The first in a series of publications exploring poetry in and beyond the internet, in collaboration with http://seanroyparker.com/.
Including: Sam Riviere, Rachael Allen, Steve Roggenbuck, Harriet Moore, Jack Underwood, Jon Stone, Erik Stinson, Megan Levad, Harry Burke, Emily Berry, Sophie Collins, Philip Larkin.
Available here: http://bit.ly/y4Cy2o.
(temporary link if dl faulty - http://www.scribd.com/doc/81070179/Embedded-Poetry-01-Glitch)
I’m really intrigued and enthused by this notion of your ‘online teen following’ you mentioned in a previous conversation. Can you tell me more about this/them? Are they beginning to have an influence on your output?
My “teen following” definitely began when Tavi http://www.thestylerookie.com/ started posting some of my collages and drawings a little over a year ago. It was like the most cool & popular teenage girl on the Internet wanted to be my friend-and then so did everyone else. And then Molly Soda, who has something like 9,000 followers would often list my tumblr as “one to follow”. So I guess the support of those women along with the accessibility of my work & features on other websites helped to build the teen following. I’m very interested in the phenomenon of tumblr fame and I have not really had time to investigate- it’s almost always worked in my favor so I’ve been quite complacent towards accepting it I guess. There is no doubt that they have influenced my output, most specifically the mediums in which I’m currently producing- like the stickers. I started selling some drawings and paintings but the whole ordeal made me so uncomfortable (pricing my work etc.) and I know that a lot of people who are interested in my work are still in high school and aren’t about to start collecting art. But I want them to feel closer to it, and to view it not through the screen so that’s why I started making & selling the stickers and zines. One time someone online reblogged one of my drawings and said that “this looks like it was made for tumblr” and I couldn’t decide how I felt about that, but they were probably right.Teens online can be rather cruel as well, I’ve gotten way more upset over things that have been said about me online by 16-year-olds in Australia than anything that has ever been said to me in a crit by a professor or my art school peers.
I started my tumblr about three years ago, of course never with the intention of having any real audience beyond my few other friends who used the blogging platform. I was attracted to it because it was a lot more clean & contemporary looking than a site like blogger and there seemed to be a community more along the lines of livejournal (which I posted on everyday from the ages of 14-17).
Your work therefore has this really intriguing relationship with adolescence, in that you’re investigating your own recent history through this network of younger viewers (media users), situating your personal experience within a network of common experience; the result is this shared and sort of contested identity zone. Yet there still seems something subversive in implicating these younger audiences. Does this become a concern? Is the internet still sexy?
I’m definitely interested in trends, and how they function- specifically online. Making work that is largely viewed & consumed by teenagers definitely wasn’t my goal from the beginning, it just sort of happened and I think it has been somewhat successful in that regard due to my post-adolescence. I need/ed that distance in order to have a greater understanding of the young female/teen experience. I’m not sure how I view mass-media in relationship to the arenas I encounter online, there are definitely some parallels (maybe from some more popular bloggers) but expression/trends online seem to be more genuine at the root- probably due to the lack of $$ involved? And also I would hope that any sort of targeting I am doing has positive results, like encouraging some sort of creative action, I hope I’m not seeming too idealistic…
I think it does work on this level of the accessibility of art. I’m also wondering if idealism becomes pragmatic in this context. And this is reflected stylistically - I think there is an openness to your cotton-candy-primitivism. Yet again I see a darker side here though, explicit in the marijuana leaves or perhaps more subtly in the associations within the Sylvia Plath image.
I guess I implement slightly darker elements because I see them as being a necessary part of (at least my) adolescent experience. I started getting really into literature and creative writing when I was about 15/16 and my mother and teachers at school kept pointing me towards Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf; I think it’s interesting that the female literary “heroes” they teach you about all killed themselves. I had a probably very unhealthy interest in both of them at such an impressionable age because it creates this dramatic & heavily depressed archetype for a female creative that is really easy to get caught up in. As for the use of marijuana leaves, I see them as a symbol for “Whatever”, which is common theme in my work.
I want to sort of amalgamate that as a metatheme for this interview. I imagine any readers imagining us typing this on those really old grey computers with giant keys.
Zines, too, were an important part of underground culture in the 90s - is your use of them a continuation of an inherent DIY ethos? I’m thinking Riot Grrrl, subculture, and third-wave feminism, to throw in some wikipedia tags. Further, are your zines a reaction to ubiquitous blogging platforms?
I do think it’s an evolution of that. Because of my personal experience, especially attending Smith (with alums like Betty Friedan & Gloria Steinem), that culture has always been of interest and importance to me. Also I’ve spent a good amount of time working for the artist K8 Hardy, who is the ultimate mentor and artistic role model, she is engaging important feminist discourse through the mediums of fashion, zines, video and beyond in really powerful and amazing ways. A series of zines I made last year, New Age Visions, were closer to an attempt at an artist’s book or a catalogue for an imaginary exhibition- they were printed in full color and quite nicely, and presented work that was made by young internet based artists, and I wanted to explore the role of a curator. It was a project I had to invent on the spot- in order to convince the art department that I needed my own private studio space- but I think it ended up going well. I’m interested in experimenting with work that exists mostly online and seeing where its limits lie. I’ve made zines of my pre-existing work that haven’t functioned nearly as well as my coloring books or collections of poetry. So for me its maybe more about exploring the possibilities of what different forms my work is able to inhabit. There’s an element of personality and presence that comes with a zine that just isn’t translated through a computer screen. It makes the artist/viewer connection a lot more real to me when I’m writing someone’s name on an envelope and decorating it with stickers and including notes & temporary tattoos.
So you’d say there’s an equivalent to these scenes today / online?
Definitely! The internet has changed everything. I think that young women are still being active within their communities, but now that community might exist online (too). Blogs allow this young generation of feminists to claim a lot of space and converse and connect with each other despite physical location. The ability to disseminate information anywhere is really powerful. There are websites like rookie, jezebel & autostraddle that offer a variety of opinions on the female experience, often in relationship to pop culture and I think that’s really exciting how available that kind of information is today- for everyone. Vice Style posted an article last week about my “online feminist scene” that was obviously kind of uninformed & rude (but maybe a little funny), but I think the part that they missed is that what’s really important for this young generation, especially females, is to know that there aren’t rules if you want to identify as a feminist, you can dress femme, listen to pop music, shave your body hair (or not), wear make-up, do whatever you want, feminism is about celebrating your agency. What I see online right now is a resurgence and appreciation for the female teen (by teens and those of us a little older- and sometimes male) who is outspoken, brash and creative as opposed to wide-eyed, confused and helpless.
I like the idea of people being sometimes male. And I think gender comes into this. The internet has been a catalyst to increasingly diverse and fluid conceptions of gender, would you say you’ve encountered this? And if so, does your use of wigs and characterisation in your work reflect this? This has been very famous recently- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9573kGBtuE. To me Nicki Minaj can be understood almost like a host personality, or character. Specifically here for these girls, although this logic carries beyond the meme, I’m sure.
For me, the manipulation of gender & exploration of characters starts before the internet and is in the style of and in reference to artists like Cindy Sherman, Alex Bag, K8 Hardy & Martha Wilson, it’s for sure a common exploration in feminist art. And gender presentation is definitely an interest of mine and I’ve explored it in a real-life context as well. But, I think what the internet has done is create a space where a lot more people feel comfortable with that manipulation and display. And for me its another platform to discover peers or other artists who are doing this. Perhaps someone isn’t going to put on a purple wig and go to the store, it’s a lot more comfortable to play dress up for your web cam and share the results with your followers. I think that identity is fluid and ever-evolving and I’m interested in how that can be expressed through physical appearance.
And (physical) location as well. To what extent do you perceive your website as an environment? Is it a continuation of your bedroom / studio?
