like Burger King. Both sites give you the option of creating your own customized home page to keep an inventory of your favorite links and other net necessities.
That's so nice of them!
It's so interactive.
We don't even particularly mind that they'll also keep track of what we like to do, so handy when advertisers ask for demographics. We always take time to answer those telephone pollsters when they call during dinner time, too. It makes us feel like we're part of a, you know, community. We're doing our part for the network!
And we're sure there isn't anyone like that creepy Jim Profit sitting naked at a computer screen in some dark control central blowing up our avatars.
Forget collaborative, self-organizing environments -- give us control over the lives of our enemies, real and potential.
In the meantime, we're thinking about art, creativity and what we could be doing if only we knew what to do. A global networked environment has great creative possibility but so far we haven't done much beyond drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa and passing it around online.
We may be blinded by staring at our computer screens too long. That's why we've instigated a project in our storefront (426 Broome Street, NYC) to see where the network exists offline as well as on. We'll let you know when we find a link.
And if we do happen to gain control over your lives in the process, we promise to be benevolent.
15 April 1996
Spring finally arrived in New York last Friday bearing fluffy clouds!
Life is beautiful and worth living again!
At least until the summer heat and humidity sets in and we scamper back to our air conditioned virtual reality pods . . .
Max Frazee joined GH, Adrianne Wortzel and me on ART DIRT Friday afternoon to talk about his art work based on serial killers. We toyed with the idea of creating a serial killer who only went after art critics but shelved the project for another day. We couldn't agree on the appropriate initial victim. And, besides, it was too nice outside for dark vengeful thoughts no matter how satisfying they are for an artist.
So I stare out the window instead, watch the fluffy clouds drift by and think of R. Buckminster Fuller. Bucky's in fashion again, something I see as a definite turn for the better. Who has time to plot death and destruction when there are geodesic domes to build and a better world for all because of them. Fluffy clouds bring out the dymaxion utopian in me.
Another cultural icon from my youth, Timothy Leary, will soon be joining Bucky among the fluffy clouds and word has it that he'll depart live over CUSeeMe on the Internet. No date yet so check in on his home page (http://www.leary.com) to say so long to the last of the genuine space cowboys.
Digital Telemedia Inc., one of our early supporters, is the host for the ALT.CULTURE site, a 900+ encyclopedia of 90s youth culture. It's never too early to be nostalgic about your lost youth.
8 April 1996Ted Kaczynski's neighbor of twenty years never asked him if he had a job.
She told the New York Times that he was friendly -- they'd wave hello to each other and exchange vegetables from their gardens -- but "It doesn't pay to snoop." The alledged Unabomber was able to conduct his secret business hiding out in the wide open spaces of Montana.
I'm sure his neighbor knows a great deal more about him than she's willing to tell a reporter. She doesn't want to be known as a snoop, which would be a social faux pas under the Big Sky where people mind their own business.
In New York City snooping is an art form valued enough to include on a resume. Perfect strangers will ask you the most personal questions as idle conversation and the sale of binoculars far exceeds the possible number of birdwatchers. We mind each others' business here. If the Unabomber lived here he'd have an agent and a book contract by now with a movie deal in the works.
I was raised not far from Mr. Kaczynski's isolated cabin but have lived in New York City for half my life and I'm intrigued by the differences in the concept of social interaction within and between the two very different environments, particularly with the intervention of computer networks.
The Internet could be the "middle between" Montana and New York. In our attempt to find out what this space may be like we've agreed to join in the following project linking the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada and the Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn, New York . . .
In association with the exhibition The Space of Information at the Banff Centre for the Arts (due north of Montana) artnetweb will invite visitors to the Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn, New York to help build a Web site based on ideas of Utopia on Saturday, May 18th. The project will immediately be posted online at http://artnetweb.com/rotunda. Visitors should bring short texts or materials that can be scanned on a flatbed scanner, while others may participate by sending small GIF or JPEG files (under 60k) to: email@example.com. A special session will be created for the day by Adrianne Wortzel on the PMC (Post Modern Culture) MOO, accessible via Telnet (hero.village.virginia.edu 7777, login as guest, then @go Rotunda).
