[IMG MGMT] What Relational Aesthetics Can Learn From 4Chan

by Brad Troemel on September 9, 2010 · 127 comments IMG MGMT

 

[Editor's note: IMG MGMT is an annual image-based artist essay series. Today's invited artist wishes to remain anonymous.]

Is it still necessary to define art by intent and context? The gallery world would have us believe this to be the case, but the internet tells a more mutable story. Contrary to the long held belief that art needs intent and context, I suggest that if we look outside of galleries, we’ll find the actions, events and people that create contemporary art with or without the art world’s label.

Over the past 20 years, the theory Relational Aesthetics (referred to in this essay as RA) has interpreted social exchanges as an art form. Founding theoretician Nicholas Bourriaud describes this development as “a set of artistic practices that take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context”[1]. In reality, art erroneously known to typify RA’s theorization hasn’t strayed far from the model of the 1960′s Happening, an event beholden to the conventions of the gallery and the direction of its individual creator. In her essay Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, Claire Bishop describes Rikrit Tiravanija’s dinners as events circumscribed in advance, using their location as a crutch to differentiate the otherwise ordinary action of eating a meal as art[2]. A better example of the theory of RA succinctly put into action can be seen in anonymous group activities on the internet, where people form relations and meaning without hierarchy.

Started in 2003, 4Chan.org is one such site, and host to 50 image posting message boards, (though one board in particular, simply titled ‘/b/‘, is responsible for originating many of the memes we use to burn our free time.) The site’s 700,000 daily users post and comment in complete anonymity; a bathroom-stall culture generating posts that alternate between comedic brilliance, virulent hate and both combined. Typically, the content featured is a NSFW intertextual gangbang of obscure references and in-jokes where images are created, remixed, popularized and forgotten about in a matter of hours. 4Chan keeps no permanent record of itself, making an in the moment experience the allure of participation. For all of the memes that have leaked into our inbox from it, 4Chan maintains a language, ethics and set of activities that would be incomprehensible to the unfamiliar viewer. Induction to /b/’s world is not fortified and understanding it merely requires Google searching its litany of acronymated terms or participating regularly enough to find out for yourself.

“It is up to us as beholders of art to bring [unforeseen associations] to light, [”¦] to judge artworks in terms of the relations they produce in the specific contexts they inhabit” [3] concludes Bourriaud in his 2001 book, Postproduction. One of the unforeseen relationships he mentions is that of the contemporary artist and contributive internet surfer­ (the kind of Photoshop bandit you can find on /b/). Bourriaud understands each as methodological equals, calling them “semionauts”. He uses this term to define those who create pathways through culture by reorganizing history to bring forward new ideas[4]. In a digital environment equally defined by information categorizing and shopping, a case for surfing-as-art neatly falls between two historical precedents: Duchamp’s specification-as-art and 1980′s artists’ (such as Jeff Koons, Sherrie Levine, or Heim Steinbach) interest in consumption-as-art. Surfing-as-art and RA both enact Peter Bürger’s description of the avant-garde’s intention to merge everyday life with the aesthetic realm.

Marcin Ramocki’s essay Surfing Clubs: organized notes and comments describes the rapid conversations on group posting websites using jpgs, gifs, video, links, and text as a material;

The older the club the more convoluted the semiotics of communication between surfers becomes. This communication entails posting organized content by a challenger, and a decoding of it by other participants, who respond with a posting where both syntagms and paradigms of the challenge post are identified and playfully manipulated.[5]

The medium, practice and logic of surf clubs outlined in Ramocki’s essay matches 4Chan’s /b/ message board identically, though the circumstances are obviously different. While /b/ anonymously concerns itself with people and events popularized on the internet, the individuals who manage surf clubs have social and professional connections to the art world, making their primary point of reference art historical. Reference should not be the sole criteria for understanding surfing-as-art, however. Ramocki, like Bourriaud, premises his belief in surfing-as-art not on the type of allusions made in content, but on the production method of a post and its network environment. Both describe this environment as continuously active, altering or re-contextualizing information and making it public with hope for further use by peers.

Zach Anner's attempt to host his own television show on Oprah's new television network through an online contest she hosted was supported by /b/ unironically

With this condition in mind, it’s fair to call /b/ a massive surf club whose conceptual language is determined by those without connections to the art world or the need for validation from it. As artist and blogger Eryk Salvaggio puts it, “The net can’t handle the pretense of art, or anything that seems manufactured, because it has a keen bullshit mechanism.”[6] Though /b/ doesn’t need us, contemporary art does need a dose of /b/’s refined understanding of actively anonymous group creation for us to advance the “bullshit” we cherish.

This notion of ongoing use in surf clubs is also fundamental to RA’s attempt to create an art that takes place through the continuous social interactions participants have within an environment. Ramocki describes surf clubs as more than a dump site for disparate images, but as a location where highly specific visual languages are formed and conversed in. This corresponds with Bourriaud’s description of the future of Relational art;

artists intuitive relationship with art history is now going beyond what we call “the art of appropriation,” which naturally infers an ideology of ownership, and moving toward a culture of use of forms, a culture of constant activity of signs based on a collective ideal: sharing.[7]

From this quote we can draw another relationship: /b/ and other surf clubs are digital examples of Relational Aesthetics, artforms that rely on social interaction and feedback to take place. But before /b/ can totally fall under the hood of RA, there is one last hurdle in aligning it with Bourriaud’s theory. Relational Aesthetics reflected Bourriaud’s distrust for technology, a feeling so deep he even criticized automatic public toilets as instruments that distance the public from itself. Bourriaud saw the 1990′s generation’s drive to initiate an art consisting of intimate human relations as a reaction to the disembodying effects of the digital age.

Jessi Slaughter, subject of internet rage

These theories are now out of date. Understanding our only ‘real’ relations as those that occur through physical encounters becomes arbitrary when considering the behavioral and situational norms each physical encounter presents. Each of these norms acts as an intermediary between others and ourselves (though some would argue these norms do not regulate, but are our personalities). Like the digital world, physical interaction is full of socially bound ‘interfaces’, operating methods that determine the substance of relationships. As any millennial can attest, the idea that there is an in-person ‘real’ version of you that comprises your full identity and an online personage that bears no impact on your ‘real’ self, isn’t an accurate description of contemporary life. The inclusion of digital sites of interaction as a development of Relational Aesthetics is an idea not so strange considering the method’s practitioners’ past interest in the economics of mass exchange, intermediary points of being during travel and the collision of global cultures.

Justin Beiber was voted to go to North Korea for his next concert with the help of /b/

An expansion into the digital world could also help clarify RA in practice; it is a theory with an open disdain for art’s commodification, though is often exhibited within the shelter of an art institution. This discrepancy was best articulated, oddly enough, by dealer Gavin Brown, sharply saying in an interview with the BBC:

Don’t you think that if you wanted to look at the possibilities of an art that’s theoretical horizons encompass the realm of human interactions in a social context, wouldn’t you want to just go out and meet people and have a good life? I mean, to me it seems as though a lot of this work is made by people who are scared to live life in the first place— incredibly unradical people[8] who play a game of a radical life in the safe confines of some Kunsthalle or other museum in Germany or France.[9]

Despite Bourriaud’s interest in collaborative art making, his theory’s purest realization has been put on hold by institutions that must place emphasis on individual creators to maintain their financial well-being. While inside of a Liam Gillick exhibit, have you ever forgot that you were attending a Liam Gillick exhibit? I haven’t. Ending the viewer/creator dichotomy requires no less than the end of the art-star system and a participation format that makes room for the errors inherent in free will. In his essay Postchronist Manifestation, Dominick Chen states

as long as there exists an asymmetry (or distance) between producer and receiver, the modality of cultural production would inevitably lead back to a religious power structure.[10]

An art of Relational Aesthetics “far from the classical mythology of the solitary effort”[11] would be anonymously produced and give all participants the greatest degree of choice possible when determining the course of their own experience. Here we arrive again at 4Chan.

After videos of a teen beating his cat (named Dusty) surfaced on Youtube, it took /b/ a day to track down the anonymous abuser and have him arrested

In addition to the constantly evolving visual and textual language on 4Chan’s message boards, there is another /b/ activity that exemplifies group production in line with RA’s theory. These activities are called ‘raids’— projects where a person or institution is chosen and a mass of anonymous people contribute to bringing on the manipulation of its digital existence.