My website, and online presence is most definitely a continuation of my bedroom, studio, wardrobe etc. I have always had an interest in making my aesthetic and cultural interests public- going back to plastering my school notebooks with images of pop-punk bands and teen heartthrobs. Instead of thinking about all of the things I like or wonder about, I would much prefer to see them actualized and palpable. I’m not sure if that desire stems from narcissistic or exhibitionist tendencies, but it’s so exciting for me to think about. A nice example of the translation from bedroom space to gallery space was a show I did at Smith with my two close friends/collaborators Velvet Teenvelveteen and Cody Hochman-Masback called “Apocalypse Party” in which we essentially made what we called a Teen Museum in which the gallery space was filled with pizza boxes, paintings of Beavis and Butt-head and pages from teen magazines as wallpaper, it was so beautiful.
I think your Art Baby Gallery project has this sense of a sort of transitional space as well. However, (and perhaps I’m slightly trolling), to what extent do you believe in the power of the internet to keep regenerating/creating unlimited space for new artists/projects?
Yeah I totally know what you mean, sure it could be argued that I’m just creating a multitude of digital waste but like with my use of the zine medium, I’m hoping to learn something from taking work outside of its usual platform like tumblr or facebook and providing it with a different timeline. Sure, someone might spend the same .02 seconds looking at the work on Art Baby as they would if I posted it on my tumblr, but I’m hoping the singularly dedicated environment of this website will allow for a slightly different viewing. I want there to be a more interesting relationship between work online and IRL gallery spaces- and this does happen, with the BYOB shows or Barmecidal Projects. Art Baby Gallery is the closest I can get to having a real gallery space right now, and I like thinking of it as a possible early stage model for a future project. It’s easy to get really frustrated by the amount of women who are celebrated in the art world or the amount of money needed to comfortably exist in the world, so I think Art Baby is my small & hopefully funny way of trying to combat that- with the resources that are currently available to me.
Would you call yourself a curator then, or is this just part of your extended practice?
The term “curator” seems to be used quite freely these days and I like that it has somewhat broken free from the professional museum/gallery world. That being said, I enjoy taking charge in the gallery setting when it comes to shows I am involved with (either with my own work-or at my place of employment) and it’s exciting to become invested in the work of other artists. But yeah I think my organizational compulsions combined with my general interest in my friends & peers work make it easy for me to dabble in curating- whether its online, in print or IRL.
Hi Grace, I’m Marta.
I think what’s really interesting about your work is the tension between the private and the public - for example, your drawings seem very personal to me but you also appropriate popular culture and thus their subjectivity becomes incredibly uniting on a fundamental girl power level; it’s like when blogs started replacing diaries (a historical moment, really) and collective anonymity became a source of reassurance, you finally realised that other people had similar ‘problems’ and didn’t feel as lonely anymore. Do you believe in the Internet as a space of real emotions rather than just emoticons? Or do you ever feel scared to upload something, even if it’s in the context of art?
It’s much easier to be emotional (and often to express yourself) on the Internet although online emotions and expressions poses an inevitable distance from “real life” emotions. My work has changed a lot over the past year, and before I started making work similar to what I do now, I wasn’t very present in it. I think that personality, which can come from my handwriting, or my physical presence in a video or photograph helps the work to matter to me, and then makes it more interesting to others. I want to be generous and I think that can happen when I literally “put myself out there”. I think that I’m always pretty conscious and would probably delete a video if I found myself to be too embarrassed or vulnerable in it, before I even considered posting it, but I am really working to edit myself less, and see what can come from those moments that are more honest and less planned out. But I do think that the screen creates a boundary of comfort and that I feel like I can look a certain way, or say certain things that I wouldn’t yet have to courage to do IRL in front of a live audience of viewers. And yes! I recently saw The Future, Miranda has been an interest and influence of mine for years, and I loved the idea of her trying to change her life by uploading dance videos onto the web in that film- even if she didn’t succeed.
There is a scene in Bridesmaids where the main character Annie is incensed for her housemate for reading her journal. Her housemate responds, ‘I didnt realise it was your journal, I thought it was just a sad hand-written book’. I was thinking of this when looking at some of your drawings. You’ve used the tropes of something handwritten and private but published it on the net. Do you think by using felt tips rather than say gifs or windows paint, you are making what is private to you (and many girls forming identity) more explicit by placing it in this unboundried sphere? You seem not to be bringing the public into the private realm by the fact we can view from the comfort and anonymity of our home, but bringing your private and letting it explode onto the unchartered territories of the screen.
Hmm well I guess thinking about Marta’s question above (the blog replacing the diary) the notion of privacy is sort of consumed already by the web. While my drawings are definitely personal, they are intentionally made with the hopes of being relateable and with an audience in mind. I feel like any artist who makes work, and posts much or all of it online can’t claim to make work that doesn’t consider their audience, because I feel like such a large part of blogging and online art is about the community and the response it receives, even if it’s the small gesture of likes & reblogs. And I think my use of markers and handwriting is done in reaction towards my mainly digital body of work, which felt sort of cold and generic in comparison but were most easily considered “Art”.
If the eye is the window to the soul, is the webcam too? How are we meant to percieve your videos as a viewer?
Well I really only consider a few of my videos to be made in the webcam tradition, I guess that most others are meant to perceived as “video art”, due to either their found & collaged imagery or HD quality. But even so, in the videos where I am present, there is a consideration of the camera as a portal between screens as well as an element of parody towards commonly made & posted webcam videos.
Review: Jaakko Pallasvuo New Sincerity curated by B.C. @ Beach London, 8-18th December 2011
I wonder how the artist would have reviewed this show.
Jaakko Pallasvuo’s New Sincerity project presents a beautiful problem. For a start it’s manifestly neither; indeed the term itself has been discoursed for up to thirty years now. What’s more, the open source optimism of the notion has afforded it cult status in tumblr-led aesthetics. Sincerity seems a way of humanising emotionally detached image flow, the mantra seemingly: if nothing comes from without, we can reblog from the heart. Yet the very need to codify this exchange points to awareness of its location within a symbolic field, and the inherent structure of cultural capital within. To engage with this, to use New Sincerity as an artistic metabrand, complicates it entirely. Walter Benjamin has been woven through the project as a whole, what Pallasvuo is exploring is not the act of the artist revealing herself to a public but the aura thus associated with the artist-as-origin in this act. More simply, the aura of New Sincerity.
However Pallasvuo firmly understands this. The artist’s frustration at this show is her lack of control over this aura, the deconstruction of the personal brand; the leaked publication of this brand’s boardroom strategy. The abandoned pc monitors are the site where this antagonism is most evident. Stepping down into the exhibition, they form a void in the far corner, disconnected and empty as an old msn account, perfectly paired yet in solidarity with only themselves. Forced to contemplate the object, to fetishise the abject, we question our investment in yet another net inflected exhibition displaying photoshop squiggles alongside obsolete technology. Across the room, there is a noose.
Pallasvuo offers much more than this though. Working on no budget, and furiously last minute, neither artist nor organisers were able to procure the two identical screens specifically required for the installation. Or at least, they were, but the aforementioned pc monitors found were incompatible with the cables. Thus the monitors stand stubborn and silent, whilst the artist’s statement wails on the wall. Yet converse to the artist’s concern, these objects make for a more rather than less aggressive show. Passive yet far from impassive, the conflict here is one of the difficultly in translating integrated and complex conceptual projects into faithful sculptural entity. Yet it is also the realisation that an exhibition is much more than the physical document of a unified project, but rather a point of reference within a project’s development, a spatio-temporal location of its continuing genesis. Again I’m certain the artist understands this, this is New Sincerity part 2 and thus we can place it in time. What’s more, the ice cream melting at the fulcrum of the exhibition provides one of the most succinct visual metaphors for internet heterogeneity I think we might find. Thus aided by these carefully placed clues, the very banality of the two pc monitors compels the viewer to seek narrative beyond the object, aligning them more satisfyingly with the artist’s own process of understanding, a mechanism I see as at the heart of networked imaginative thinking.
