060206 Net Aesthetics 2.0 NOTES

060206 Net Aesthetics 2.0

Electronic Arts Intermix in conjunction w rhizome.org

panel members

1. wolfgang staehle2. cory arcangel3. michael bell-smith4. marisa olson - sf based editor and art curator of rhizome5. michael connor6. caitlin jones - researcher at the gugghi

moderator* lauren cornell

Intro Rmks

* 1976 - NJ Paik called for broadband internet

Lauren’s Intro Rmks

* rhizome started out as a mailning list in 1996* era of jodi.org* slow, very experimental* contrasted to today: multimedia, high speed, culturally ubiquitous* how has the work changed?  how has the nature and reception of art online changed?

* Introduces panel


Empire 24/7

* the Thing started in 1996* office had a view of the empire state bldg* thought of warhol, put a camera on it, started tinkering, just left it there* in 1999 was invited to a german exhibition; had never thouhhgt about presenting in a exhibition context* upon exhibition, it wasn't working; the screen was blank.  was the camera broken? the connectino?  no; it was 7am in nyc and the sun was coming up, blinding the camera.  this was Wolfgang's moment of rupture

Twin Towers

* time lapse video piece that was set up on 6 september 2001, took an img of the WTC every 5 secs* shooting the WTC from what looks like the bkln Navy Yard* http://2001.thing/net* he did some other time-lapse stuff


Super Mario Clouds

  • the first thing cory ever did that made him think the internet was cool: he was making abstract computer art, and then he went into the Super Mario Clouds
  • he made teh artwork for the website bc there was no opportunity to show
  • the art was an explanation of how he made it, moreso than the piece itself
  • included threats to otehr artists: “you mess w the best, you die like the rest”
  • after it started getting around, he was invited to show it in galleries; that changed the nature of the project
  • “i wanted to make a webpage about a project that ppl would never have to see to know what it is”

Pizza Party

  • command line pizza-ordering app that he made at eyebeam w micharl frimin
  • “its cool that this .mov is small, bc that’s what teh internet used to look like”
  • “the point of hte project is that it is possible to send a guy running around the city with a few keystrokes”


  • http://www.doogle.com
  • when i put something online, its for ppl at work. its not like the gallery scene
  • dooogle only returns results for doogie houser, md

“Sailing” by Christopher Cross in Arabic

Punk ROck 101

  • Kurt Cobain’s suicide letter w google ads

Michael Bell-Smith

  • “My laptop died last wk, so i wanted to tell everyone ‘you should back up yr data'”
  • i want to talk about some videos both in an art-historical sense, but also in relation to the internet

Continue 2000

  • looks like an animated gif of a superhero faceing the sun, back to camera, red cape flapping, standing on the roof of a house, floating over textured boomerands. every so often, the sun explodes
  • this is something that hasn’t been put on the internet, and may not be. related to what he calls “internet folk art”, a few memes that come through
  • he’s shoeing a bunch of ranma1/2 animated gifs, mostly looping scenes of running or hair blowing in the wind. looks like scot mccloud’s type4(?) type of comic panel: scene setting, tonal
  • instance of folk art: animated gifs as avatars on forum boards
  • sprites – “bldg blocks of all video games before everything got 3D”
  • ppl all over the internet are capturing these sprites, frame by frame, from video games, re-using the sprites as building blocks for their own animation

R. Kelly’s ‘Trapped in the Closet ch 1-5 played Simultaneously’ by Michael Bell-Smith

  • uses R.KElly’s “Trapped int he Closet” video as its source
  • a pop song that comes in different parts
  • pulpy soap opera
  • all the parts have the same melody and cadence
  • there were 5 parts when he made this; now there’re 12 parts
  • the idea was to play all of them on top of each other, kind of as a mash-up
  • a little reminiscant of luke’s Billboard piece