While a surf club may screen capture and edit material in Photoshop to post to their board, /b/’s raids are concerned with bringing on an evolving change in the source itself, not a visualized hypothetical. Surf-clubs have a Relational structure of communication among members, but they still maintain the individual creation of static art within a designated space. In contrast, raids are a breach of boundaries—a way of altering the work’s ‘real life’. William S. Burrough’s proposition that art manifest itself (“What if a painting of a bomb exploded in a gallery?”) is fitting for raids[12]. These site-specific alterations may take place through cracking passwords, using the open editing features on a website like Wikipedia, or hacking. Sometimes they even take place in person.

Agent Pubeit's epic trolling of Scientology headquarters

Raids have no leaders and the course of their action is decided by the collective will(s) of all participants. Without a chain of command, a raid is an event constantly in flux. They may end before they even start or begin with one plan of action and later morph into many splintering reactions. A raid’s anti-hierarchical fragmentation is similar to the antagonism Claire Bishop describes in Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics. Separate from the temporary microtopias attempted by some RA artists, Bishop calls the social works of art that reveal natural oppositions between participants an example of relational antagonism. She explains that this art making is a way of “exposing that which is repressed in sustaining the semblance of harmony.”[13]

Antagonism is a byproduct of free choice and speech— an inefficient but necessary way of relating if a project wishes to remain as open as possible. 4Chan users tend to value personal liberty above all, making the prime targets of their raids people or companies who engage in censorship or moral zealotry[14]. Disgust for authority is so engrained in /b/’s culture of anonymity that users who attempt to demand raids for their own personal gain have became the target of backlash attacks themselves. While some group interventions are petty, others are thought provoking and intelligently executed, like 2009′s mARBLECAKEALSOTHEGAME raid, which is /b/‘s finest work yet.

When TIME Magazine offered 4Chan’s founder, m00t, as a candidate for 2009′s 100 Most Influential People of the Year online readership poll, /b/ wasted no time launching an attack to propel him to the top spot. The resulting campaign included likely thousands of participants’ manual labor, the creation and dispersion of sophisticated ballot-stuffing software programs and several strategic changes[15] in online manipulation methods from March to April of 2009. m00t not only took first place, but all of the top 21 people listed in the poll were intentionally ordered in such a way that their first names spelled out a secret message: ‘mARBLE CAKE ALSO THE GAME[16]. ‘Marble cake’ is alternately described as the name of the chat room where the anti-Scientology raid Project Chanology was born, or as an unsanitary sex act. ‘The game’ is an inside joke that requires you to not utter or think of it to be able to win. You mostly likely just lost the game.

The mARBLE CAKE raid was an impulsive assembly of a group to simultaneously make reflexive commentary while literally revising who the public thought they voted to be the most powerful that year. The ranked influence of the names listed in the top 21 becomes subservient to the order of /b/’s encrypted message. This echoes the commonly launched criticism of TIME’s yearly “Influential” issue that many of the people included are merely entertaining figureheads or patsies who act at the behest of even more powerful, discrete interests. More specifically, the raid is a work of Relational Aesthetics. Just as the empty bottles left over from Rikrit Taravanija’s meals are later used as sculptures in their own right, the resulting alteration of TIME‘s poll becomes a digital monument to /b/’s successfully group-orchestrated intervention. /b/’s influence on Time magazine’s website is the Relational given form through their own activity.

What we witness by looking at the mARBLE CAKE raid is the result of a group of computer programmers who used their knowledge to make a mockery of a flawed media structure without retaining individual credit for themselves. With this equally creditless result, I’m reminded of the symmetrical creativity Dominick Chen calls for in his essay Postchronist Manifestation. Chen situates Relational Aesthetics as the second to most current form of art making in history. The newest, he claims, is as-of-yet unmade, though differs from RA in that it is created and interpreted collectively without hierarchy. This ‘new’ form of art does not exist inside of traditional institutions and confronts the conditions of its participants’ lives within their own environment. What Chen describes is in fact Relational Aesthetics as ideally theorized by Bourriaud, highlighting the contradiction between the reality of RA’s art-star-filled, institutionally reified present incarnation and the hope for an emancipatory future inherent in RA’s theory. Chen calls this ‘new’ form of art ‘X’ but he might as well have named it /b/.


[1] Nicolas Bourriaud. Relational Aesthetics, (Les Press Du Reel, France 1998) p. 113
[2] Clare Bishop. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, (OCTOBER 110, Fall 2004) p. 69
[3] Nicolas Bourriaud. Postproduction, (Lukas and Sternberg, New York 2002) p. 94
[4] Nicolas Bourriaud. Postproduction, (Lukas and Sternberg, New York 2002) p. 18
[5] Marcin Ramocki. Surf Clubs: organized notes and comments. (Self published, May 27, 2008) p. 5
[6] Comment by Eryk Salvaggio on Rhizome.org discussion board May 12, 2008. http://www.rhizome.org/discuss/view/37290
[7] Nicolas Bourriaud. Postproduction, (Lukas and Sternberg, New York 2002) p. 4
[8] It should be mentioned that his gallery, Gavin Brown Enterprise represents several Relational artists, calling into question whether this answer was hypocritically sincere, ironic or Sophist.
[9] BBC News. Relational Art: Is it an Ism? 2004. http://www.ubu.com/film/relational.html
[10] Dominick Chen. Postchronist Manifestation. Video Vortex Reader Responses to Youtube. Edited by Geert Lovink and Sabine Neiderer (Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2008) p. 74
[11] Nicolas Bourriaud. Postproduction, (Lukas and Sternberg, New York 2002) p. 10
[12] William S. Burroughs, The Fall of Art from The Adding Machine: Selected Essays. Arcade Publishing, 1993. P. 62
[13] Clare Bishop. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, (OCTOBER 110, Fall 2004) p. 79
[14] Julian Dibbell describes 4Chan’s ethos as “radically authorless, furiously remixed and compulsively serious” while imagining their antithesis as “a strictly disciplined, hierarchical organization founded on the exact reproduction of relentlessly earnest, fiercely copyright-protected words” in his Wired article The Assclown Offensive.
[15] Because the poll took account of both the number of votes and the average rating of influence (a number up to 100 at best), the ballot stuffing software distributed among participants needed to take use complicated algorithms to insure each of the 21 names would stay high or low enough on the list for the mARBLE CAKE message to be spelled properly. As the raid continued, TIME caught on to these attempts and upped their security measures. Throughout the month the mARBLECAKEALSOTHEGAME message became illegible many times, forcing raiders to adopt new methods to combat Captcha Codes and time restrictions. As the amount of manual labor increased, many lost interest in the project and moved on. Participants came and went all throughout the raid— free choice includes the possibility of refusal.
All images shamelessly stolen from Encyclopedia Dramatica, except for the ones stolen from Google image search.

  • http://www.artblognyc.com Alan Lupiani

    A pack of online 4channers swarmed my online talk show, “Dear Immaculately Groomed Italian Guy” back in the early days (2007), of LIVE! online streaming, creating chaos and bedlum for me and my guest…they called into the show and asked me to do weird shit like put a shoe on my head. They also stormed the online chat room, clogging everything up. I complied to their wishes out of fear of the “unknown.” I didn’t feel violated, I just felt like a small bit in 4Chan’s larger mission to create upheaval and chaos across the web-o-sphere….I see now they are making quite a name for themselves. Good for them.

  • http://www.artblognyc.com Alan Lupiani

    A pack of online 4channers swarmed my online talk show, “Dear Immaculately Groomed Italian Guy” back in the early days (2007), of LIVE! online streaming, creating chaos and bedlum for me and my guest…they called into the show and asked me to do weird shit like put a shoe on my head. They also stormed the online chat room, clogging everything up. I complied to their wishes out of fear of the “unknown.” I didn’t feel violated, I just felt like a small bit in 4Chan’s larger mission to create upheaval and chaos across the web-o-sphere….I see now they are making quite a name for themselves. Good for them.