That this is achieved through failure, and specifically technological failure, is interesting. On one level, it is something of a slip in the symbolic order by which we are given a clearer insight into the artistic process, or at least made able to believe more wholly in it. The artist may not have realised an ultimate vision, yet this lack of control liberates the viewer to insert more of her own autonomy, to dematerialise the artist myth. The viewer meets the artist half way, a collaboration which is for the most part successful because of the dystopia it frames; the artist as purveyor of unified truth. It is not technology that debunks aura a priori, but our shared and conscientious use of it. More simply, however, and perhaps more legitimately, it is in this failure that New Sincerity becomes truly sincere. This is not to critique the artist’s body of work as a whole, which offers of course the crucial context, but is more a celebration of uncertainty, an uncertainty through which the strength of the project has been revealed. The brand breaks; there is emotion, humanness within. And we can always watch the videos online.
Artist’s impression of show, literally. source: dawsonscreek.info
8th - 18th December 2011
Essay published in Pool, October 2011.
HAZING - in conversation with http://karialtmann.com/
Documentation from Core Samples: Blackmoth.info Body Piercings, 2011
We talked previously about an emphasis on Tumblr in dialogue surrounding your work — would you say there’s a frustration in repeating yourself in conversations such as these? I’m wondering if there is a sense here of art reflecting the logic of the meme, and what sort of power structures this might in turn reveal.
This first answer will probably be the longest…
Repetitive questions are normal, especially with work that employs mystery, but maybe this ties more into your prompt below about scattered identity. Artists definitely feel pressure to be a branded thing, summed up by someone in charge going through a list of names and saying, “This artist makes this and that artist makes that,” and making sure it’s all diverse but similar enough to be presented as a teamed organism that communicates some pre-determined message.
Looking at things like VVork in the past few years makes it clear just how much is being created in all the scenes about a lot of the same general memes and topics in the canon. It seems like an obvious answer to specialize in a way that stands out from that: by relying on that generality and striking some specific and disparate frequency, which can be a hierarchical game in its own right, or by joining then diversifying from the packs of like-minded peers you group with through time, which can also be a dizzying process. It becomes like a game of adding some unique vital ability to the organism in order to stay attached. Especially when your peer network becomes connected abstractly through the net, you can find yourself falling to the whims of the pack or the platforms out of efficiency. But of course art as a learning process needs to be exempt from the pressures of product and community at times, so you need to hold on to the freedom of being general, private, repetitive, or discordant. I’m captivated by that notion of unification and diversification within a group that forms based on attractors, detractors, and environment. Online, your morphology can actually go both ways and beyond.
One trope the internet should help alleviate is this notion of the artist having a single “thing” that they do. When you’re in control of all the elements that brand you, frame you, and disseminate you, why not diversify that portfolio?
If you’re the one platforming yourself, it makes it much easier for people to see a fuller body of content in one clickable horizon. You’re not forced to put it all into one packaged showroom artwork, one moment, or one style that can be cherry-picked. Focus is still important, and distilling things down to specificity is a good way to get a message across, but branding yourself is something to be wary of more than ever. Those forces are so strong, now! I still go back and forth between generalist and specialist, which the internet allows, because your sites are the most meta frames. You can oscillate between anonymity and entity, and you can travel from context to context in a split second. The cross-hairs are continuously on the move, which is more congruent with how mobile lives have become. Being in control of your own aggregational destiny, so to speak, allows you to retain the final context, which can mean holding on to direction rights and humanity when the hype market wants you to be submissive and bot-like. It’s a constant play fight, but with that choice of authority you can actually afford to play a lot more. When artists become too eager to be objectified they are ripe for external plucking and branding, and the platforms are going to go where the “cost” is lowest, sometimes.
The expectation of brand is also a somewhat inescapable force now, so for me the trick is to be this metabeast brand director and legitimately do whatever I want from day to day, then figure out a way to organize it all into its own teams later. The serial approach seems pretty natural for a process that provides in-real-time control. Creating, naming, and ordering cloud directory structures is also a creative act.
After getting hired to do so much brand interpretation and art direction, where your entire job is to locate some “essence” and then make sure it’s present in all of an entity’s visual and verbal output, it just makes sense to treat art with the same production schedule, especially with the research tools that are now available. That’s not to say all my work is organized that way, but it’s one strategy that still seems efficient. Even more efficient is to use a brand whose real estate already exists, but is hazy enough to allow for a much needed personal reuse that has nothing to do with the original.
TTOSHIBAA: 10,000 IMPRESSIONS, 2010
I still think of my “artist website” as the big piece or the real product in a way, though it’s 2011 and still no show has ever presented it as one. Curators and bloggers still tend to want to shop it for works a la carte, instead of presenting the full scenes or the networked teams. After some time you’re almost forced to start succumbing to the notions of the standalone product in order to get the message across in those contexts, and to lure people back to your site. Then it becomes a question of what people are experiencing in something like a gallery: is it all just a demo, a prop, or a sample for the real thing elsewhere? It’s an old topic but still surprisingly unaddressed when install time rolls around.
This is a result of the way art venues (and many art portfolio websites) still tend to work as product showrooms of cultural craft and artist names become memes that get reblogged around from different tastemaking sites. You can really watch all these exchanges from platform to platform and predict trickle down trends. It becomes easier online to see who is exploring and going deep, and who is just gleaning things from surfaces elsewhere. (The quirks of networked knowledge or culture communities are a whole other topic.) In the age of the reblog it becomes harder to identify primary sources. Especially when a lot of cultural producers are trying to recycle or rebrand while working in packs, you have to be sharp about who is authoring or producing an idea and who isn’t. What are the other actions and what kind of value should be placed on them?
I am trying to be in control of my place in that, is all. There have been a few times when hype waves have tried to turn into undertow and define what my “thing” is for me. A lot of it has just become like tagging, and at times these contact emails seem like they’re running on algorithms. I mean who are you, Harry Burke? The way internet search services and similar content formulas are developing is really key. A lot of my projects are about reacting in kind.
Excerpt from R-U-In?S Similar Image Haul: Magic Eye XD for K48, 2010
I’m game, but I’m trying to do more in-person, direct presentations where I can create more controlled environments, so that the exported aggregation of the internet is not too dominant. I really haven’t done a lot of shows or events where I’m actually in control, working with a venue I know very well, or resource-enabled. It’s all been extremely outsourced and translated, which I’ve tried to work into my approach. I want more “you had to be there” in 2012.
This has all been talked about before and concepts like memes are obviously just how social things work already. Perhaps the difference now is the internet revealing it on such a large and instant scale that these patterns become a lot more apparent? Or that it’s now easier to control (and test) with one small gesture that becomes extremely amplified through an instant and specialized network echo? Any ident can find a platform, audience, and all the resources it needs to open for business in a few minutes. It can also be bootlegged or ripped off in an hour.
Repetitive questions are a result of people’s entry point being one thing or another based on what’s been framed for them, as in what portal has been presented and vetted in some way by an outside source. Going to my site doesn’t always provide those concrete answers for a surface user. There is a big focus on Tumblr and the projects on it right now, because those are the easiest things to follow. You can go right into them, they’re super reblog friendly, and people are more likely to see what you’re doing on a platform they’re on socially like that than deep troll yourname.com directly.
Maybe this is where I ask for this interview to be more like some promo questionnaire. Ask me my favorite color, or about where I grew up! Just don’t ask me more of the same questions about Tumblr and how the internet works?
Or maybe I just say “it’s all part of the performance.” Then we post some pic you took of me hanging at the mall during our interview with lots of lens flares.
Pic of me at the interview with lens flare
B-] Probably frustrating to be asked that as a first question, or in fact at all. But I like your response.
(In response to external Skype conversation about webcam pic) You asked me questions about performed gender after seeing this pic, which you admitted was the first you’d ever seen. Did you think I was a dude before? It’s not the first time. Dirk from JODI is among the people who have been fooled, even. I call this phenomenon “Karl Artman”.