  • the whole reason i do all the things i do is bc i’m interested in communication, or what plato et al called “techne”.
  • major obsession w pop culture and the history of communication
  • i just released my first xmas album, “the jackson 5 xmas as lup synched by marisa”
  • had no friends, became interested in ideas of ‘voice’ as a signature and our most recognizable communication
  • marisa’s american idol audiotion training blog
  • “all musicians have calluses” – stood in stilettos for 36 hrs
  • once she started getting hits, she realized that it was all 18 yr olds who took it seriously
  • got kinda pissed that these 18 yr olds weren’t voting for pres, they were only voting for AI


  • took detritus from her desktop: pics laying around, sounds, whatever
  • interested in iMovies’s style: forced nostalgia

Abe and Mo sing the Blogs

  • blues represent teh voice of the ppl
  • blogs represent the voice of the ppl too
  • picked some favorite blog posts and sang them

Troy’s Mixtape of Love

  • asked 10 artists to be listened to when sitting in a bar on a sunday morning, sipping a bloody mary, waiting for yr sweetheart
  • found troy’s mixtape (no music, only a few moment where he sings–the rest is a heartfelt confessional tape to his gf (who dumped him a few days later))
  • after she dumped him, the new bf put the tape on the internet
  • marisa put MIDI tracks behind troy

Universal Acid

  • on NYE they posted green screen videos of marisa singing karaoke
  • “Universal ACid” refers to evolution being such a powerful idea that it cuts across all fields and dogmas
  • as the day wears on and her voice gets weak and some drinking happens,
  • “transmission” is understood as a communication vector and a disease vector
  • she wanted this to be an STD for yr brain

Michael Connor

  • the implied narrative of “2.0” is some sort of rebirth or renaissance
  • in the mid-late 1990s, the internet art boom mirrored the dotcom boom
  • after the crash, no one wanted to touch it again, until very recently, when this stuff got credible/popular again
  • “content is king” –> “information wants to be free”
  • Bruce Sterling wrote “information wants to be worthless”; michael sees this as a 3rd way
  • evreyone ont he panel has an anthropological bent to all of this
    • marisa, cory, and michael have a participatory vibe
    • wolfgang is more removed and objective
    • at what point do you draw a line bw what ppl do on the internet and the work that you do and that you call ‘art’? Wolfgang, lets start w you.
      • WS – i’m not really following what’s going on. i want my pics in the galleries asap, i’m not really following internet culture. After like 10 years of it i felt fried, liek i had my head stuck in a microwave. I needed to get out.
      • MC – i guess that i’m fascinated bc the piece that you showed is a live camera feed, and also yr WTC piece where a mundane piece became totally tragic due to events beyond yr control. That’s kind of a found object. WHere do you position yrself in relation to the art world?
      • WS – i’m basically using it bc i’m interested in questions of “what does it mean to be here, in the world?”
        We’re talking about ‘aesthetics’, but what’s aesthetic about staring at a screen?
      • LC – I think the Q might be more relavent for the other artists, so i’ll restate it: how do you take That Which Is Not Considered Art and turn it into art? When yr working with so many professionals and so many amateurs, how do you distinguish online bw what is art and what is not or does it not matter?
      • CA – when ther’es all this stuff, by all these ppl that’re making such better stuff than me? and then, where do i fit in?
        I call it the 14 yr old finnish kid syndrome. THere’re ppl doing stuff that’s so frickin’ cool, and in the art context it could work. the way i think of it, as a real benefit. not only do i have a community of friends, but i have a global community that inspires me and that i have to keep abreast of. i consider that stuff equal w the art stuff, and that my daily battle is to make sure that ht e stuff i make fits into th art context as well as that other contezt. when i put something on my blog, as soon as it gets copied, i’m no longer an ‘artist’.
      • MBS – i think there’s a shift in internet 2.0 in that things arent’ treated so preciously. someone might be at work and look at doogle at work, and then surf right to kevin federline gossip.
      • MO – i reached this moment that everything i did is about the fan anyway, and this is the crazy stuff i’m compelled to do and i’m grateful that ppl are calling it art. when ppl rmx my stuff i get super-duper excited