  • http://nu4ya.posterous.com K.I.A.

    vry ntrstng

  • http://nu4ya.posterous.com K.I.A.

    vry ntrstng

  • http://nu4ya.posterous.com K.I.A.

    vry ntrstng

    • Richard

      but schtoopid

  • http://nu4ya.posterous.com K.I.A.

    vry ntrstng

    • Richard

      but schtoopid

  • Melissa C.

    GREAT article!

  • Melissa C.

    GREAT article!

  • http://www.master-list2000.com/abillmiller a bill

    I don’t get it

  • http://www.master-list2000.com/abillmiller a bill

    I don’t get it

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Okay people, lets up the level of conversation around here. I’m not approving any more 2-4 word comments.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Okay people, lets up the level of conversation around here. I’m not approving any more 2-4 word comments.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    Okay people, lets up the level of conversation around here. I’m not approving any more 2-4 word comments.

  • http://beausievers.com/ beau

    There is a kind of form-content problem here. If we are really to reinvent and reorient our entire mode of cultural/artistic production so as to eliminate “asymmetry (or distance) between producer and receiver” and strike a blow against the “art-star-filled, institutionally reified” status quo, then why do we need to look to all of these art world sources for validation? I mean Bourriaud, Bishop, Chen, the historical avant garde, Duchamp, Koons, Bürger. If we’re really working in the interests of a an evening-out of asymmetries, what’s the point? 4chan certainly doesn’t care.

    It sends mixed messages, is what I’m saying. It says it wants change, but uses the status quo as its fundamental basis. I’m afraid the effect will be something between colonialism and slum tourism, where the art world creates myths that let it justify sucking up bits and pieces of forum culture for its own purposes; authenticating, but simultaneously marking as debased other.

    • http://www.darteboard.com J.D. Hastings

      The same thing occurred to me. How much of the hype of this is motivated by the theorists seeking to make a name for themselves? There’s a meta-element to it.

      However, as a whole, it does seem pertinent to other movements throughout the artworld. Similar dialogues are carried on throughout street art communities and elsewhere.

      On the flip side, though, if Arts future is to be carried towards this communal/ semi-anonymous mode, what effect does this have on creative professionals, particularly visual artists? Any? Does it mean there will be fewer as public creativity is distributed across a wider base? Is this entirely positive? I don’t have any firm notion, but would be interested if anyone else has thought it through

      • http://beausievers.com/ beau

        J.D.; I dunno, I think all the “what if”-ing is less interesting. And author isn’t trying to boost their rep, thus the anonymity. But why play this art world citation-legitimation-futurology game? Cui bono? Not any specific individual, but the processes of legitimation themselves are reinforced.

        • http://darteboard.com J.D. Hastings

          I realized after posting this that it might be taken as question Mrs. I can argue with myself about this point. The reason a novel approach to information generation and distribution would want to appeal to the traditional processes of legitimization is to expand their own grasp. To only appeal to legitimacy via their own means is simple solipsism- preaching to the choir. To expand the reach of the form beyond its current bounds it makes sense to engage the traditional form. Once there, it can attempt to infect it with its own models. Marriage is as potent a force for change as violent revolution.

          On the other hand, with respects to the fine work of Ms. Anonymous, I do suspect strong individual proponents of decentralized movements. Its a bit like an Anarchist Political Party putting representatives on the ballot. These movements appeal to the same sort of social order as idealized anarchy, but idealized anarchy can only really work to limited degrees. Once the stakes become high enough, strong personalities tend to take dominance. This is exactly how the Napoleonic epic transpired. Fighter for liberty becomes emperor.

          Admittedly, its a little absurd to imagine anyone declaring themselves emperor of /b/, let alone a disembodied method of communal discourse, but I’ve seen other online communities disintegrate under the weight of power struggles at the managerial level, and feel like that could be a basic weakness to RA itself- once there becomes incentive for the dialogue to be hi-jacked, some human will. I don’t see anything in the description of the phenomena itself that would lead me to believe human nature itself had changed.

  • http://beausievers.com/ beau

    There is a kind of form-content problem here. If we are really to reinvent and reorient our entire mode of cultural/artistic production so as to eliminate “asymmetry (or distance) between producer and receiver” and strike a blow against the “art-star-filled, institutionally reified” status quo, then why do we need to look to all of these art world sources for validation? I mean Bourriaud, Bishop, Chen, the historical avant garde, Duchamp, Koons, Bürger. If we’re really working in the interests of a an evening-out of asymmetries, what’s the point? 4chan certainly doesn’t care.

    It sends mixed messages, is what I’m saying. It says it wants change, but uses the status quo as its fundamental basis. I’m afraid the effect will be something between colonialism and slum tourism, where the art world creates myths that let it justify sucking up bits and pieces of forum culture for its own purposes; authenticating, but simultaneously marking as debased other.

  • http://beausievers.com/ beau

    There is a kind of form-content problem here. If we are really to reinvent and reorient our entire mode of cultural/artistic production so as to eliminate “asymmetry (or distance) between producer and receiver” and strike a blow against the “art-star-filled, institutionally reified” status quo, then why do we need to look to all of these art world sources for validation? I mean Bourriaud, Bishop, Chen, the historical avant garde, Duchamp, Koons, Bürger. If we’re really working in the interests of a an evening-out of asymmetries, what’s the point? 4chan certainly doesn’t care.

    It sends mixed messages, is what I’m saying. It says it wants change, but uses the status quo as its fundamental basis. I’m afraid the effect will be something between colonialism and slum tourism, where the art world creates myths that let it justify sucking up bits and pieces of forum culture for its own purposes; authenticating, but simultaneously marking as debased other.

    • http://www.darteboard.com J.D. Hastings

      The same thing occurred to me. How much of the hype of this is motivated by the theorists seeking to make a name for themselves? There’s a meta-element to it.

      However, as a whole, it does seem pertinent to other movements throughout the artworld. Similar dialogues are carried on throughout street art communities and elsewhere.

      On the flip side, though, if Arts future is to be carried towards this communal/ semi-anonymous mode, what effect does this have on creative professionals, particularly visual artists? Any? Does it mean there will be fewer as public creativity is distributed across a wider base? Is this entirely positive? I don’t have any firm notion, but would be interested if anyone else has thought it through

      • http://beausievers.com/ beau

        J.D.; I dunno, I think all the “what if”-ing is less interesting. And author isn’t trying to boost their rep, thus the anonymity. But why play this art world citation-legitimation-futurology game? Cui bono? Not any specific individual, but the processes of legitimation themselves are reinforced.

        • http://darteboard.com J.D. Hastings

          I realized after posting this that it might be taken as question Mrs. I can argue with myself about this point. The reason a novel approach to information generation and distribution would want to appeal to the traditional processes of legitimization is to expand their own grasp. To only appeal to legitimacy via their own means is simple solipsism- preaching to the choir. To expand the reach of the form beyond its current bounds it makes sense to engage the traditional form. Once there, it can attempt to infect it with its own models. Marriage is as potent a force for change as violent revolution.

          On the other hand, with respects to the fine work of Ms. Anonymous, I do suspect strong individual proponents of decentralized movements. Its a bit like an Anarchist Political Party putting representatives on the ballot. These movements appeal to the same sort of social order as idealized anarchy, but idealized anarchy can only really work to limited degrees. Once the stakes become high enough, strong personalities tend to take dominance. This is exactly how the Napoleonic epic transpired. Fighter for liberty becomes emperor.

          Admittedly, its a little absurd to imagine anyone declaring themselves emperor of /b/, let alone a disembodied method of communal discourse, but I’ve seen other online communities disintegrate under the weight of power struggles at the managerial level, and feel like that could be a basic weakness to RA itself- once there becomes incentive for the dialogue to be hi-jacked, some human will. I don’t see anything in the description of the phenomena itself that would lead me to believe human nature itself had changed.

  • http://www.andrewbaronstudio.com Andrew

    Lots to chew on here, and I’m not going to pretend that I understand it all – furtive internet reading in an office cubicle is not always an ideal situation for parsing theory. I always get hung up (when thinking of art) about what really moves us as physical beings. Yes, I understand that we might be better off without art-stars and some of the cultural institutions that enshrine them, especially those artists who claim to have undermined the very idea of same (and who are eventually so enshrined). But when you create non-digital, physical work (which I do), there really isn’t much of an alternative but to be co-opted on some level by these same institutions. What I mean is, do I have to become a computer programmer in order to be free of some institutional hypocrisy? Programming just isn’t my thing. I realize that the article has other fish to fry and doesn’t attempt to answer this question, but we are physical beings who like to go to real places, touch real things, see physical things, etc. and this is not likely to change too soon…

    • sally

      Digital images also affect us as physical beings.

