Thursday, June 29, 2006

Are We There Yet? Net Aesthetics

Back in February Keith and I went to the Rhizome sponsored forum on the’s new directions, Net Aesthetics 2.0. Artists Cory Arcangel, Michael Bell-Smith, Marisa Olson, and Wolfgang Staehle and critics Caitlin Jones and Michael Connor had a conversation with Lauren Cornell about the field to a packed audience at Electronic Arts Intermix. I would say there was standing room only, but actually, there wasn’t even standing room by the end of the night. The audience seemed to be very engaged, many of us were net.artists and though I missed a few Rhizome oldheads I’d expected to see in the room (not to mention my own students), my sense was that the Electronic Arts Intermix audience was well represented.

I wrote a bunch of notes in my datebook, many of which are undecipherable at this point. While trying to read them the other day, I found it strange that I didn't remember having thought some of the thoughts I’d clearly documented as my own. I eventually realized that MO did not stand for Mendi Obadike, as it usually does in my notes, but for Marisa Olson. My thoughts were documented as MLO (for Mendi Lewis Obadike.) And that, kids, is why you can’t trust everything you read – even ii you wrote it.

Aside from the name confusion, much of the jotted down thoughts are barely legible now. They mostly point towards conversations I had wanted to come back to. The notes are useful for me, but in the way that dreams are useful for me: if I concentrate seriously enough, I can make something of them.

Here’s a cleaner version of what it looks like, with first names in place of initials:

? to Wolfgang: what is your relation to the Internet?
Answer: interested in ontological questions.

Cory: How do I compete with people doing better things?

? about nostalgia [I think this was about Marisa’s relation to 80s kitch]
Marisa: it’s new to me [because she wasn’t around the first time]

Lauren: there’s no anti in it.

critic [probably -- in my handwriting it looks more like “erratic” -- but she wasn't that] Caitlin: no anti-capitalistic thought about nostalgia for art historical purposes [which, in my writing, also looks like prospects or passports – interestingly, all of these ideas work for me]

Cory: impossible to keep up [he was back to talking about competing or not competing with people making better (did he mean prettier or more technically savvy?)]

Lauren: audience for Internet art – plays with fear / anxiety with technology

* * *

Cory: in the gallery people need to be stimulated [? or maybe stunned or entertained], not so with other Internet spaces

Someone [from the audience, if I remember correctly] then noted that what we were seeing in this particular gallery space (blown up images projected on a way) was “theater of the Internet, not the actual Internet”

Wolfgang: [on using the web to transport film to gallery spaces and not being interested in the Internet for the purposes of reaching (or was it reading) the masses] if I put my art on the web, it would just be another web cam.

So, if you can follow the connections, there’s something there, but at some point in the conversation, I realized that the questions and answers were coming and going way too quickly for me to catch them and decided instead to jot down questions I had for myself that were based on what was being said or what was not being said. Maybe they will be useful for you, too.

Questions during the Net Aesthetics 2.0 Panel

Is for people at work?
Is a form of degraded pop culture?
Is a place for theories about nothing?
Is a place for white people to make ironic art about black music?
Is a place for fast transmission?
Is a place for glorification of completed transmissions?


Blogger Marisa Olson said...

Hi, M(L)O! I wish we'd met... Next time! ~MO :)

2:06 AM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger Mendi O. said...

hi MO! lol! we did!

4:27 AM, July 11, 2006  
Anonymous lauren cornell said...

your as good a note-taker as i am ;)

11:30 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger Mendi O. said...

uh oh! (lol)

1:50 PM, August 05, 2006  

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