The Best of the Web, 2008

by Art Fag City on January 12, 2009 · 17 comments Events

In addition to our Best of the Web Contributor’s Choice, we’re running our usual year end segment, (albeit a bit late). In no particular order, here’s some of the best material we found online this year.

gaahl.jpg
GAAHL, lead singer of Gorgoroth, screengrab from Vice TV

10. True Norwegian Death Metal on vice tv.  Lead singer of Death Metal band Gorgoroth, Gaahl, is the only artist I’ve ever heard compare painting to torture based on his own experience.   Both are instinctual seems to be the jest of his argument, though I remain unconvinced the two share enough similarities to warrant an analogy.   Regardless, this was one of many points in the online documentary, which made it by far the most interesting I’ve seen on the web this year.  Given my general dislike of the magazine I never thought I’d be saying this, but here it goes: Good job Vice!   AFC write up here.  All five episodes here.


Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Out of the Internet and Into the Night.

9. I’m quite certain Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries Out of the Internet and Into the Night was made well before 2008, but certainly a few pieces on their site were made this year. Setting flashing black text to music and in this case a simple video game inspired graphic, the story of a young man and woman either fleeing town or the Internet is both humorous and gripping. A must watch.


Image via: Loshadka

8. Blogs in which artists and non-artists alike scour the web for interesting visual material — surf clubs to be exact — have arguably already seen their hay day (Good afternoon Twitter) but a lot of great material was showcased this year regardless. In particular I enjoyed Loshadka’s dog breeds with sunglasses, Paul Slocum’s transformer fire on Spirit Surfers on Spirit Surfers (currently on display at artMovingProjects), and an animated batman gif on Double Happiness. Also likely to be of great importance is visual artist and film maker, Marcin Ramocki’s paper Surf Clubs: Organized Notes and Comments presented this year at NASCAD.

YouTube Preview Image

7. Speaking to the sense of completion felt when shapes align, Hole in The Wall asks contestants to contort their body into empty space carved out of a moving wall.   It’s hard for any art to top this show…or this bridal website… or Michael Israel’s chest.  All of these links come from the mysterious tipster SS.

Joel Holmberg, Woman eating grapes image search

6. Club Internet An online art exhibition venue continually introducing me to great new artists.  In particular I enjoyed Guthrie Lonergan‘s curated show, Tag Team, which includes  Joel Holmberg’s Google image search for women eating grapes [pictured above], Michael Guidetti’s found live webcam at the Perdue University computing center, and Four Four’s animated Tyra Banks Gifs.

The Girls Next Door, Season 2
An Animated Girls Next Door gif.  Warning: File size = giagantoid

5. Rarely have I seen an animated gif made with greater care. The soft light, the slowed camera speed, the grainy quality of image. I can’t imagine Hugh Heffner’s newest girls could possibly compete with the first generation, if this is what they’ve inspired. A larger post on the gif here.


Private Circulation

4. Back in April we responded to Private Circulation‘s marketing request, a PDF publication distributed only by email.  They wanted help promoting their latest issue, a collection of images imagining a future only in Cyan.  I’m not sure said future really caught on, but it might be a little bleak for most people’s taste anyway.

addart-demo.gif
Add Art Demo Gif

3. Thankfully Steve Lambert’s Add Art shows look a lot better than some red square with the words “Art” on it.   Every two weeks Lambert invites a curator to select art his firefox extension will use to replace website ads.  I’m probably  biased about this project — I curated a show — but I really like seeing weird shit replace the ads on the front page of the New York Times every two weeks.   Add Art insures I see something I couldn’t have possibly imagined appearing on that website (and others) on a regular basis.

2. Tom Moody – New Media Artists Versus Artists With Computers Tom Moody doesn’t align himself with New Media artists, a group he describes as being [overly] concerned with mechanical skills (ie making stuff work).  Instead, he stakes  out a claim for a group he calls Artists With Computers, those who use the computers only as a tool.   The terms are a little more stark than I would have put them myself but who cares.  The distinction is an important one, and Moody’s laid a lot of the ground work for further discussion.

smithson-meets-star-wars.jpg

Screengrab from John Power’s essay: Star Wars: A New Heap (or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Death Star) at Triple Canopy

1. Who says the nerdocracy no longer rules the web?  As demonstrated by the popularity of John Powers’ essay Star Wars: A New Heap (or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Death Star) at Triple Canopy, strong thinking on marginally geeky subject still finds a large audience on the web.  “The Death Star has never been recognized as an essential work of minimalism,” he writes, nor it’s destruction a turning point for modernism.  Thousands of words later you not only believe him, but you’ve learned far more than you ever thought possible on the subject of Star Wars and its relation to fine art.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Hi, Paddy,
    Thanks for including my post here.
    My definition of new media included technical skills but also a certain utopian mindset about computers, and statements such as Lev Manovich’s “new media objects exist as data.”