    • Andrew 2.0

      My living room is a real place, and my screen a real thing. I’m also pretty sure I’d get it trouble touching most art is DESIGNATED ART ZONES. How tedious.

  • http://www.andrewbaronstudio.com Andrew

    Lots to chew on here, and I’m not going to pretend that I understand it all – furtive internet reading in an office cubicle is not always an ideal situation for parsing theory. I always get hung up (when thinking of art) about what really moves us as physical beings. Yes, I understand that we might be better off without art-stars and some of the cultural institutions that enshrine them, especially those artists who claim to have undermined the very idea of same (and who are eventually so enshrined). But when you create non-digital, physical work (which I do), there really isn’t much of an alternative but to be co-opted on some level by these same institutions. What I mean is, do I have to become a computer programmer in order to be free of some institutional hypocrisy? Programming just isn’t my thing. I realize that the article has other fish to fry and doesn’t attempt to answer this question, but we are physical beings who like to go to real places, touch real things, see physical things, etc. and this is not likely to change too soon…

  • http://www.andrewbaronstudio.com Andrew

    Lots to chew on here, and I’m not going to pretend that I understand it all – furtive internet reading in an office cubicle is not always an ideal situation for parsing theory. I always get hung up (when thinking of art) about what really moves us as physical beings. Yes, I understand that we might be better off without art-stars and some of the cultural institutions that enshrine them, especially those artists who claim to have undermined the very idea of same (and who are eventually so enshrined). But when you create non-digital, physical work (which I do), there really isn’t much of an alternative but to be co-opted on some level by these same institutions. What I mean is, do I have to become a computer programmer in order to be free of some institutional hypocrisy? Programming just isn’t my thing. I realize that the article has other fish to fry and doesn’t attempt to answer this question, but we are physical beings who like to go to real places, touch real things, see physical things, etc. and this is not likely to change too soon…

    • sally

      Digital images also affect us as physical beings.

    • Andrew 2.0

      My living room is a real place, and my screen a real thing. I’m also pretty sure I’d get it trouble touching most art is DESIGNATED ART ZONES. How tedious.

  • ryder

    i didnt read this article but it seems like old news because its not about me. i call FAIL

  • ryder

    i didnt read this article but it seems like old news because its not about me. i call FAIL

  • http://www.andrewbaronstudio.com Andrew

    Sally – of course they do, and I hope that my post did not suggest otherwise. But there are other art forms out there, and I suspect that they are not going to become irrelevant. As a practitioner of non-digital work, I simply wonder what this article really has to say to me. Just thinking of my own selfish interests.

  • http://www.andrewbaronstudio.com Andrew

    Sally – of course they do, and I hope that my post did not suggest otherwise. But there are other art forms out there, and I suspect that they are not going to become irrelevant. As a practitioner of non-digital work, I simply wonder what this article really has to say to me. Just thinking of my own selfish interests.

  • http://www.andrewbaronstudio.com Andrew

    Sally – of course they do, and I hope that my post did not suggest otherwise. But there are other art forms out there, and I suspect that they are not going to become irrelevant. As a practitioner of non-digital work, I simply wonder what this article really has to say to me. Just thinking of my own selfish interests.

  • Andrew

    “i didnt read this article but it seems like old news because its not about me. i call FAIL”
    OK – I guess I deserved this. I did read the article though, and found it interesting.

  • Andrew

    “i didnt read this article but it seems like old news because its not about me. i call FAIL”
    OK – I guess I deserved this. I did read the article though, and found it interesting.

  • Andrew

    “i didnt read this article but it seems like old news because its not about me. i call FAIL”
    OK – I guess I deserved this. I did read the article though, and found it interesting.

  • Andrew

    “i didnt read this article but it seems like old news because its not about me. i call FAIL”
    OK – I guess I deserved this. I did read the article though, and found it interesting.

  • buttstani

    It was HARBLECAKE, not “marble cake”. They fucked up. “HARBL” is a word invented by a guy named SovietRussia for a board in the style of SA’s idiot king mod thing, /z/.

  • buttstani

    It was HARBLECAKE, not “marble cake”. They fucked up. “HARBL” is a word invented by a guy named SovietRussia for a board in the style of SA’s idiot king mod thing, /z/.

  • nahcruof

    Cool story, bro.

  • nahcruof

    Cool story, bro.

  • Ashleigh

    =D That is all.

  • Ashleigh

    =D That is all.

  • Ashleigh

    =D That is all.

  • http://robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    RA is service economy art that protests too much. It reflects the managerial ego and represents the fulfilment of managerial fantasies of order that reality isn’t perfect enough to bear. This is what the art of the ruling class usually does.

    It’s not fair to call /b/ a massive surf club. Surf clubs are massive failures to be /b/. Nominative semiopsy is fail all the way down. You can’t make a meme with a few hipsters and trustafarians looking to bootstrap their artworld careers with a post-2005 blog. Particularly when curatorial prissiness destroys the very figure-ground relationships that have traditionally been the basis of critical content in net art.

    /b/ are a critique of media structures (and a media structure…). But they are not a source of undifferentiated material for curatorial and critical careers (or surf clubs) to ventriloquise, however great an art that just shuts the fuck up would be for those.

    But, yes, let’s copy /b/. Not by adopting an easily commodified anonymity but by applying the process of their critique to or in art. Preferably to the would-be ventriloquists warming their hands at the prospect of finally, finally, finally taking their rightful place as the only identifiable personalities on the supply (sic) side of the art economy.

    • g

      Hell yeah this comment. Best thing on the page so far. After spending time in both net art circles and on 4chan, I find there’s a very appealing lack of pretension on most of 4chan — post bullshit or whining or prissiness and you do. not. succeed. Somebody knocks you right back down to the business of making funny shit. It’s an insular place, but it’s not *nearly* as insular as net art.

      • xanadu

        This conversation is amazing and I think this comment is one of the most thought provoking. But i also have to laugh out loud at Robs attitude. I feel like Rob is SO–like-not-a-former-artstudent-or-anything. Get over it! art students (present and former) are just people trying to make a career doing something they like (and most never really can) Trustifarians and ruling class- really?! I wish! ummmm…. if anything, most of us are hugly in debt. a sign of how we are ineffectual wanna be middle class suckers. It is lame and sad but way differently than how Rob portrays it. Anyhow, I mainly wanted to point out that posting on a super trendy site about art is not a consistent or successful way to differentiate one’s self from art or from “those (art) people”. A great way to kill something on the internet is to not pay any attention to it and the best way to give it power is to post about it. So there we go. Here’s a little bit of fleeting power for your ego rob- so obviously what you’re looking for. Lucky for me you threw some interesting ideas into the ploy. which is more than i can say for most posters ; )

  • http://robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    RA is service economy art that protests too much. It reflects the managerial ego and represents the fulfilment of managerial fantasies of order that reality isn’t perfect enough to bear. This is what the art of the ruling class usually does.

    It’s not fair to call /b/ a massive surf club. Surf clubs are massive failures to be /b/. Nominative semiopsy is fail all the way down. You can’t make a meme with a few hipsters and trustafarians looking to bootstrap their artworld careers with a post-2005 blog. Particularly when curatorial prissiness destroys the very figure-ground relationships that have traditionally been the basis of critical content in net art.

    /b/ are a critique of media structures (and a media structure…). But they are not a source of undifferentiated material for curatorial and critical careers (or surf clubs) to ventriloquise, however great an art that just shuts the fuck up would be for those.

    But, yes, let’s copy /b/. Not by adopting an easily commodified anonymity but by applying the process of their critique to or in art. Preferably to the would-be ventriloquists warming their hands at the prospect of finally, finally, finally taking their rightful place as the only identifiable personalities on the supply (sic) side of the art economy.

  • http://robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    RA is service economy art that protests too much. It reflects the managerial ego and represents the fulfilment of managerial fantasies of order that reality isn’t perfect enough to bear. This is what the art of the ruling class usually does.