Lol. Well not really, but I wasn’t sure at one point, but only in the way like when you know you locked your front door but still for some reason you think you haven’t and then don’t know whether to check or not…levels of ambiguity. But that’s pretty funny, if not maybe relieving on my part as well.
I’m reading Sexual Personae right now, I’d highly recommend it. Really entertaining.
To what extent do you perceive your online archiving as performative? Would this be altered if, say, the images were collated on a hard drive (following the model of a painter in her studio) rather than blogs? I’m wondering whether it’s upon publication that such research becomes an artistic act or if it’s something more integral, more process-based.
Not so sure what you’re asking, here. Everything is also on hard drives, and people putting art online is not new? Are you talking about directory structure as art? That’s how more and more people are using their sites: as cloud mirrors of their hard drives with a few additional filters. In this way production and research are more conjoined, things are more live, and you can contribute to shared groups if you have something that doesn’t fit anywhere in yours. Or maybe this is in response to me explaining that my site is not always a showroom, which is the same idea….
I’m wondering how internet artist’s practice would be affected if they didn’t publish it online, at least not immediately. Of course they would no longer be ‘internet artists’ per se, but with so many people rejecting this term, it seems interesting to try and work out where the boundaries lie.
I mean I don’t post everything online, and certainly not immediately. I guess a lot of it is at least listed, thumbnailed, or demo’ed in some way to add itself to the overall impression. Net-friendly stuff ends up online naturally but I don’t consider a lot of my work to be internet art per se. Since my site is the piece I’m really working on every day, I guess it all gets framed as that, though. I make everything with my websites in mind, even if it can’t properly be experienced there. It depends. Right now I’m actually more into 3d/4d modeling, plants, bike helmets, and constructing things from Ebay and CVS materials, but that’s a “thing,” too, computer artists trying to prove that they do other, non-computer things! There is still such a public stigma about technology, it’s surprising. I thought the internet hysteria was sort of dying in 2005. I guess I was wrong?
Aren’t artists usually hesitant about “genrefication” ? The terminology of internet art, post internet art, art 2.0 v. 3.0, etc. is still a bit arguable. I like post internet because it’s like an annoyed reaction, but of course everything has overlap. It’s helpful to differentiate between approaches, but it eventually seems limiting because of all the bizarre things that get ascribed to the meme of it by others. A lot of talk about virtual art gets wrapped up in coverage of the platforms and mediums, aiming to place it all in a tech product lineage or the history of social media instead of what the art actually is and what the artist is about. It’s like seeing the work for its parts! This goes back to that generality and authorship issue. This is also what leads to the same questions over and over, the same articles being written over and over, as well as the same art pieces about technology being made over and over. Even shows are guilty of this at times: promoting the novelty of the system instead of facilitating the art that is giving life to the system. Everything gets flattened into this homogeneous idea of “content” or “participation” in support of some other framework and it can all get very gimmick-y. That type of feudal, territorial activity is wonderfully ideal for some things, but not always great for going deeper. Users are not all the same, content and art are not all the same and shouldn’t be referred to in a lump sum. Right?
Are artists actually annoyed by those tags? Or are they just trying to make sure the terminology stays diverse so they don’t get type cast into a shelf life? The tag is usually already attached if they are reacting to it and genres don’t always get to choose their own name (IDM, WITCH HOUSE, SEAPUNK). I’ll go along with them if they apply, sure, whatever helps, but I prefer “metamedia” and “wi-fi #based” for now. They will continue to change as new topics emerge.
Perhaps there is some sort of relationship here between the rhizomatic structures so commonly celebrated in online territories and their inevitable commercialisation, or commercial colonisation. In this sense the hackneyed genres that get picked up by the big rebloggers would be the commercialised nodes, reshaped and contested by their new traffic flow. (Genrefication as abstract gentrification??? http://www.google.co.uk/search?gcx=w&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=genrefication) And artists’ exploitation of these offers a model with which to consider their dynamics up to, even beyond, this point.
I’m glad to see genrefy becoming a more official word ;) It’s an important question right now, not least because of America’s positioning of itself as an ideational economy, one whose aim is now to mastermind the branding and concept behind outsourced production. Jaron Lanier talks about this a lot, and David Graeber’s recent debt book is clarifying how payment is not “becoming” virtual but returning to a virtual state. Hypebucks are legitimate currency on the web. These hierarchical cultural battles and subsuming tendencies are, of course, completely mirrored or even foreshadowed online.
To what extent do you see your artistic identity distributed / decentralised in your numerous blogs and online activities? Is this is a fragmentation or more of an integration?
I feel like this is just a normal desire extended by technology throughout history. When you have that grand, master view of the network, you are free to roam, even from your tiny outpost in it. Power User! It’s a very imperialized lens, far beyond the mechanics of any camera. The roving eye now has its virtual extension, for which there is this dangerous mirage of globalized infinite zoom on an x-y-z scale. That process of generalizing and specifying finds an endless supply, here. There are trends tied to this, too, from having a really open and scattered online presence to a really closed and specific one. For me this depends on what I’m working on at the time, which is the biggest decider of my online mood. Somehow I feel like I’m typing this in response to a lot of social internet situations?? Like, “Sorry but I was busy,” or “It was all a part of the project.” Navigating the divide between these tiny specific audiences and the great beyond of being wifi-based can be intense. I have to say though, having an array of acting projects or identities is really helpful because it keeps whatever karialtmann.com is very free.
Your artistic model seems to advocate a very proactive relationship with the information environment, a sort of humanistic enabling through information tools. Are you an advocate of network ecologies? The first issue of Radical Software (1970) suggested, “Our species will survive neither by totally rejecting nor unconditionally embracing technology - but by humanising it; by allowing people access to the information tools they need to shape and reassert control over their lives.”
I wouldn’t say I’m an advocate, but my work is a response to its habitat.
Garden Club, 2009-ongoing
Is there a certain logic to your image-aggregating projects? Perhaps you could relate this to your notion of “human search algorithms” and the fact that you’ve run into people online who don’t see the underlying structure.
The logic is a vital logic. Each project is figuring out a way to survive in the hype economy, either by colonizing more content or diversifying itself, creating some emergent new sub-product, or simply outlasting its bootleg competitors by reaggregating them. If it fails to go viral it makes that failure part of its statement so that it can outlive the lack of favs or reblogs it gets, or it crafts a way to be part of a bigger statement. Basically by setting up these accounts I’m creating an attractor, an algorithm, that starts to build its own DNA sequence of parameters and set up shop via a results page. It’s sampling each post for the material and labor it needs to keep going, like a rebranding parasite. Once its parameters reach a certain critical mass, they can start to colonize everything. (It’s alive!)
Even the R-U-In?S project at one point became about explaining itself, and it was a really brand-fatigued era. People who are somehow participating in it don’t always get it, but that’s a part of the territory. I have a background that’s found me in a lot of different creative communities, including online ones, and I’ve seen what fizzles out and what outlasts the social group. R-U-In?S for me was just a different approach than anything I’d been a part of before.
The way it’s structured represents a trickled down, black-market-mutated global economy, one in which distanced research entities communicate primarily through their reproduced image-object goods and rebrands in a very public marketplace full of mistranslation, competition, ripoffs, forced diversification, and constantly morphing call and response that is not so obvious to a general audience who isn’t participating. It started as a looted artifact trade based on treating the results of search queries as anthropological records, and it’s grown to encompass all kinds of products and materials in its lexicon of critical currency. Each meme tries to build tiny empires through exchange routes over time that are either supported or abandoned. That’s why the presentations of it have leaned toward Trade Shows, Catalogues, Storefronts, Meeting Rooms, etc. An unspoken social contract develops between each entity as they become entangled. It’s like some warped surf club between fake brands.
Even though it’s a project about misappropriation, I’ve had to stand up for it a few times as it gets aggregated into the wrong context. In some ways these arguments are a part of the project, too, because it’s all about researching those structures. In the end it always tries to aggregate those conflicts back into its premise, which forces the premise to expand again.
