Dazed's ultimate guide to US creativity
As part of our new summer US project States of Independence we've invited our favourite 30 American curators, magazines, creatives and institutions to takeover Dazed for a day.
Today, it's the turn of Rhizome, the New York-based website-cum-platform that has celebrated, created and discussed fine art at its intersect with technology since before most of us had dialup. Started as an email list in 1996, its now a commissioning body, a community and a magazine hosting events from the global technologist x artist series Seven On Seven to e-cigs creativity. For their day, they've showcased a pair of rad downtown artists and discussed conspiracy theories. Here, Michael Connor, their editor, tells us the major motors in US net art now.
Dark, misanthropic, and beautiful, Bunny's poetry comes from a different dimension than the rest of the alt lit scene. Like a Jean Genet of the internet age, her poetry should be read as if "completely obvious, like when a Parisian taxi driver invents a slang metaphor on the spot." Her new book, Cunny Poem Vol. 1, began life as a Tumblr and is now a beautiful limited edition book.
Five years ago, Kevin Bewersdorf (then an internet artist of some note) took down all his websites and published in their place a single, flickering image of a flame. His experiment in refusing to be a net artist has been hotly debated; some see it as an interesting gesture of radical refusal; others as a cynical act of dropping out. Regardless, he's back, and with his new website ritual.technology he's offers a series of animations and texts that relate to spirituality and the internet. It's interesting that after five years of trying to separate himself from the internet, he finally concluded it was impossible, and is now working in that space again. As Kev told me, he realized that "you can't delete your self, but you can transform your self."
Broadening beyond social media
A few years ago, artists were more excited about the use of Facebook and Tumblr and other social media platforms for sharing and talking about their work. This marked a big change for Rhizome, actually, which had previously been a kind of proto-social media website for artists. With the rise of corporate social media, Rhizome came to feel too public, too limiting, maybe too professional. Today, people are starting to get sick of metrics, of the shitty political economy of websites run by multi-billion dollar corporations, and of the endless scroll. I think we may be entering an interesting new period for the emergence of new kinds of online communities around art.
As a culture, I think we need new kinds of images of the internet to help us think about it in richer and more complicated ways. Right now it's like Voldemort, that which must not be pictured (except as those weird cloud visualizations). Aleksandra Domanovic's recent artwork "From yu to me," which revolved around the history of the .yu domain name, had us excited about art that takes the internet and its workings – the hardware and the labor and the laws and everything that goes into it – as subject matter.
Two things about this: first, all early digital art was output to some more stable format; it was never viewed solely on a screen. Digital art should be allowed to move freely between the screen and the page and the canvas and the coffee mug and the baseball cap. Second, what is paint, really? Why can't we consider inkjet fluid to be a kind of paint? So I guess I'm not really interested in "digital painting" so much as the fact that painting as a category can now include digital work by people like Michael Manning and Los Angeles. Earlier this year I organized an exhibition around the work of Jeremy Blake at Honor Fraser in Los Angeles, which touched on this concept.
The Airbnb pavilion
The so-called "sharing" economy has been a subject of much discussion at Rhizome. While there are interesting ways that the internet can actually be used for sharing, many of the corporations that have taken up this banner are actually just offering us new ways to sell parts of our lives that were previously not for sale, like our restaurant reservation or our spare bedroom. The Airbnb Pavilion at the Venice – an unaffiliated venture which presented works by artists and architects in rented apartments in Venice – very aptly responded to the way in which such services are reshaping our domestic spaces, our cities, our world.
There have been some great games recently that try to incorporate more enlightened identity politics into gameplay itself, with fantastic results. If I made that sound dry, just stop what you're doing, and take two minutes to go play:
Read more from the State of Art