    That techno-utopianism was recently expressed in an anti-surf club diatribe from one of the resentful old guard in the Rhizome.org comment boards (http://rhizome.org/editorial/2234):

    “In a recent interview, Cory Arcangel mused why contemporary net art is so interested in comedy (and why youTube has turned into America’s Funniest Home Videos). One answer might be that it’s easier to be coy, cynical, and cryptically allusive than to bite off the Herculean (and easily ridiculable) task of massively modulating/modifying culture. Cory’s own work is more admirably Warholean than the work of most of his delicious.com re-blogging followers. But I have to wonder — can an army of purposefully a-political, barely discernible, self-referential, online detritus re-hashers somehow magically equal a tactically ingenious, below-the-radar, cultural revolution?”

    The poster’s condescending snottiness aside (and bad, pompous writing–“admirably Warholean”—please), that belief in “massively modulating/modifying culture” and “below-the-radar cultural revolution” is a goal of new media artists as I see it. The artists I know and admire would never be so presumptuous as to see themselves as the shock troops of some Leninist/Maoist revolt. (We know how those turned out.) They also recognize that the internet is just too big to imagine working in all but a little corner of it. That’s not being a-political, etc, just realistic.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Hi, Paddy,
    Thanks for including my post here.
    My definition of new media included technical skills but also a certain utopian mindset about computers, and statements such as Lev Manovich’s “new media objects exist as data.”

    That techno-utopianism was recently expressed in an anti-surf club diatribe from one of the resentful old guard in the Rhizome.org comment boards (http://rhizome.org/editorial/2234):

    “In a recent interview, Cory Arcangel mused why contemporary net art is so interested in comedy (and why youTube has turned into America’s Funniest Home Videos). One answer might be that it’s easier to be coy, cynical, and cryptically allusive than to bite off the Herculean (and easily ridiculable) task of massively modulating/modifying culture. Cory’s own work is more admirably Warholean than the work of most of his delicious.com re-blogging followers. But I have to wonder — can an army of purposefully a-political, barely discernible, self-referential, online detritus re-hashers somehow magically equal a tactically ingenious, below-the-radar, cultural revolution?”

    The poster’s condescending snottiness aside (and bad, pompous writing–“admirably Warholean”—please), that belief in “massively modulating/modifying culture” and “below-the-radar cultural revolution” is a goal of new media artists as I see it. The artists I know and admire would never be so presumptuous as to see themselves as the shock troops of some Leninist/Maoist revolt. (We know how those turned out.) They also recognize that the internet is just too big to imagine working in all but a little corner of it. That’s not being a-political, etc, just realistic.

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  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    BTW in my original post I didn’t “align” myself with either group. It’s obvious from the tone which set of criteria I prefer but I admire many new media artists, just not the ones who insist on programming skilz or aspire to massively modify/modulate culture. As I said in the post, the so-called surf club artists come from both schools.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    BTW in my original post I didn’t “align” myself with either group. It’s obvious from the tone which set of criteria I prefer but I admire many new media artists, just not the ones who insist on programming skilz or aspire to massively modify/modulate culture. As I said in the post, the so-called surf club artists come from both schools.

  • Art Fag City

    @Tom With all due respect, you are micromanaging my words. “Prefer” versus “align” is an editorial choice and while there is some difference, I don’t think it’s significant enough to lose sleep over.

  • Art Fag City

    @Tom With all due respect, you are micromanaging my words. “Prefer” versus “align” is an editorial choice and while there is some difference, I don’t think it’s significant enough to lose sleep over.

  • http://lab404.com Curt Cloninger

    Hi Tom (you sexy beast),

    Our shock troops informed me of your activity in this sector. You are always so feisty! I think you may possess repressed revolutionary tendencies.

    In all fairness, I haven’t really delineated my proposed tactics for massive modulation. They aren’t revolutionary, overtly political, or even technically “resistant.” But they are at least purposeful. I’m working on the paper below that will explain things more clearly.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Paper proposal submitted to:
    http://medialab-prado.es/article/3er_encuentro_inclusiva-net_netart_segunda_epoca

    Title:
    Commodify Your Consumption:
    Tactical Surfing / Wakes of Resistance

    Abstract:
    Internet “surf clubs” (artist-run, invitation-only group photoblogs) have been critically described by their practitioners using a variety of loosely defined, partially elucidating analogies: film montage (Olson), Duchampian found objects (Moody), Cornellian wunderkammern (Bewersdorf), and semiotic play (Ramocki). This paper analyzes group photoblogging, public bookmarking (via sites like delicious.com), “artistic surfing,” and related practices from the more fruitful/apt perspective of de Certeau’s “tactical consumer.”

    I first establish a model for understanding these recent practices of tactical consumption by proposing a continuum of artistic “production” ranging from “strong/deep/strategic” to “weak/shallow/tactical.” Toward the “weak/shallow/tactical” end of this continuum are precedences like DJ Spooky’s remix ethics, Fred Wilson’s and Haim Steinbach’s object ensembles, Ted Nelson’s Xanadu project, Vannevar Bush’s Memex trails, Debord’s derives, Bourriaud’s notion of “post-production,” and Galloway/Thacker’s notion of “edges.”

    I argue that “artistic surfing” is a tactical practice of “strong consumption” that produces a trace (or “wake”) which acts as a form of “weak production.” The goal of such surfing (whether explicit or implicit) is to broadcast a singular and personal signal of resistance amidst a “wave” of commercial content and noise.