    It’s not fair to call /b/ a massive surf club. Surf clubs are massive failures to be /b/. Nominative semiopsy is fail all the way down. You can’t make a meme with a few hipsters and trustafarians looking to bootstrap their artworld careers with a post-2005 blog. Particularly when curatorial prissiness destroys the very figure-ground relationships that have traditionally been the basis of critical content in net art.

    /b/ are a critique of media structures (and a media structure…). But they are not a source of undifferentiated material for curatorial and critical careers (or surf clubs) to ventriloquise, however great an art that just shuts the fuck up would be for those.

    But, yes, let’s copy /b/. Not by adopting an easily commodified anonymity but by applying the process of their critique to or in art. Preferably to the would-be ventriloquists warming their hands at the prospect of finally, finally, finally taking their rightful place as the only identifiable personalities on the supply (sic) side of the art economy.

  • http://robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    RA is service economy art that protests too much. It reflects the managerial ego and represents the fulfilment of managerial fantasies of order that reality isn’t perfect enough to bear. This is what the art of the ruling class usually does.

    It’s not fair to call /b/ a massive surf club. Surf clubs are massive failures to be /b/. Nominative semiopsy is fail all the way down. You can’t make a meme with a few hipsters and trustafarians looking to bootstrap their artworld careers with a post-2005 blog. Particularly when curatorial prissiness destroys the very figure-ground relationships that have traditionally been the basis of critical content in net art.

    /b/ are a critique of media structures (and a media structure…). But they are not a source of undifferentiated material for curatorial and critical careers (or surf clubs) to ventriloquise, however great an art that just shuts the fuck up would be for those.

    But, yes, let’s copy /b/. Not by adopting an easily commodified anonymity but by applying the process of their critique to or in art. Preferably to the would-be ventriloquists warming their hands at the prospect of finally, finally, finally taking their rightful place as the only identifiable personalities on the supply (sic) side of the art economy.

    • g

      Hell yeah this comment. Best thing on the page so far. After spending time in both net art circles and on 4chan, I find there’s a very appealing lack of pretension on most of 4chan — post bullshit or whining or prissiness and you do. not. succeed. Somebody knocks you right back down to the business of making funny shit. It’s an insular place, but it’s not *nearly* as insular as net art.

      • xanadu

        This conversation is amazing and I think this comment is one of the most thought provoking. But i also have to laugh out loud at Robs attitude. I feel like Rob is SO–like-not-a-former-artstudent-or-anything. Get over it! art students (present and former) are just people trying to make a career doing something they like (and most never really can) Trustifarians and ruling class- really?! I wish! ummmm…. if anything, most of us are hugly in debt. a sign of how we are ineffectual wanna be middle class suckers. It is lame and sad but way differently than how Rob portrays it. Anyhow, I mainly wanted to point out that posting on a super trendy site about art is not a consistent or successful way to differentiate one’s self from art or from “those (art) people”. A great way to kill something on the internet is to not pay any attention to it and the best way to give it power is to post about it. So there we go. Here’s a little bit of fleeting power for your ego rob- so obviously what you’re looking for. Lucky for me you threw some interesting ideas into the ploy. which is more than i can say for most posters ; )

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Would like to hear what anonymous (the author of this piece) has to say in response to Beau’s comment above. Creating myths to “justify sucking up bits and pieces of forum culture for [the art world's] own purposes” seems to be exactly what’s happening here. It’s misguided to rely so heavily on a theory (Relational Aesthetics) not based on analyzing what happens online–whose author in fact “distrusts” technology. The only reason I can think of for doing it is to fold a new set of activities (meme pools and – ugh – “raids”) into a comfortable big picture narrative of art movements. This has the effect of normalizing something that is not asking to be legitimized or explained to itself, as all these two-word comments show.
    And then there is this statement: “the individuals who manage surf clubs have social and professional connections to the art world, making their primary point of reference art historical.” The degree to which, say, Nasty Nets was “art” was either not discussed within the group or actively contested. The best “clubs” are/were multidisciplinary or a-disciplinary. As a sometime surf club “member” I say you can keep your Relational Aesthetics: whatever it is I’m doing isn’t remotely like the pretension of Rikrit Tiravanija serving noodles to Jerry Saltz inside Gavin Brown’s gallery. Other club members may in fact be very happy to be boot-strapped into the master narrative.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Would like to hear what anonymous (the author of this piece) has to say in response to Beau’s comment above. Creating myths to “justify sucking up bits and pieces of forum culture for [the art world's] own purposes” seems to be exactly what’s happening here. It’s misguided to rely so heavily on a theory (Relational Aesthetics) not based on analyzing what happens online–whose author in fact “distrusts” technology. The only reason I can think of for doing it is to fold a new set of activities (meme pools and – ugh – “raids”) into a comfortable big picture narrative of art movements. This has the effect of normalizing something that is not asking to be legitimized or explained to itself, as all these two-word comments show.
    And then there is this statement: “the individuals who manage surf clubs have social and professional connections to the art world, making their primary point of reference art historical.” The degree to which, say, Nasty Nets was “art” was either not discussed within the group or actively contested. The best “clubs” are/were multidisciplinary or a-disciplinary. As a sometime surf club “member” I say you can keep your Relational Aesthetics: whatever it is I’m doing isn’t remotely like the pretension of Rikrit Tiravanija serving noodles to Jerry Saltz inside Gavin Brown’s gallery. Other club members may in fact be very happy to be boot-strapped into the master narrative.

  • sally

    A quibble about the emphasis on anonymity…

    Boris Groys says in his book Art and Power (p.87), “Digitalization, that is, the writing of the image, helps the image become reproducible, to circulate freely, to distribute itself.” It’s a compelling concept, but it’s wrong in one significant way. Images don’t upload themselves. Behind each and every instance of Goatse online there’s an individiual who had the impulse to put it there and did the work of making it happen. Naming those people isn’t important, but remembering that the network’s nodes are comprised of intentional, motivated conscious beings is increasingly important (and surprisingly difficult). Anonymity, while great for destabilizing hierarchy and putting the images/concepts front and centre, is also great for fetishized ideas about the network itself, as if it existed independently of human intention, intellect and wit. The internet is not AI.

    What I like about this essay is that it understands the network as a mutable, temporal set of human cultural interactions. But I’m confused about the first couple of sentences which suggest that intention and content are becoming irrelevant to the appreciation of art. Whether you call it art or not (which isn’t important, in my opinion), intention and content are the stuff of relational systems like /b/. I’d also include aesthetics…in the original sense of the word aesthetics, meaning the domain of the senses and perception.

  • sally

    A quibble about the emphasis on anonymity…

    Boris Groys says in his book Art and Power (p.87), “Digitalization, that is, the writing of the image, helps the image become reproducible, to circulate freely, to distribute itself.” It’s a compelling concept, but it’s wrong in one significant way. Images don’t upload themselves. Behind each and every instance of Goatse online there’s an individiual who had the impulse to put it there and did the work of making it happen. Naming those people isn’t important, but remembering that the network’s nodes are comprised of intentional, motivated conscious beings is increasingly important (and surprisingly difficult). Anonymity, while great for destabilizing hierarchy and putting the images/concepts front and centre, is also great for fetishized ideas about the network itself, as if it existed independently of human intention, intellect and wit. The internet is not AI.

    What I like about this essay is that it understands the network as a mutable, temporal set of human cultural interactions. But I’m confused about the first couple of sentences which suggest that intention and content are becoming irrelevant to the appreciation of art. Whether you call it art or not (which isn’t important, in my opinion), intention and content are the stuff of relational systems like /b/. I’d also include aesthetics…in the original sense of the word aesthetics, meaning the domain of the senses and perception.

  • sally

    A quibble about the emphasis on anonymity…

    Boris Groys says in his book Art and Power (p.87), “Digitalization, that is, the writing of the image, helps the image become reproducible, to circulate freely, to distribute itself.” It’s a compelling concept, but it’s wrong in one significant way. Images don’t upload themselves. Behind each and every instance of Goatse online there’s an individiual who had the impulse to put it there and did the work of making it happen. Naming those people isn’t important, but remembering that the network’s nodes are comprised of intentional, motivated conscious beings is increasingly important (and surprisingly difficult). Anonymity, while great for destabilizing hierarchy and putting the images/concepts front and centre, is also great for fetishized ideas about the network itself, as if it existed independently of human intention, intellect and wit. The internet is not AI.