Visual literacy can be a problematic topic in the blogosphere, especially for people who aren’t privy to a behind-the-scenes understanding of media production. Of course, it also depends on a shared library of references, but that’s why the projects I have on Tumblr have this “most common denominator” element to them. They’re presented as seemingly obvious (obnoxious?) memes. That’s part of how they lure you into their back-end, and into working for them. You start to see them everywhere. In viral fav networks like those, you have to try to embed the criticality inside that lure, inside something that can become really commodified based on the ecology it exists in, so that even people who are mindlessly spreading it for all the wrong reasons or trolling it are still somehow working for the cause. No labor is wasted. It’s a hierarchical game, but it’s also part of the comment. You can get much better content when people are acting as the algorithms. You become each other’s search bots, voluntarily or not. Aggregational times, Harry, aggregational times!
I like the logic of your responses to Gene McHugh, in that they highlight the mutability of the critical text, too often misinterpreted as rigid and invariable. Also that such texts have their own patterns of circulation, around the internet and in the more abstract intellectual sphere.
But what relationship should the artist have with their own surrounding critical discourse? Are there any parallels here with the instant feedback you must experience in your own online networks, both amongst your peers and in wider (internet) circles?
Gene’s writings on Post Internet were really just a performative blog of looking at things online and responding. In some cases he’d talked to me about the ideas beforehand for over a year, and in some he hadn’t. Essentially they are still his reads, his proposals, with some influence from me. He works as a curator so his texts reflect that, but it was also partially about the experience of coming across things on the internet and trying to figure them out. It stood out because it was actually considered and involved with a lot of the artists it covered. It’s funny that it became such a thing!
There really isn’t much directly engaged writing going on about the things I find myself talking about with people on Gchat or at the bar because artists are usually focused on putting it into their work. A lot of posting online is being done by people who have just gone to three urls and a party, so it’s extremely speculative. That’s to be expected, but when that’s all that is ever documented in writing about an artist’s work, those blog posts wind up circulating around, getting printed, and being treated like primary documents when they definitely aren’t. In the case of art online there’s often still a lot of basic presentational framing missing. When filmmakers or musicians release a project, it’s quite an ordeal. There’s a ton of context and it’s very clear what the product is and who is behind it. Those things can be missing in a process aiming beyond a product method, where people assume anything they see on your site to be “it” and begin writing about “it” in the same moment. Product-oriented thinking is still so engrained. I mean at this point most artists are just an email away so it’s assumed that people are going to open up a direct communication line with questions. Talking about it all is very easy, but posting it online becomes a different beast, partially because of the nature of online content and comment section polemics. Whatever press or criticism is, is now bound up in the same muddy arenas with everything else. Plus, you know, you don’t want to contribute to the problem. Trying to create some kind of respectful record of very deep currents takes a lot of time and care.
Is any blog the end-all-be-all or the final word? No. There should be a lot more people doing what Gene did, if they’re interested. I consider my Tumblr accounts like publishing outlets, but things that aren’t text-based or book-formatted aren’t always recognized as a form of discourse. I try to show them as documentary films, too. Gene was happy I posted responses because he meant for his blog to be a conversation-starter, and was surprised more artists didn’t do the same (so he’s said). Having something to bounce off of and respond to is really helpful— for instance free range interview prompts like this one with no word or content limit. I wouldn’t write about a lot of these topics normally because I’ve heard them talked about so much, but I forget they might not be as accessible as they could be. So I don’t mind the repetitive questions too much. That’s why I’m interested in projects like Gene’s and others that are more collaborative, because they actually assist artists in the research and citation process, which aids them in representing themselves instead of contributing to the pattern of outsourcing the artist into oblivion. Writing for me is usually post-mortem for when a project is over, and I still don’t think that everything needs to be accompanied by texts, nor do I think any artist should publish those texts until they are ready to do it at a level they’re proud of. In the meantime, there is another big job on deck.
You talk about instant feedback but just as an fyi, that doesn’t always happen. Because things connected online are very geographically distanced, even talk about each other’s work can be just as speculative as a result of the lack of contact. When artists have access to each other, they don’t always use it productively, and that’s contributing to the lack of substance. You can only get so far through emails or vague notions of one another. The grant to give would be something that gathers everyone in one place, say, for the big 2012 party. Just a thought!
The internet or any kind of scene recognition can actually make people more paranoid about sharing ideas and expressing reactions as much as it can facilitate it. There seems to be this assumption that any productive artist is part of an equally rigorous critical peer group, and that they’ve had tons of practice arguing out all of their ideas. Everyone still seems to assume that whatever’s happening in this area of art is very distanced from them, as though everyone involved is some mega celebrity with their own separate lives…but surprise! You are a participant in something still relatively specific, small, and blossoming, and it might be more up to you than you even realize. You are not outside the network, you are a node. I wind up explaining this a lot: it’s up to art venues and others in the audience to commission (or at least request) a lot of the ideas listed on the site into final presentations, and it’s up to you to ask the questions you want answered. It’s not that there is no thought or conversation going on about this! It’s just that it’s not always done justice or publicized properly because of that haze.
[brands heterogeneity / state. work as an exploration of flux? -> relation to location / lived patterns? -> (how) does this relate to (e-)waste?]
^ Are these questions you’re working on?
I guess there aren’t many questions specifically about…what, personhood? Which might be nice to tap into… As I was saying before, artist interviews tend to be really meta online, almost to the point of being droll? I’ve just finished typing out two different interviews, both of which found me talking about brains in jars…
!! Perhaps I’m really guilty of that. Or maybe the internet leads quite naturally to abstracted modes of thinking. It’s already proven that our cognitive abilities are being reshaped by new media, the obvious example being increasing disability to recall proper terms, with emphasis on process (the google search) subduing the actual remembering. Even that example sort of supports itself. Thus I guess we shouldn’t overlook the virtue of conversation around something as seemingly arbitrary as a favourite colour. I can’t even think if I have one now.
Yeah the questions get so concept-driven that there’s this pressure to make it that primary document. I just went through this and deleted even more because I find myself using interview prompts and gmail faq’s as an excuse to start branching off into an essay, but those are a different format with a responsibility to cite and reference.
I want to avoid that pressure when I’m just typing a conversational Gdoc to someone I don’t know, you know?
Not to mention the need now, at the end of typing, to add a lot of interesting links and content, like that Delicio.us TL;DR pressure…I’ll go through now and add some, plus those mall pics.
lol. How much of Kari Altmann as a person is manifest in your presence on the internet? Is the personality of the artist something that appeals to you?
Right now I’m really into artists’ backgrounds and personal behavior. I want to know all the gossip! Obviously I’m interested in networks and power relationships…I love a good face-off. I’m always relieved to find out all the complicated, torrid social histories that parallel the ones I’ve been a part of in all these scenes. I would much rather be a part of something where everyone cares so much and is going through all these turbulent, deep, and weird things together than faking it or acting super blank. Or even worse— playing it safe, standing for nothing, or doing nothing at all. It’s proof of vitality when there is friction and heat, and that’s what makes those sparks, you know? The alternative is a group of really afraid people doing things that are ultimately forgettable and lost with time. Nobody learns anything.
As for me, I’m just available enough online, and it’s about 15% of the picture. I’m sure there is a personality tone that pervades a lot of my online activity. It’s part of my approach to the internet, though: I have slumber party mode and then CEO death cubicle mode. Isn’t this all a video game anyway?
http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Internet_(video_game). Final question: What’s your favourite color?
Tempted to answer with flourescent beige…but for the sake of fav colors and artist backgrounds: there is a certain color scheme that I’m really attracted to, one that can be described as “Crepusculo”.