    I then critique the efficacy of this model of resistance as it applies to the contemporary internet. If the ocean in which I choose to “surf” is comprised of corporate culture, then my “wake” through it may be less an assertion of my own singular resistance and more a local case-study in how the “creative demographic” surfs the corporate network — a marketing statistic rather than an inflection of critical agency.

    Finally, I suggest other net art options further down the scale of production that still utilize tactical consumption; but produce a stronger, less impotent, more resistant signal. These options involve deeper levels of media modulation, more strategic plans for “spinning” the “wake” (strategies for online trace dispersal), and a greater emphasis on personal transformation as a viable practice of tactical resistance.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If you want to dialogue via posts here, please send me an email so I will know to return (otherwise I’ll foget). If you just want to slag me but you don’t require a response, carry on.

    Love,
    Curt

  • http://lab404.com Curt Cloninger

    Hi Tom (you sexy beast),

    Our shock troops informed me of your activity in this sector. You are always so feisty! I think you may possess repressed revolutionary tendencies.

    In all fairness, I haven’t really delineated my proposed tactics for massive modulation. They aren’t revolutionary, overtly political, or even technically “resistant.” But they are at least purposeful. I’m working on the paper below that will explain things more clearly.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Paper proposal submitted to:
    http://medialab-prado.es/article/3er_encuentro_inclusiva-net_netart_segunda_epoca

    Title:
    Commodify Your Consumption:
    Tactical Surfing / Wakes of Resistance

    Abstract:
    Internet “surf clubs” (artist-run, invitation-only group photoblogs) have been critically described by their practitioners using a variety of loosely defined, partially elucidating analogies: film montage (Olson), Duchampian found objects (Moody), Cornellian wunderkammern (Bewersdorf), and semiotic play (Ramocki). This paper analyzes group photoblogging, public bookmarking (via sites like delicious.com), “artistic surfing,” and related practices from the more fruitful/apt perspective of de Certeau’s “tactical consumer.”

    I first establish a model for understanding these recent practices of tactical consumption by proposing a continuum of artistic “production” ranging from “strong/deep/strategic” to “weak/shallow/tactical.” Toward the “weak/shallow/tactical” end of this continuum are precedences like DJ Spooky’s remix ethics, Fred Wilson’s and Haim Steinbach’s object ensembles, Ted Nelson’s Xanadu project, Vannevar Bush’s Memex trails, Debord’s derives, Bourriaud’s notion of “post-production,” and Galloway/Thacker’s notion of “edges.”

    I argue that “artistic surfing” is a tactical practice of “strong consumption” that produces a trace (or “wake”) which acts as a form of “weak production.” The goal of such surfing (whether explicit or implicit) is to broadcast a singular and personal signal of resistance amidst a “wave” of commercial content and noise.

    I then critique the efficacy of this model of resistance as it applies to the contemporary internet. If the ocean in which I choose to “surf” is comprised of corporate culture, then my “wake” through it may be less an assertion of my own singular resistance and more a local case-study in how the “creative demographic” surfs the corporate network — a marketing statistic rather than an inflection of critical agency.

    Finally, I suggest other net art options further down the scale of production that still utilize tactical consumption; but produce a stronger, less impotent, more resistant signal. These options involve deeper levels of media modulation, more strategic plans for “spinning” the “wake” (strategies for online trace dispersal), and a greater emphasis on personal transformation as a viable practice of tactical resistance.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If you want to dialogue via posts here, please send me an email so I will know to return (otherwise I’ll foget). If you just want to slag me but you don’t require a response, carry on.

    Love,
    Curt

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Paddy, micromanaging would be insisting you use my word accompanied with intimidating body language. I’m just clarifying, especially since the post was called “stark” and “starkly polarizing.”

    My difference with Curt Cloninger is over the purposefulness or practicality of art. As an artist I do align myself more with the art-for-art’s-sake crowd, which is not the same as “formalism,” Greenbergianism, or other epithets, but suggests its own ethos of chaos and troublemaking.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Paddy, micromanaging would be insisting you use my word accompanied with intimidating body language. I’m just clarifying, especially since the post was called “stark” and “starkly polarizing.”

    My difference with Curt Cloninger is over the purposefulness or practicality of art. As an artist I do align myself more with the art-for-art’s-sake crowd, which is not the same as “formalism,” Greenbergianism, or other epithets, but suggests its own ethos of chaos and troublemaking.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    “Stark polarization” was Ceci Moss’s phrase at Rhizome.org.

  • Art Fag City

    @Tom. Clarifying is acceptable.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    “Stark polarization” was Ceci Moss’s phrase at Rhizome.org.

  • Art Fag City

    @Tom. Clarifying is acceptable.

  • http://pleaseobey.com Cat Rocketship

    Thanks for introducing me to the name for surf clubs. I participate in some, but didn’t know there was a name.

  • http://pleaseobey.com Cat Rocketship

    Thanks for introducing me to the name for surf clubs. I participate in some, but didn’t know there was a name.

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