    What I like about this essay is that it understands the network as a mutable, temporal set of human cultural interactions. But I’m confused about the first couple of sentences which suggest that intention and content are becoming irrelevant to the appreciation of art. Whether you call it art or not (which isn’t important, in my opinion), intention and content are the stuff of relational systems like /b/. I’d also include aesthetics…in the original sense of the word aesthetics, meaning the domain of the senses and perception.

  • anonymous

    [Editor's note: This comment was not written by the author of this post]

    Very nice demonstration of understanding “it” by not addressing the IRL protesters of Chanology, but making a reference to IRL raids, like Agent Pubeit.

    What I find most interesting is that even giving a talk or publication about chans can lead to you becoming part of the experiment. I often wonder the reaction when /b/ gets a hold of this article, but I think you used too many big words for them to do anything but hurr derp and go “tl;dr”

    You also missed the bitesize nature of what all ideas boil down to. A concept or someone to raid must be concise, minimalist concept, and lulz to time invested ratio must yield high rewards.

  • anonymous

    [Editor's note: This comment was not written by the author of this post]

    Very nice demonstration of understanding “it” by not addressing the IRL protesters of Chanology, but making a reference to IRL raids, like Agent Pubeit.

    What I find most interesting is that even giving a talk or publication about chans can lead to you becoming part of the experiment. I often wonder the reaction when /b/ gets a hold of this article, but I think you used too many big words for them to do anything but hurr derp and go “tl;dr”

    You also missed the bitesize nature of what all ideas boil down to. A concept or someone to raid must be concise, minimalist concept, and lulz to time invested ratio must yield high rewards.

  • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

    I am fascinated by these new forms of relations via technology, but I cannot really believe that anonymity will rule the day. The anxiety provoked when one anonymous member of a community might get credit only proves how close to the surface those psychological issues are for human beings. I am not convinced that people will give up their need to be appreciated as unique individual contributers. I like following where the intersection of culture and technology is going and I see all this collaborative activity as a new kind creative, ethical and political activity in the world/artworld, and I’m glad it exists as a subversive agitator, and I’m sure it’s all just beyond my comprehension, but…. I still want someone to be writing a great novel out there too. I think we love the creator, we love geniuses in science and math, we are geared to be inspired by other individuals. It’s like how it feels to watch someone singing.

    • http://www.americancrackpot.blogspot.com justin

      “I am fascinated by these new forms of relations via technology, but I cannot really believe that anonymity will rule the day. The anxiety provoked when one anonymous member of a community might get credit only proves how close to the surface those psychological issues are for human beings. I am not convinced that people will give up their need to be appreciated as unique individual contributers”

      This is the aspect of the article that struck me as well. I began modelling the chan community to a hive of insects. Their ability to do something worth noting is dependent on their numbers, i.e. their subversion of Time’s ridiculous poll.

      Consider the evolution of software or cinema. Creating movies is now very much a massive group project. There are a few key players that we know, the director and leading actors/actresses, but the contributions of many many more basically anonymous people are just as necessary to pull it off. It wasn’t always this way in the early days, or, rather, the contributions of the anonymous were less important to the outcome. The same is true of software. 20 or 30 years ago, it was possible for a single programmer to come up with a hit, be it a video game, word processor or operation system. Now it takes a team of at least 6 or 7 to work on a simple application, a motion picture sized team to create a video game, and hundreds to work on an operating system. Microsoft has hundreds of programmers working on its OS, the open source community has thousands of anonymous people working on theirs.

      Looking back specifically at art history, my understanding is that once upon a time, artists were basically anonymous craftsmen that worked to further the interests of their wealthy patrons. It was not until just a few centuries ago that the artists became ‘stars’. I think the desire to have one’s name attached to something, to get credit, as you put it, is not immutable. I also can see the opposite impulse in creating art that the creator wants to last after they are gone and to be bigger than they are.

      • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

        It can be described negatively, that people crave stardom, or in a more normal light, which is that people want/need to be appreciated. I would bet that those anonymous workers at Microsoft, within their own departments, are seeking and finding ways to be accredited in some way, and all those “grips” that get listed in the movie credits, it’s all part of it. It’s a very basic desire and I would not want to picture living a life without individual accomplishments being recognized. Though I do value the sort of research and experimentation that goes on in the collaborative realms, often in stages of youthful idealism. Ultimately I think we need both…otherwise us early commune hippies would still be happily living out there.

      • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

        It can be described negatively, that people crave stardom, or in a more normal light, which is that people want/need to be appreciated. I would bet that those anonymous workers at Microsoft, within their own departments, are seeking and finding ways to be accredited in some way, and all those “grips” that get listed in the movie credits, it’s all part of it. It’s a very basic desire and I would not want to picture living a life without individual accomplishments being recognized. Though I do value the sort of research and experimentation that goes on in the collaborative realms, often in stages of youthful idealism. Ultimately I think we need both…otherwise us early commune hippies would still be happily living out there.

      • http://boards.4chan.org/r9k/ anon01

        as one who lurks and trolls the chans on a fairly regular basis and has an MFA, i can address the anonymity issue- when one is posting images and comments that are either embarrassing, illegal, grotesque, racist, or profoundly illegal, the desire to remain anonymous is strong. Taking credit for gore and CP is not a good career move, generally speaking. The level of vulgarity keeps a tight lid on claiming ownership. This obviously does not happen in the art world. There are those who post on 4chan who have “identities”, and these people are known as “tripfags” or “namefags” (yes everything ends in “fag”). These people are derided. The last thing most anons want is for anyone IRL to know what they do online. Most of the anons involved in the raid on the Epilepsy Foundation boards would openly boast about being responsible for the first real instance where a virtual attack caused real-world physical harm to people completely innocent and undeserving of attack. As fascinating as that is if you really think about it, it’s a seriously dick move. As long as anon is compelled to push the limits of legality, morality, and ethics, the anonymous moniker will remain. This is radically different from how contemporary art, from artists like Terrence Koh, Dash Snow, Vaginal Daivs, et al, functions. It’s built explicitly on persona. They’re largely shielded from any real danger by the structures of the art world (e.g. money). Anon does not have that privilege. Anon’s illegality and depravity are genuine, not shielded by any “fair use” or “artistic value” argument. The genuine fringe aspect of the majority of the content on /b/ not adequately addressed in this essay and forms the most significant bond holding that specific community together. The liberation (for good and bad) felt by /b/ users is fundamentally unlike anything experienced IRL, and certainly in the art world.

  • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

    I am fascinated by these new forms of relations via technology, but I cannot really believe that anonymity will rule the day. The anxiety provoked when one anonymous member of a community might get credit only proves how close to the surface those psychological issues are for human beings. I am not convinced that people will give up their need to be appreciated as unique individual contributers. I like following where the intersection of culture and technology is going and I see all this collaborative activity as a new kind creative, ethical and political activity in the world/artworld, and I’m glad it exists as a subversive agitator, and I’m sure it’s all just beyond my comprehension, but…. I still want someone to be writing a great novel out there too. I think we love the creator, we love geniuses in science and math, we are geared to be inspired by other individuals. It’s like how it feels to watch someone singing.

    • http://www.americancrackpot.blogspot.com justin

      “I am fascinated by these new forms of relations via technology, but I cannot really believe that anonymity will rule the day. The anxiety provoked when one anonymous member of a community might get credit only proves how close to the surface those psychological issues are for human beings. I am not convinced that people will give up their need to be appreciated as unique individual contributers”

      This is the aspect of the article that struck me as well. I began modelling the chan community to a hive of insects. Their ability to do something worth noting is dependent on their numbers, i.e. their subversion of Time’s ridiculous poll.

      Consider the evolution of software or cinema. Creating movies is now very much a massive group project. There are a few key players that we know, the director and leading actors/actresses, but the contributions of many many more basically anonymous people are just as necessary to pull it off. It wasn’t always this way in the early days, or, rather, the contributions of the anonymous were less important to the outcome. The same is true of software. 20 or 30 years ago, it was possible for a single programmer to come up with a hit, be it a video game, word processor or operation system. Now it takes a team of at least 6 or 7 to work on a simple application, a motion picture sized team to create a video game, and hundreds to work on an operating system. Microsoft has hundreds of programmers working on its OS, the open source community has thousands of anonymous people working on theirs.