At the Walter Phillips Gallery of the Banff Centre The Space of Information exhibit, organized by Laura Trippi of Drawing oN Air (dn/a), investigates the informational interface between computer networks and the built environment. With installations in the Gallery, on a Web site, and in satellite locales, the exhibition calls attention to the cultural encoding of space in different types of environments and to modes of organizing space and information emerging in the engagement with digital technology.
The Space of Information Web site opens May 9 at the dn/a site on äda 'web (http://adaweb.com/~dn/a). On May 23, the exhibition opens in Banff, along with an expanded mirrored Web site (http://www-nmr.BanffCentre.ab.ca/WPG/ gallery.html).
1 April 1996A friend claims he once upon a time accompanied French philosopher Michel Foucault to the Anvil . . .
the late-seventies New York shrine to polymorphous sexuality where patrons were allowed to do pretty much whatever they wanted with each other, but where the majority paid their cover charge to simply stand and observe like unobtrusive anthropologists.
Sounds like the Internet.
The Anvil and Foucault have since closed their doors and my friend can build whatever scenario he wishes about that night without fear of verification. He has chosen, however, to keep mum and offer only a knowing smile when asked so I've decided Foucault probably had himself lashed Odysseus-like to a column to listen while the sirens sang.
Well, maybe not.
These thoughts came to mind because of the recent flurry of attention given to "Life on the Screen" by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle -- a book I've yet to read but have read a great deal about (not unlike my relationship with Foucault). I'll save my critique until I've read it but it does seem from interviews that Prof. Turkle has figured out a way to sing with the sirens herself and make it out alive to write about it.
I was also reminded of the incident because BLAST 5 editor Ricardo Dominguez talked about our need for flesh-to-flesh contact online at a recent ART DIRT session we had with him.
We use the term "face-to-face" to mean meeting physically and construct digital "faces" to transmit on the screen as we interact. The word "flesh" seems almost too erotic and threatening in comparison because it suggests actual, meaningful contact.
If we believe the news media the Internet is one big drug-induced, pedophilic, group-grope just waiting to tumble into the family room for our children to stumble upon. Those of us involved know that, in truth, it's becoming more like a convention of snake oil salesmen eager to shake your hand while stealing your watch.
These groups are defining what "flesh-to-flesh" means and we need to demonstrate what it can be online and off. That's why our artnetweb storefront is as important as our web site and why we make every effort to demonstrate what we are doing in the flesh and create methods of participation.
Coming up: GH will be at the University of Iowa next weekend and, on May 28, we'll all be at the Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn building a web site and MOO space on location.
Watch for details.
25 March 1996"...a growing number of artists and designers have figured out how to capitalize on the explosive creative potential of the digital realm to produce work that is both aesthetically significant and conceptually challenging. More people need to realize that."
Tamas Banovich and Ken Coupland, organizers of "Can You Digit?"
Spring 1996 may be the season when digital art becomes a marketable commodity as the galleries test methods of exhibition and sales and the journals learn how to print URLs correctly.
The current exhibition Can You Digit at Postmasters Gallery in New York comes on the heels of major articles in ArtNews and Art in America about digital art and there has been word that the Guggenheim Soho branch is being outfitted to display large techno extravaganzas. The next Documenta and Whitney Biennial will, I'm sure, crown the worthy and help set the canon for digital high art. It's only a matter of time before the auction houses establish the resale market.
That's called convergence and it's time to start thinking seriously about what kind of art environment we're creating -- or allowing to be created -- within that convergence.
Can You Digit? is a noteworthy exhibition not so much for the work shown (most of which is significant and interesting) but for the way it is promoted and installed. The press release excerpt quoted above sets the stage for how the work should be received by a fledgling digital connoisseur who is now ripe for aesthetic realization and catharsis. The work is presented as a kind of electronic interactive painting or sculpture but with the distinct advantage that much of it could be purchased for a reasonable price and taken home on disk or CD-ROM once the buyer has recovered from his or her personal bout of Stendhal Syndrome.
The overall environment isn't a great deal different from the Tower Record store a few blocks north where consumers can take a test listen of a CD before purchasing.Will it sell?
Will the work be reviewed and enter into important collections and museums?
Will graduate students of the future write term papers about it?I hope so.
I have nothing against the art world status quo. I like to see artists making money from their work and receiving recognition. And I like the idea of art being affordable and portable for anyone who is interested, just like a CD.