Korean WorldPhone Card, bought in Seoul in 2007
Samsung Plasma TV Trade Show Image
I’m approaching this as an art direction, but I think my attraction to it is twofold:
1. The range of colors makes for really rich images which obviously seem more “valuable.”
2. It’s embedded into palettes that surrounded me growing up in Texas, which are part of a larger sensation. Not just the muted soil tones of the Silicon Prairie land and the sunlit shades of wide blue skies over superflat horizons, but also the pink bricks of superluxe houses, the concrete of highways and spread out telecom companies, and the mix of dusty, desert-like air with super glossy big-money consumer culture. One of the reasons Texas attracts so many start-ups and franchises is quite literally because of the land: there is tons of it, it’s flat, it’s dry, it’s cheap, and there is no state tax. Not so great for plants and animals but ideal for corporations. Ironically it turns into clay or bedrock pretty quickly as you dig down so things have to be built on very shallow foundations; very few of these developments go below surface level. Marble malls, sparkling limestone Mcmansions, leather Lexus interiors, ice cold air conditioning, tons of slippery blue, black, and gold glass, and lots of franchise-y indoor l.e.d. lighting schemes from a city that was absolutely booming and crashing in the 1990s and early 2000s. It gets more and more desert-like in memory, actually. It was this strange mix of liquid and arid, like a coating of luxury conditioner over this barren frontier-type landscape. It felt geological and synthetic at once? Just something very immediate and chemically enhanced placed over lands that felt very prehistoric and reptile-friendly. The fantasy-image used to plow the earth, you know?
Image from BLOOD:\ (MOBILE UPLOADS), taken in Las Vegas, 2010
Every place has its own flavor of this. The only other places I’ve been that have moments of the same aftertaste are more recently developed parts of L.A. and Las Vegas, both of which are a total mindfuck, and this is part of my fascination with seemingly similar landscapes and cities I’ve yet to visit like Dubai. This is also a color profile that cameras tend to enhance under generic white balance settings, and one that photographers aim for at “magic hour”, which is a block of time when the outside light is at its most pornographic. It’s especially attractive for product images that need to sell that idea of nutrient-rich luxury, or for people shooting in HD.
The places I’ve lived since then have all been extremely different, by no accident.
This sort of material was the impetus for projects like blackmoth.org and blackmoth.info, which are interested in locating an earthbound geological materiality in the formations of images left behind by the climes of media production, a method which finds its niche among projects by Heim Steinbach and Robert Smithson. Richard Kelly is also a huge comrade.
I think the project has ended or at least hit a stopping point with Core Samples, and on Tumblr it’s developed a nice network of similar content.
Documentation from Core Samples: Blackmoth.info Body Piercings, 2011
Body by Body will be in conversation with cmd for the duration of their current exhibition at Important Projects (http://importantprojects.net/index.php?/future/body-by-body/). This can be viewed publicly at https://docs.google.com/document/d/12pLrqeUtlcekATYEK8ZKdSvgnKDbYb-0P0plXH3AvV8/edit. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to edit. (All requests will be granted).
Limited edition @ http://www.luckypdf.com/slide/index.html (RD).
Get them whilst they’re still hot.
In conversation with parkerito.com and, ultimately, Sarah Rosamond
Somehow I feel it’d be interesting to begin by focusing on your third party representation (bios/intros etc) across the internet. To what extent do you see this diffusion of yourself as part of your artistic output/identity?
Currently I’m in West Sussex. I go on YouTube and search “whirlpool”. This is the first video that comes up - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx8vA9jBEFk.
I think whirlpools are a good metaphor for the flow of information on the Internet, and I think searching “whirlpool” on YouTube is a good example of this metaphor in action. This video has over 9 million views. I had one upload on YouTube that had like 10,000 views. It was a video of a giant shit that wouldn’t flush down the toilet. It got flagged and removed. This guy named Brooklynsfinest2007 kept messaging me telling me he’d pay me to shit in his mouth. I asked him what shit tastes like, he said “it depends on what the person eats LOL.”
Why does this video come up first when I search “whirlpool”? Why does this video have over 9 million views? Does this video have 9 million views because it comes up first in the search, or does it come up first in the search because it has 9 million views?
Information in the whirlpool (Internet) spins around and around, gaining context and losing context. The most visible place is the center (even though this is probably the shittiest place to be in an actual whirlpool). When and where to drop your information in the whirlpool is really the secret of the Internet, and big corporations pay tons of money to have people tell them this shit.
The whole Rebecca Black phenomenon illustrates this beautifully.
I dropped a bunch of shit in the whirlpool back in late 2008 / early 2009 and it’s still floating around. This leads into your next question and I’ll answer it here, but you should still leave the question in the same place. I’ve always talked about (or been talked about as) being from California, and that influencing my work. Or maybe actually the Internet influenced my decision to make it known that I was from California. I grew up in Orange County, right next to Huntington Beach. Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City USA”.
I’ve referenced the Beach Boys several times in projects as a way of referencing an idea about a lifestyle. In my mind this surfer/California lifestyle paralleled my projected Internet lifestyle. The Beach Boys named after and based their image on the surfer lifestyle, even though only one of the Beach Boys could actually surf (I think it was Denny). Even though I’m from California I don’t really like going to the beach, and I’ve claimed to be an Internet expert / professional web surfer in other interviews, but maybe I don’t know shit about the Internet, just like the Beach Boys didn’t actually surf.
One of the best interviews I’ve ever read was an interview about Maurizio Cattelan in Wallpaper magazine. Instead of interviewing Maurizio directly they just asked his gallerists, curators, and friends to speak about him.
Your Californian heritage is often emphasised, a detail that might seem paradoxical to some given the boundarylessness of the internet. For example, thecreatorsproject: ‘L.A.-based artist and internet wunderkind Parker Ito isn’t defined by the confinements of geography, as his stomping grounds can be accessed virtually from any computer.’ How important is location / identity to you?
Whirlpools are natural phenomena, upon which, once developed, we as humans can have little effect. Do you think we are as helpless when it comes to controlling this virtual whirlpool? I’ve phrased that somewhat pessimistically, but it would be interesting to consider any positive outcomes of this information flow. Further, although your above answer accepts a level of authorship over at which point we drop information in this whirlpool metaphor, there seems to me just as many instances in which we might add or create information unwittingly as part of our daily interaction with the web. Even from what books or games you browse on amazon you are creating information about yourself, which is then part of the public domain with the potential to effect how other parties interact with you.
I have about 10 email accounts. Some of them I use only for signing up for porn sites. I’m pretty sure if you searched one of these email addresses in Google you could see some of the porn I’ve been looking at.
In essence we can’t hide from the accountability of our actions. I think there’s the potential to perceive something weird and fatalistic in this, but we should really fight against seeing the big corporations - the metanationals - in this light. To what extent do you see ‘Parker Ito’ as a brand? The top google result for ‘whirlpool’ is a home appliances company.
If I say “yes I’m a brand” people might think I’m full of shit.
Or the above statement reaffirms my status as a self aware, transparent, brand.
Or nobody has figured out that I’m just a dog yet.
Lol. I find your Metro Gallery interview particularly interesting because it reappears across the internet in some kind of obscure places.
Personalisation of the internet has become a popular topic of discussion over the last few months. Yet your quotation of others to describe yourself coupled with its then saturation of your google search seems to point to a depersonalisation of the internet, a sort of outsourcing of identity. To what extent is this a concern of yours? Can we see these concerns reflected in your Most Infamous Girl project?
This goes back to the whirlpool idea.
The Internet is all about access to information. But in the way that we’re all creating and dispersing information about ourselves, the Internet is also about outsourcing of identity. If you don’t know how to outsource your identity, you don’t really know your identity. Recently, ‘when Nestle wanted to find out more about what Australians talked about in the kitchen, it created a 5000-strong online community and began a regular, two-way conversation with grocery buyers’. And often, when people want to know where they are within their social circle, they create a ~500-strong online community and begin a regular, two-way conversation with friends. Most of the time this is harmless. Maybe the Parked Domain Girl paintings take this idea to its extreme, highlighting this conflict over Hannah, the ‘Attractive Student’s image / identity / personality. As Artie Vierkant said, ‘Parker’s Parked Domain Girl paintings involve him versioning the same jpeg over and over until his personal brand can overtake or become synonymous with one of the most widely-circulated images on the internet.’