      Looking back specifically at art history, my understanding is that once upon a time, artists were basically anonymous craftsmen that worked to further the interests of their wealthy patrons. It was not until just a few centuries ago that the artists became ‘stars’. I think the desire to have one’s name attached to something, to get credit, as you put it, is not immutable. I also can see the opposite impulse in creating art that the creator wants to last after they are gone and to be bigger than they are.

      • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

        It can be described negatively, that people crave stardom, or in a more normal light, which is that people want/need to be appreciated. I would bet that those anonymous workers at Microsoft, within their own departments, are seeking and finding ways to be accredited in some way, and all those “grips” that get listed in the movie credits, it’s all part of it. It’s a very basic desire and I would not want to picture living a life without individual accomplishments being recognized. Though I do value the sort of research and experimentation that goes on in the collaborative realms, often in stages of youthful idealism. Ultimately I think we need both…otherwise us early commune hippies would still be happily living out there.

      • http://boards.4chan.org/r9k/ anon01

        as one who lurks and trolls the chans on a fairly regular basis and has an MFA, i can address the anonymity issue- when one is posting images and comments that are either embarrassing, illegal, grotesque, racist, or profoundly illegal, the desire to remain anonymous is strong. Taking credit for gore and CP is not a good career move, generally speaking. The level of vulgarity keeps a tight lid on claiming ownership. This obviously does not happen in the art world. There are those who post on 4chan who have “identities”, and these people are known as “tripfags” or “namefags” (yes everything ends in “fag”). These people are derided. The last thing most anons want is for anyone IRL to know what they do online. Most of the anons involved in the raid on the Epilepsy Foundation boards would openly boast about being responsible for the first real instance where a virtual attack caused real-world physical harm to people completely innocent and undeserving of attack. As fascinating as that is if you really think about it, it’s a seriously dick move. As long as anon is compelled to push the limits of legality, morality, and ethics, the anonymous moniker will remain. This is radically different from how contemporary art, from artists like Terrence Koh, Dash Snow, Vaginal Daivs, et al, functions. It’s built explicitly on persona. They’re largely shielded from any real danger by the structures of the art world (e.g. money). Anon does not have that privilege. Anon’s illegality and depravity are genuine, not shielded by any “fair use” or “artistic value” argument. The genuine fringe aspect of the majority of the content on /b/ not adequately addressed in this essay and forms the most significant bond holding that specific community together. The liberation (for good and bad) felt by /b/ users is fundamentally unlike anything experienced IRL, and certainly in the art world.

  • http://lab404.com Curt Cloninger

    When Vito Acconci left the gallery for architecture, it was because the gallery had begun to seem like a kind of petri dish, a hermetic object lesson (broader than the studio, but not yet quite as broad as “the world.”) “Political” artists reiterate a kind of mantra that although their single work of art doesn’t actually change anything pragmatically in the world (beyond the gallery and a few art magazines, which are of course in the world), it serves as a model for change, or it provokes a conversation about change.

    In net art, a concern with “the political” has gone hand in hand with deep level code protocols. So you have someone like Ricardo Dominguez floodnetting the server of his employers in the Callifornia state school system, and then getting in trouble for it. This move is a petri dish object lesson, especially if the press never picks it up, because his software intervention didn’t pragmatically hurt the server. So there is irony here — the deep level political code hack only changes the actual human world with the help of a subsequent, second-order surface level media spectacle. The Yes men get this.

    /b/ also gets this. They bypass the deep code-level protocols (for the most part), and hack at the surface level of meme-tastic, mediated human language. They aren’t a hermetic art movement, creating their own scene-specific micro-memes, spinning their own art critical context, and hoping to get some scraps of press in ArtForum. They are directly manipulating major news press outlets. This press manipulation is not a second-order byproduct of their “art,” it is their art (although they wouldn’t call it art). It is the medium in which they work.

    I agree with Rob Myers above — what artists can learn from this is not how to co-opt it and package it to a gallery, but how to turn it out and onto structures and systems in the world that might matter.

    cf: http://lab404.com/articles/commodify_your_consumption.pdf (particularly pp. 19-22)
    cf: http://lab404.com/xanadu_hijack/

  • http://lab404.com Curt Cloninger

    When Vito Acconci left the gallery for architecture, it was because the gallery had begun to seem like a kind of petri dish, a hermetic object lesson (broader than the studio, but not yet quite as broad as “the world.”) “Political” artists reiterate a kind of mantra that although their single work of art doesn’t actually change anything pragmatically in the world (beyond the gallery and a few art magazines, which are of course in the world), it serves as a model for change, or it provokes a conversation about change.

    In net art, a concern with “the political” has gone hand in hand with deep level code protocols. So you have someone like Ricardo Dominguez floodnetting the server of his employers in the Callifornia state school system, and then getting in trouble for it. This move is a petri dish object lesson, especially if the press never picks it up, because his software intervention didn’t pragmatically hurt the server. So there is irony here — the deep level political code hack only changes the actual human world with the help of a subsequent, second-order surface level media spectacle. The Yes men get this.

    /b/ also gets this. They bypass the deep code-level protocols (for the most part), and hack at the surface level of meme-tastic, mediated human language. They aren’t a hermetic art movement, creating their own scene-specific micro-memes, spinning their own art critical context, and hoping to get some scraps of press in ArtForum. They are directly manipulating major news press outlets. This press manipulation is not a second-order byproduct of their “art,” it is their art (although they wouldn’t call it art). It is the medium in which they work.

    I agree with Rob Myers above — what artists can learn from this is not how to co-opt it and package it to a gallery, but how to turn it out and onto structures and systems in the world that might matter.

    cf: http://lab404.com/articles/commodify_your_consumption.pdf (particularly pp. 19-22)
    cf: http://lab404.com/xanadu_hijack/

  • http://lab404.com Curt Cloninger

    When Vito Acconci left the gallery for architecture, it was because the gallery had begun to seem like a kind of petri dish, a hermetic object lesson (broader than the studio, but not yet quite as broad as “the world.”) “Political” artists reiterate a kind of mantra that although their single work of art doesn’t actually change anything pragmatically in the world (beyond the gallery and a few art magazines, which are of course in the world), it serves as a model for change, or it provokes a conversation about change.

    In net art, a concern with “the political” has gone hand in hand with deep level code protocols. So you have someone like Ricardo Dominguez floodnetting the server of his employers in the Callifornia state school system, and then getting in trouble for it. This move is a petri dish object lesson, especially if the press never picks it up, because his software intervention didn’t pragmatically hurt the server. So there is irony here — the deep level political code hack only changes the actual human world with the help of a subsequent, second-order surface level media spectacle. The Yes men get this.

    /b/ also gets this. They bypass the deep code-level protocols (for the most part), and hack at the surface level of meme-tastic, mediated human language. They aren’t a hermetic art movement, creating their own scene-specific micro-memes, spinning their own art critical context, and hoping to get some scraps of press in ArtForum. They are directly manipulating major news press outlets. This press manipulation is not a second-order byproduct of their “art,” it is their art (although they wouldn’t call it art). It is the medium in which they work.

    I agree with Rob Myers above — what artists can learn from this is not how to co-opt it and package it to a gallery, but how to turn it out and onto structures and systems in the world that might matter.

    cf: http://lab404.com/articles/commodify_your_consumption.pdf (particularly pp. 19-22)
    cf: http://lab404.com/xanadu_hijack/

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Judith, if it’s all just beyond your comprehension, why are you commenting? You comment on Paddy’s blog to say you haven’t read something yet. These words about the need for individuals to be recognized read like platitudes from a self-help book. You are just adding gentle noise to the conversation, like humpback whale songs.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Judith, if it’s all just beyond your comprehension, why are you commenting? You comment on Paddy’s blog to say you haven’t read something yet. These words about the need for individuals to be recognized read like platitudes from a self-help book. You are just adding gentle noise to the conversation, like humpback whale songs.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      Tom, I did not say I hadn’t read the article, which I did.