My problem is that this is not what I think of as digital art. The Postmasters show seems to promote the Bill Gates view of art as flat digital panels hanging on the wall or a sculptural interactive object. The press release states that many of the participants are "leading-edge West Coast artists and designers with close ties to Silicon Valley high technology." At least one of the artists in the exhibit works for Microsoft and Sony was one of the sponsors of the exhibit. I've started to understand that to mean TV, Hollywood and digitally more of the same. Record companies are starting to see real possibilities in "enhanced CDs" (MTV to go?).
I'm excited about these possibilities but not at the cost of losing what I've found in networked environments. Maybe I've been spending too much time online. What I find interesting isn't easily categorized and much of it certainly wouldn't pass muster as high art in a gallery. But I spend hours a day with it, which is more than I do with any CD-ROM. Somehow we have to find ways to make working digitally profitable instead of only the work produced.
For an excellent overview on the issues of designing for new media by Phil Agre see "The Network Observer" 2(11). (http://communication.ucsd.edu/pagre/tno.html)
"The Artistic Circle: The Creation of High Art" a paper by Lisa Jeong, Agre's student at the UC San Diego Communications Department, takes a look at how art world convergence works. (http://communication.ucsd.edu/Undergrad.Classes/111A.W96/www.co111waz/paper.html)
11 March 1996". . . you imagine a territory rich in possibilities and try to think of how you might get to it, and then suddenly one day you look around and realise that you have been there for quite a long time."
-- Brian Eno's liner notes for "On Land", 1982.
artnetweb started a couple of years ago with the simple idea that we could create an online community of and for artists that would be of value to everyone. We imagined some sort of place where art was not a dirty word and unformed aesthetic notions could cohabit with personal manifestos. Artists would not only get to know each other on level ground but also find new methods of circulating the work they do and maybe making some money from that work.
Beyond this edenic scenario I got sort of vague.
But then all this online stuff is sort of vague, which is lucky for me. For the first time in my life my inability to formulate a solid business plan may be an asset. What's needed is not so much detailed planning but the ability to shift at the right time and the only way to do that is to be part of the general chaotic flow and drift.
Planning-on-the-fly may be the new paradigm.
Situationism may have never been more relevant.
I can say this, of course, because my partner Remo is a business-head and keeps things afloat. Plus he's careful about letting me talk to potential investors.
Life and art are made of mutually beneficial collaborations.
One of the results of planning-on-the-fly is that I agree to do things I normally wouldn't plan -- like sit in a recording studio and talk about art with G.H. Hovagimyan, Adrianne Wortzel and guests every Friday from 1 to 2 pm. The show is called ART DIRT and will soon be available live via RealAudio stream from the Pseudo Online Network. Interactive chat is promised for the near future.
Also, if you have Netscape 2.0, Apple's text-to-speech software and the Talker plug-in installed check out Re-Your Message from firstname.lastname@example.org on our site. The message was in reply to a message G.H. sent jodi.org asking for information. They sent back intructions to read the message using text-to-speech.
Those are two realizations of our original idea we could never have planned.
4 March 1996...One ought to go one's own way without argument or fuss and without attempting to make the stupid see one's point of view, and when asked to do things one does not want to do one ought to give a half jocular refusal and stick to it, which is the only way of baffling them."
--Vanessa Bell on her husband Clive's attitude about life.
It also helps to have a personal income to make that "half jocular refusal" easier to stick to but, in general, that's what you learn to do in order to maintain something close to equilibrium in life. My mom, who turns 80 this month, learned that lesson early and has always been known by her baffled family as "the stubborn sister." The results of her attitude may have left me without a Bloomsbury-like inheritance but her example has kept me, and projects like artnetweb, going this far. Here's to the Widow Murphy! I'll be there for your birthday bash on St. Patricks' Day.
From the very start we've tried to create an environment where artists can go their own way using the new digital tools becoming available. There's very little opportunity for artists outside of educational institutions to access these tools and, while we may not have much in terms of high-tech hardware (or, by the way, support from their makers), we've created a network of contacts where, if you are persistent (and patient), you can gain access to whatever you need. We're the Media Lab for the rest of us.
One of the most exciting tools now being developed by Apple, IBM and others is the compound document architecture OpenDoc. Apple has recently released a beta version of CyberDog, a suite of tools for using the internet that relies on OpenDoc architecture. We want to create an environment to develop and use those and other tools for artists and we'll focus on this goal in the months to come.