I don’t really know how much control I have over it all. Maybe it would have been more appropriate if you answered this question for me as how you would think I would answer it, I guess so I could find out.
Should discourse around your painting consider these ideas? Could the whirpool be used as a metaphor for the wider flow of information in general, beyond the internet? Perhaps your use of paint is a material reflection of this.
To consider flow of information in terms confined by the Internet seems wrong. Often people introduce me as or call me an Internet artist, yet I’ve made mostly paintings in the last two years. Maybe discourse or whatever should start there. It’s also funny how I introduced this whirlpool idea in my first response, and we’re still talking about it here, it’s got caught up in it’s own mini-whirlpool in this article. Which is why maybe I have a concern over leading this notion of discourse too authoritatively, I don’t know whether that’s good or bad.
JstChillin created a centralised platform for a number of convergent practices, and, for the uninitiated viewer, thus becomes an important resource. To what extent did this project help create a sense of community? Further, how was this community then effected by its culmination?
The other day someone was telling me how READ/WRITE was kinda like a degree show, an international degree show with everyone you wanted to go to school with. In my mind the show was quite symbolic as it clearly marked the end of something, and I think this transcended the project. I made a status update about this right before the show that said something like: “Having a solo show and selling work is cool, but my all time fav. is having a group show with a bunch of your friends that you met off the Internet.”
Actually the person that was telling me how the show was like a degree show was Sarah Hartnett, an artist who was in the show, and also my current GF. We only met because of the JstChillin show. So maybe our relationship is an extension of that project? That’s a romantic notion, but it’s probably not that true.
Some of the artists in the show have told me that they met a lot of people through JstChillin, and I hope we were able to facilitate some sort of dialogue. There was a lot of good work that got made, I’m really proud of what we were able to do. We had tons of fun, and I got to become close with some really interesting people.
I’m not really sure how to answer this question because I feel too close to everything and that clouds my judgement. It felt like there was a lot of energy behind it, but at the same time it almost feels like it never happened, it wasn’t that influential, just good timing. I’ve seen like two articles in the last 2 weeks that speak about online galleries and how they’re so “radical”, yet none of these articles mentioned JstChillin. But none of these articles mentioned Netdreams and Netmares, or Club Internet either.
What about online collectives functioning to the same end as Warhol’s factory in the ‘60s?
Warhol was kind of using people though no? The factory seemed more about hype and excitement than actually production. This idea that if you’re at the center you’re important by default. Are you saying that I’m Andy Warhol and JstChillin was my “factory”
Not at all, I was more thinking about how people would gravitate from around America to this kind of environment, as a way of escaping whatever dull suburban or domestic reality they were trapped in. The internet offers kids the chance to ‘escape’ their homes without even leaving their bedroom. But maybe this isn’t so much true of an artist’s practice as certain forums where just normal weird kids congregate, or perhaps some youtube comments threads where people find a voice or a subculture. Maybe there’s a more accurate comparison between online collectivity and broader environments such as Greenwich Village.
I like the Montparnasse parallel because it feels more romantic. Object sexuality is quite interesting in this regard. At the time the film “Married to the Eiffel Tower” was made object sexuality was quite a rare thing. The film follows a group of women who are in love with objects, but because of the Internet they are all able to meet up and hang out. Well now this shit gets talked about on Tyra Banks. In essence the Internet has maybe destroyed counter culture? Everything becomes normalized and consumed by mainstream culture so quickly. I can’t imagine what porn will look like in 5 years. Will it even turn me on anymore?
Ironically the art world still seems to be afraid of the of the Internet, or not equipped to handle its full potential. There are moments of transcendence, but if you don’t have an object based practice people aren’t that excited, and even then people still want to touch the stuff. Sadly, you still have to network as much offline as you do online. Hopefully this will change soon. I feel like I’ve said that so many times that it’s become a Parker Ito cliché.
I think the most rewarding thing about being a part of an insular community is that you know who your audience is, and that fosters some really great dialogue, and giant circle jerks.
Your new jpegs exhibition seems to have been structured around an emphasis upon the post-medium condition. This is a notion that has gained considerable momentum over the last ten years, with commentators such as Krauss emphasising a state in which media has become so conflated that the artist must strive to attain a purification of art itself. In what way does the post-internet post-medium differ from that explored in the institutional art world of the last decade? Do you see this as a node at which post-internet practice can align itself with the art world at large?
In my social circle I have two main group of friends - my skateboarding friends, and my Internet / art friends. These groups rarely interact, with the exception of them maybe liking the same thing on Facebook. Several of my “friends” on Facebook are people that I went to high school with and haven’t really kept in contact with (except for being their friend on Facebook). I often wonder if they see what I’m posting and think to myself “do they care, or is this just annoying them”? I have a really hard time explaining what I do to non-artists. People always say to me “what’s your medium?” Most of the time I respond with “Internet”, but that really confuses them. What I’m getting at is that time in itself creates new identities - one of my favorite past times is coming across the nerdy girl from high school who is now a hardcore socialite hipster. Some people know me as “Parker Ito skateboarder”, some people know me as “Parker Ito annoying Facebooker”.
But in my eyes the primary goal of a post-medium practice is that the form always serves the idea first.
Is gender a significant aspect of ‘The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet’? Notions of sexuality have featured prominently in discussion of Warhol’s Marilyn series, of which a parallel has been made since Gene McHugh considered the relation of the two; should such themes form a part of the discourse of your work? Perhaps traditional conceptions of gender and sexuality have changed in the historical interim, aided and abetted by technologies such as the internet.
For a long time art about identity seemed really cheesy and boring to me. Then I realized all of my work was about my identity, but a new kind of identity that is almost a non-identity, that has occurred because of the Internet. I make work under myself, then as Deke McClelland Two, and then I’m doing this new project with Sarah Hartnett under the name Olivia Calix. So I guess I’m exploring these different identities, different personas, and different sexualities. The Parked Domain Girl paintings are very perverse, but at the same time that image is so watered down and WASPy. Deke 2 is totally hypersexual, basically misogynistic at some points, and more “urban”.
I’m big believer in multiple personalities, that’s to say in our desire to have multiple personalities. It’s also why google+, I think, had the potential be successful. Although perhaps there’s something interesting in how you define between multiple personalities and multiple identities. Can you talk more about Olivia Calix? Maybe introduce a bit of what that’s going to be?
Most people have multiple personalities. I was born under the star sign gemini, the twins, so I believe my personalities to be quite extreme. At times I’ve had people describe me as shy, quiet, and aloof, while at other times I’ve had people tell me that I’m intimidating, loud, and obnoxious. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, and also depends on my mood and what substances I’m on. I didn’t start drinking alcohol frequently until about last fall, and I still only really like drinking Bellinis and White Russians. Alcohol and drinking was an important business move for me, as one of my professors once told me, “more art business goes down in clubs and bars than anywhere else.” I spent three weeks in New York this year and I was really fucked up for about 19 of those days, but I think this is what New York does to people anyways.
With the aid of technology it’s a lot easier to curate multiple identities simultaneously and really sell them. The movie “Catfish” would be a really obvious example of this. I used to get really depressed when I would meet someone AFK and their personal brand didn’t live up to the hype, but then I realized that that’s one of the new ways we’re experiencing these technologies in our daily lives.
At a certain point I decided that I wanted to exhaust this Parked Domain idea, just really do it for so long that it became annoying. I’ve decided that 2012 is going to be the last year I produce them, this seems appropriate as the world might end. I’d like to do a “retrospective” show of the paintings as well. Somewhere through the project I started getting really bored of myself and this certain kind of thinking. For me the Parked Domain paintings are like “conceptual” works, they’re very rigid in how I approach them.