  • i like to talk about “internet folk art” or as i call it “internet outsider art”. let’s talk about nostalgia; pretty much erverything we saw tonight was not from 2006, it was from 199x. Cory, i know you say you don’t like to indulge in nostalgia, and its not about nostalgia, its just abotu cheap computers…but esp yr internet stuff, it really is.
  • no one can deal w caitlin calling ‘bullshit’.
  • MBS – i think there’s a progression aroudn technology and aesthetics. i think a good way to deal w that is to take it back a bit and think of it as mediated and say “the internet looked like __ a few yrs ago, isn’t that crazy”. But remember that we’re in one of those moments now.
  • CA – i have two contradictory ways of looking at this:
    • on one hand, nothing is obsolete
    • ont he other hand, that’s a lie. the thing about tech’y is that it moves so fast. but 15 yrs ago, the speed of change was so much slower. its just easier to take a few yrs off of it. i’m not sure what myspace means right now, but in two years i’ll know what it meant
  • CJ – i hear Cory as reacting to this slick corporate takeover of the internet
  • MO – for me, this si about ‘there’s so much info otu there’. that’s why i’m obsessed w greatest hits albums. its a retroactive making-sense-of things, things that’re new to me.
  • LC – this appropriation seems like a way of being allowed ot participate. i was thinking of how ridiculous teh web is, but that’s a way to participate and celepbrate
  • CA – i just think its impossible to keep up. other mediums are slower. i don’t even try. but ask me in a few wks, maybe i’ll be up to speed
  • MC – WS, yr work looks at the internet as more of a tool. but this idea that tech’y isn’t about utopia, its just a community that’s kind of hilarious. what about yr animated gif; that’s kind of utopian, no?
  • MBS – there’s something about trying to portray the sublime, employing rhetoric to do so.
  • MC – there’s an aspect of the sublime, but also an aspect of absurdity. the absurd int he art world is usually in response ot hte tragic. wolfgang?
  • LC – i think early net art was concerned w the novelty of hte medium itself, but ppl complained that the work wasn’t expressive in the way art should be.

Marisa: you seem to be interested int he rehersal of identity in yr work. i was thinking about how artists use things like blogs, flickr, and delicious. can you speak about why you use blogs in particular?

  • MO – i love blogs, i love them for a few different reasons. they’re so self-reflexive int hat there’re all these little points that say “hey, i’m an entry. here’s the date i was made. here’s teh time i was made”. i like to exploit that.
    I also think that blogs are a great place for “happenings”, to revive an old word. time-based performacnes that’re
  • CJ – could someone go to jodi.org? in 1998, when you got all these pop-ups, ppl would freak out. in 2006 i still love this piece, but i love it for a different reason. its become a certain irritating part of hte internet. its gone from a piece about techn’l anxiety to a piece about advertising irritation.
  • MO – i’m really interested in genre convetnions, but in film, fashiopn, food, or anything we consume, i think th efact that conventions exist says a lot about our culture. i think in blogging, that’s really apt.

in any genre, there’re rules that tend to determine what the form will be as well as what the conten twill be, and they tend to define how things will be consumed. that’s true for italian vs japanese food, 1940s suits vs 1990s suits, etc. now we start to understand teh genre conventions even more now than we do in 1998.

  • LC – i’m looking at jodi and its making me think about audience and internet art. i spoke recently an dd i showed jodi and it crashed my browser and it was humiiliaiting. but now its characteristic of

i know you all showed net art tongiht, but i know you all have gallery spaces. can you talk about that?

  • MBS – onew thing that’s nice about hte internet tis that it is this space where you can put thins online w/o consequnec, its a little bit of a safer speace in that you can put things out there. i use the internet as kind of a sketch pad; i’ll put o=up something i didn in and afternoon and then i’ll get a response and start to really work on it.

i thinkk there’s this kind of freedom there that ppl are exploring. dealing w gallereis, in terms of appropriation an int erms of internet outsider ar, thta tget as a lot weirded bc there’s no context. ppl in a gallery won’t really know what’s going on in erms o dfhte internet.