      I think anon01′s response, about how illegality and depravity are really more what the anon’s are about, is a more substantive response to my so-called platitudes than your choice to condescend to me. Also don’t you consider being curious about things beyond your comprehension as a good thing?

      • http://tommoody.us tom moody

        Sorry, when I said “you comment on Paddy’s blog to say you haven’t read something yet” I was referring back to your comment “Want to see the show before I comment!” about the Brion Gysin show. Now you’re commenting to say you’re not qualified to comment. I’m not condescending–I’m criticizing your netiquette. It’s a pain to click through to new comments to find out they say nothing. I can’t speak for why Anon01 chose to answer you.

      • http://tommoody.us tom moody

        Sorry, when I said “you comment on Paddy’s blog to say you haven’t read something yet” I was referring back to your comment “Want to see the show before I comment!” about the Brion Gysin show. Now you’re commenting to say you’re not qualified to comment. I’m not condescending–I’m criticizing your netiquette. It’s a pain to click through to new comments to find out they say nothing. I can’t speak for why Anon01 chose to answer you.

        • http://boards.4chan.org/cm/ anon01

          Mr. Moody, you can’t speak to why i addressed the issue of anonymity in a discussion that addressed the issue of anonymity that was inspired by an essay about a group that utilizes anonymity? (“…but I cannot really believe that anonymity will rule the day. The anxiety provoked when one anonymous member of a community might get credit…” “artists were basically anonymous craftsmen that worked to further the interests of their wealthy patrons.”)

          but hey, I’m not condescending–I’m criticizing your netiquette.

          1/10

          • http://tommoody.us tom moody

            Anon01, I said I couldn’t speak to why you addressed your comment to Judith Braun in particular–she said you were talking to her. But hey…

          • http://tommoody.us tom moody

            Anon01, I said I couldn’t speak to why you addressed your comment to Judith Braun in particular–she said you were talking to her. But hey…

        • http://boards.4chan.org/cm/ anon01

          Mr. Moody, you can’t speak to why i addressed the issue of anonymity in a discussion that addressed the issue of anonymity that was inspired by an essay about a group that utilizes anonymity? (“…but I cannot really believe that anonymity will rule the day. The anxiety provoked when one anonymous member of a community might get credit…” “artists were basically anonymous craftsmen that worked to further the interests of their wealthy patrons.”)

          but hey, I’m not condescending–I’m criticizing your netiquette.

          1/10

      • http://tommoody.us tom moody

        Sorry, when I said “you comment on Paddy’s blog to say you haven’t read something yet” I was referring back to your comment “Want to see the show before I comment!” about the Brion Gysin show. Now you’re commenting to say you’re not qualified to comment. I’m not condescending–I’m criticizing your netiquette. It’s a pain to click through to new comments to find out they say nothing. I can’t speak for why Anon01 chose to answer you.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Judith, if it’s all just beyond your comprehension, why are you commenting? You comment on Paddy’s blog to say you haven’t read something yet. These words about the need for individuals to be recognized read like platitudes from a self-help book. You are just adding gentle noise to the conversation, like humpback whale songs.

    • http://www.judithannbraun.com Judith Braun

      Tom, I did not say I hadn’t read the article, which I did.

      I think anon01′s response, about how illegality and depravity are really more what the anon’s are about, is a more substantive response to my so-called platitudes than your choice to condescend to me. Also don’t you consider being curious about things beyond your comprehension as a good thing?

      • http://tommoody.us tom moody

        Sorry, when I said “you comment on Paddy’s blog to say you haven’t read something yet” I was referring back to your comment “Want to see the show before I comment!” about the Brion Gysin show. Now you’re commenting to say you’re not qualified to comment. I’m not condescending–I’m criticizing your netiquette. It’s a pain to click through to new comments to find out they say nothing. I can’t speak for why Anon01 chose to answer you.

        • http://boards.4chan.org/cm/ anon01

          Mr. Moody, you can’t speak to why i addressed the issue of anonymity in a discussion that addressed the issue of anonymity that was inspired by an essay about a group that utilizes anonymity? (“…but I cannot really believe that anonymity will rule the day. The anxiety provoked when one anonymous member of a community might get credit…” “artists were basically anonymous craftsmen that worked to further the interests of their wealthy patrons.”)

          but hey, I’m not condescending–I’m criticizing your netiquette.

          1/10

          • http://tommoody.us tom moody

            Anon01, I said I couldn’t speak to why you addressed your comment to Judith Braun in particular–she said you were talking to her. But hey…

  • hey

    hey brad

  • hey

    hey brad

  • http://hey hey

    hey brad

  • http://www.computersclub.org Max Goldberg

    articles like this make life and living less fun

  • http://www.computersclub.org Max Goldberg

    articles like this make life and living less fun

    • beautiful12yrold

      you are so right.
      the synopsis of this article can be whittled down to ‘i am a boring person’

      thank you, author, for spending so much time explaining the obvious.

  • http://www.computersclub.org Max Goldberg

    articles like this make life and living less fun

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  • Anon

    NEVER forget the 4th of September, When 100s of /b/ users all came together to wish an old vet a happy birthday, not for fame or fortune, but because they can.

  • Anon

    NEVER forget the 4th of September, When 100s of /b/ users all came together to wish an old vet a happy birthday, not for fame or fortune, but because they can.

  • anon

    “Induction to /b/’s world is not fortified and understanding it merely requires Google searching its litany of acronymated terms or participating regularly enough to find out for yourself.”

    And that’s the reason why most of the time 4chan doesn’t work, with people “doing it for the lulz” while letting pass by the constructive criticism that can actually exist and that does subconsciously motivate these collective phenomenons.

    This is pretty clear in the act of trolling: you shouldn’t do it for the sake of being retarded, but to actually change for the better the mentality of the target and of anyone watching. Chaos sets the land for proper rejuvenation, however people have an affinity to just see the chaos.

  • anon

    “Induction to /b/’s world is not fortified and understanding it merely requires Google searching its litany of acronymated terms or participating regularly enough to find out for yourself.”

    And that’s the reason why most of the time 4chan doesn’t work, with people “doing it for the lulz” while letting pass by the constructive criticism that can actually exist and that does subconsciously motivate these collective phenomenons.

    This is pretty clear in the act of trolling: you shouldn’t do it for the sake of being retarded, but to actually change for the better the mentality of the target and of anyone watching. Chaos sets the land for proper rejuvenation, however people have an affinity to just see the chaos.

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  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    This statement of Rob Myers’ annoys: “You can’t make a meme with a few hipsters and trustafarians looking to bootstrap their artworld careers with a post-2005 blog.” You can feel the resentment coming off that sentence in waves, plus it’s wrong on many levels. (1) The idea that mainstream galleries ever “got” art on blogs is laughable; (2) Surf clubs have coughed up their share of memes (dogs howling to the Law and Order theme, anyone? “surf club,” anyone?): (3) Really great that Rob conducted financial audits of bloggers to determine their means of support. One area where surf clubs fell down was not having more resources available for harassing members’ ex-girlfriends.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    This statement of Rob Myers’ annoys: “You can’t make a meme with a few hipsters and trustafarians looking to bootstrap their artworld careers with a post-2005 blog.” You can feel the resentment coming off that sentence in waves, plus it’s wrong on many levels. (1) The idea that mainstream galleries ever “got” art on blogs is laughable; (2) Surf clubs have coughed up their share of memes (dogs howling to the Law and Order theme, anyone? “surf club,” anyone?): (3) Really great that Rob conducted financial audits of bloggers to determine their means of support. One area where surf clubs fell down was not having more resources available for harassing members’ ex-girlfriends.

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  • mwilliamson

    ITT: people sad that 4chan does it better, faster, cheaper, and without even trying.

  • mwilliamson

    ITT: people sad that 4chan does it better, faster, cheaper, and without even trying.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Well, mwilliamson, I wouldn’t go that far. Some might say dump.fm is being studied by your heroes for exactly those qualities.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Well, mwilliamson, I wouldn’t go that far. Some might say dump.fm is being studied by your heroes for exactly those qualities.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Well, mwilliamson, I wouldn’t go that far. Some might say dump.fm is being studied by your heroes for exactly those qualities.

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  • Junk

    nice, been waiting for something like this for a while!

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