I’ve always tried to tear down the personal brand that I’ve created in my previous works. Like I see myself as these mini movements and I’m always reacting to the prior one. In 2009 I made all Single Serving Sites primarily based on video work, while in 2010 I reacted to this by returning to painting. So it was really obvious for me to do the Deke 2 paintings, because I didn’t want to disturb the brand of “Parker Ito Parked Domain Girl”, but I wanted to do something to get myself out of a certain kind of process and thinking mode. Deke 2 was a return to material exploration and real hardcore formal painting decisions, really hands on, studio based work that I would describe as “hot”. I hadn’t started painting back into the parked domain paintings yet, and it was the first time I was touching oil paint in maybe 4 years. It felt really refreshing. The full name of the alias is “Deke McClelland Two”, which is a name based on the Photoshop guru Deke McClelland. The personality of Deke 2 is kind of Martin Kippenberger meets Lil B. Keith Boadwee, a former professor of mine, responding to the Deke 2 paintings once said, “Fuck I can’t even watch you paint. You really do not give a fuck at all.” I thought to myself, “Jesus christ Keith, your most famous works are you shitting paint on canvas and you say I don’t give a fuck about painting? I must really be onto something.” To clear the air though, I really love painting, but am really interested in the cliche’d “painter hater” position.
Paint FX was also a project that I tried to push as conceptual for a long time, but latter realized it was more radical to just say it was completely formal. In hindsight I’m really proud of Paint FX, our output, and our sensitivity to software.
Olivia Calix is somewhere in between Deke 2 and Parked Domain, it could be read as a formalist project, but it’s also becoming extremely complex because of the nature of its context. Maybe even creating binaries like “formal” and “conceptual” is stupid at this point though. Olivia Calix started out as a critique of an aesthetic that could maybe be associated with the 3rd wave of “Internet Based Art”, or Tumblr era. This is when Internet based artists became less nerdy and more hipstery. You know this aesthetic looks really sexy, and that’s why it’s so popular, but there’s just so much of it online today that it starts to feel empty. The project is also responding to some discussion about female visibility in the online community, which a female / male duo creating work under a female alias could be a strive for some post gender bullshit. Ultimately the project Olivia Calix is a critique of ourselves (the artists), because we can’t really escape our actions like we want to. Either way people are going to click the “like” button on Facebook. This may seem like a really insular conversation, but there’s also this goal to create a kind of taste algorithm for 40 somethings and above (the people who run the art world). Recently though, I’ve become extremely interested in the parallels between Surrealism and Tumblr and I’m thinking about a kind of neo-proto-hipster-surrealism that takes the form of object fetishism sculptures and installations based on prevalent jpeg aeshetics aided by Tumblr personal taste filters.
One of the first projects we did was the single serving site http://www.tumbler.me.uk, which is the first single serving site I’ve made since 2009. The purpose of the site was to set a tone for the whole project and this site even proceeded OliviaCalix.com. The site presents some tropes of Tumblr but sort of reimagined as these fucked up hybrid sculptures in a white cube. We’re always trying to create a best of, or greatest hits. Each project we do is treated like it’s that last, and that feels really exciting. Thanks to James Stringer btw for helping us realize our “3D Magnum Opus”.
I think it’s appropriate that Sarah also discusses the project as I’m not the only voice of Olivia Calix.
I don’t think self-criticism is an exhausted trope. Or to put it differently, critical awareness of the artistic self could yet be an affirmation of the artistic self. I like how one of your formative actions was to attempt to create a greatest hits. Maybe bring Sarah in here? She could definitely have an extended role in this, perhaps she has some questions of her own? Sarah, I think it’s more appropriate if I stop referring to you in third person.
In regards to varying identities online, I’m interested in the whole camwhore culture and how it’s hard to separate oneself from that to a certain extent when loneliness/desire are prevalent feelings growing up on the internet. I’ve had the internet since I was 11, but if I could chart my 14 year history online the bookmarks would mostly be made up of dating websites and chat rooms. I was pretty lonely growing up in the middle of a field in England… the internet provided a connection/fantasy with the outside world, however convoluted that vision may have been. Representing myself on the internet became a part of everyday life; I lied about my age/name/location and tried to take flattering pictures of myself with a shitty webcam. Everyone is trend watching now- everyone has a tumblr/blog pushing their own taste which most of the time, knowingly or unknowingly, has been constructed through dominant algorithms, which we’re not exempt from, and therefore neither is Olivia Calix.
We decided to make it known that this was an assumed name, an adopted persona: actively placing ourselves within another perspective so that we might be able to work differently, with more freedom. If she had been considered to be a real person making this work then there’d be fewer questions asked. Our own practices touch on varying areas of fashion/lifestyles/ecology which are all relevant in the context of Olivia Calix.
I guess I primarily became motivated about Olivia Calix when I thought about her in conversation with Deke2. I liked the idea of a feisty hot girl coming up against this overtly misogynistic rogue painter and playing him at his own game to an extent. Deke is a parody of itself however, and almost cancels itself out, and there’s a certain freedom in its extreme and mocking nature which is easy to revel in or reject; I like that you have to choose, there’s no middle ground. It’s all likes on tumblr and fb. Youtube, in comparison, is slightly harsher in its critique which makes people stand by their belief in a music video/dance tutorial with great conviction- I love the emotion on there.
I guess the video piece we made with James Stringer for the San Francisco show was a full stop to a certain aesthetic which we ourselves have indulged in and thought was cool. We just pulled several elements together we’d seen again and again on the net and branded them with the OC symbol and added some of our own sub-narrative (via the detailing in the pubey floating bio-hazard sign, shiny dildos, rippling water, sexy reflections).
In response to Parker’s point about female visibility, Olivia Calix does respond somewhat to this conversation which has been discussed sporadically over the last year on and off fb; I found the tallying of female vs male artists in exhibitions to be an increasingly divisive conversation. I think you’re dealing with some big personalities online, which may crumble when you meet them AFK or may be even more intense upon contact, but either way gender neutrality is, and will continue to be, more tangible online. Reflecting on the sound piece which was part of the show in San Fran kind of ties in with issues of gender, whilst being completely tongue in cheek. We used Akon’s “sexy bitch” as the kind of theme tune, playing loud in the gallery with a sound sensitive t-shirt on top of the speakers. The song is obviously just another monotonous commercial “pop” song with bleak undercurrents of female objectification but I like how glaringly defective the lyrics are: even though he tries really(?) hard to find the words to describe this attractive girl without being disrespectful, he instantly resorts to using a derogatory, sexist and offensive label, “sexy Bitch”. But at the same time he’s also highlighting her, “hyper-femininity”. There’s just something quite absurd and retarded about that.
I wonder if Olivia Calix would work if she wasn’t ‘hot’? For me this envisioned personality points to interesting questions about the relationship between embodiment and desire, of course in today’s online environment, but also recognising this itself as an embodiment of dominant cultural undercurrents, the algorithms you refer to.
Hot can refer to a lot of traits in a person, not just their physical hotness! How they make work/how they represent themselves/what images they choose to represent themselves with via image aggregator sites. Oh yeah, Harry, you can edit out whatever you want from my extended train of thought!!
All I’ve really edited has been grammar. I feel that to switch attention right back to Parker at this point would be crass, but at the same time I think this last question has a place in this interview. Do you identify with the term ‘post-irony’?
I’m skeptical of anything with “post” in front of it. I’d say yes though. Hipster culture really fucked irony up, and I’m totally part of hipster culture, but I’m like a proto hip because I’m an artist. To say that is even ironic, but it’s also valid and sincere. So I guess I’m answering a question about post-irony with post-irony.
Post-everything -> repost-everything. I think we should get over it.
This interview was conducted, sporadically and distractedly, between June and September 2011. Parker was, variously, in London, Sussex, Malmö, Berlin, Venice, Tokyo and Los Angeles. Sarah was in some but not all of these.
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