  • CA – its a really difficult process to decide what pieces will work in the gallery. totally different audience. in my gallery practice, i do try to deal with the Sublime. i’ve made a lot of mistakes putting the internet space in the gallery
  • MC – i have a lot of expirience at putting internet art in galleries. i used to curate a “media lounge” in liverpool, a working-class town. FACT, the place where the lounge was, was portayed as The Wave of the Future, the rehabilitation of hte town.

The first exhibit was a artists take on file sharing, but the locals didn’t get it.

There’s a notion of hierarchy where the artists’s in a privlidged position. __ said “being an artist is like being a little kid. you can put yr hand anywhere, but its always in sort of a play-space”

games are trancendental. don’t say “just a game” disparagingly.

internet in the gallery is the Theatre of the INternet, its not just the internet. don’t forget that.

  • MBS – there’s an authority there: “now that the work is in a gallery, ppl will see it”. that no longer needs to be done to grant authority to internet art. can i ask you a question; do you think that bc you no longer __?
  • MC – i def think that curating and showing stuff at FACT wasn’t about our Word Of God bestowing the status of Art on these works. Arguing that ‘internet art is already accessbile’ isn’t necessarily true; its accessbile to a differnt audiecne. its important to thav ehtose institiutional cvoices and interfaces.
  • WS – its totally essential to maintain control of how yr art is presented. perceptions change w different modes of perception. all this activist art is fantastic
  • LC – this panel feels like field research for me; rhizome’s purpose is to investigate how we can use the internet in new ways, an done of my interests is “how does the internet exist offline?” and tactical media is a part of that.

Audience Questions

  • Q – to what degree is internet art informed byt hte fact that the artist doesn’t necessarily know who the audience is?
  • MO – even now, i get doxens of emails from 16 yr old girls who want to go on american idol. its really exciting to me to make work that ppl have an emotional response to. it doesn’t matter if those ppl are art buyers or teenyboppers.
  • CA – i love WS’s point that “i put some things ong the net that i loved, but i put them online, and no one cared”. but there’s this chapel of a gallery, and you put something in teh gallery and ppl are all “oh wow, i get you”.
  • Q – my two favorite internet art pieces in the last yr were postsecret and Weresorry.com
    do you think that collaborative mass art is possible?
  • WS – i was involved; i think it was in 1999 that etoy was sued by etoys.com; the toy company sued the art group even though the art group was there first. etoy put a game online with a miliary hierarchy that mobilized 1000s of ppl in the net art community to flood the mailboxes of the judge who issued the injunction
  • LC – that’s a really good conversation, bc that brings up “what constitutes ‘art on line’. Blackpeopleloveus.com is a good example.
  • Q – you’ve used the word “sublime”, but the title of this show is “aesthetics” and i don’t think i’ve heard you use the word “beauty” once. I don’t think art has to have beauty, but i find it odd that we havne’t mentioned it.
  • MS – beauty int he mainstream art world tends to be lowbrow; everything is so conceptual right now that anything beautiful is seen as corrupt. maybe the internet is a space wwhere beauty is safe.
  • MBS – the firsrt video i showed i tried to make really beautiful
  • MC – i think a lot of artists are reconsidering beauty right now, bc its been debunked for so long. i think one of the problems w beauty an teh internet is that its been immediately co-opted by commercial interest. the politics of beuaty on the internet are different
  • CJ – or maybe we’ve acceped “beauty is int he eye of hte beholder” and we don’t talk aobut it anymore.
  • CA – i haven’t made the Kurt Cobain thing public yet bc i don’t think it looks good.
  • Q – Can we google “sublime”?
  • Q – [old greyhair lady] we should be sitting here w/ computers. yr showing us projected art. where’s the audience?
  • LC – i’ll answer that, but i’m going to repeat myself. “2.0” is a little bit of a joke bc there’s no clear break w the next pahse. but ‘internet’ being a part of everday life has scattered what it means

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