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?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Words to the Wise: Nella Larsen

"[S]urely it is more interesting to belong to one's own time, to share its peculiar vision, catch that flying glimpse of the panorama which no subsequent generation can recover." -- Nella Larsen

Sounds like a woman after my own heart.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

School's Out (but not Study Hall)

“At this critical moment, we believe that the concept of race only as a ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’ is already an obsolete software, an unstable system on which to pin humanity’s advancement. We believe that the place of art is to posit new social arrangements in which we have so fully realized our potential that we can inhabit blackness as the malleable, fluid, and ecstatic hybrid technology it is.” – from the Carbonist School Manifesto

Today marks the official opening of The Carbonist School: Study Hall, an exhibition at Atlanta’s Eyedrum gallery. The curators are Charles H. Nelson and Cinque Hicks (one of co-founders of The Carbonist School). Keith and I are in the show, as are Greg Tate , Kojo Griffin, Torkwase Dyson, Kevin Sipp, Cauleen Smith, Beatrice L. Thomas, Jabari Hall Smith, and Ogechi Chieke, and Leslie Hewitt & William Cordova. Many, many friends in the mix -- one of whom is a former student -- as well as people whose work we’ve admired from afar. audiologo blogs it here.

The opening party is July 15, 7-11pm, during the National Black Arts Festival.

The Carbonist School: Study Hall

Eyedrum Art/Music
Suite 8, 290 MLK Jr. Drive SE
Atlanta, GA 30312, USA
June 24, 2006 - August 5, 2006


That same weekend we’ll present on a panel at the High Museum of Art for the annual conference of the National Alliance of African and African American Art Support Groups. The two-day conference will include a keynote talk by the nearly omniscient Richard Long, as well as a number of panel conversations by artists, curators, and collectors of African-American art. Organized and moderated by Torkwase Dyson, our panel, algorithmeticblackbase10, sets out to “1) exhibit ways new media art implies different contexts for experiencing technology; 2) create a discourse around how digital technology affects the conceptual and compositional process of art making; 3) produce a platform for black digital media artists to address cultural topics.” Panel participants also include Brian Horton, Stan Woodard, and Cinque Hicks.

Navigating the Mainstream VIII
Creative Collaborations: Artists, Curators, and Collectors

High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree Street, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia
recorded information: 404-733-HIGH
Receptionist: 404-733-4400

July 13-14, 2006