In mid-January, a Facebook friend liked a status update, causing it to pop up in my News Feed; I've been avidly following its thread ever since. Now at 675 comments and counting, this rich exchange encapsulates the increasing importance of the art-related discourse that takes place on Facebook, and its precarity.
Los Angeles-based artist, writer, curator, and educator Micol Hebron initiated this conversation with a simple request:
Facebookers, what do you think of this: artist Joe Scanlan, an older white male artist, invented a fictional artist, Donelle Woolford, who is female, black, and seems a bit younger than he is. Scanlan hires actresses to 'play' Donelle for pictures and interviews, and he makes the artwork that she 'makes'. He began this project about 13 years ago. Donelle Woolford is in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Here is an interview with Scanlan by Jeremy Sigler. Is this racism? Conceptual performance? Critical discourse on artworld hierarchies? Problematic exploitation? Discuss.
Critics, artists, former students, and, often, Scanlan himself responded, generating a thorough critique of the artist's practice, meaningful discussion about race and gender in contemporary art today, and a crowdsourced bibliography. Strikingly, its ebb and flow mimicked the public dialogue around Scanlan/Woolford in the art press—from curiosity (many had no idea of the project at the outset) to confrontation (stoked anew in May by The Yams' public withdrawal from the Biennial in protest), all in a slow burn. The texture and depth of this response evidenced Facebook's specific ability (for better and worse) to produce engaged networks and make visible their interactions.
The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have developed a significant body of work engaged (in its process, or in the issues it raises) with technology. See the full list of Artist Profiles here.
Edward Shenk on The Jogging, 2014
ZK: Let's start with your Theorist works, widely known for their circulation on The Jogging, and, from there, their secondary, unintended circulation on actual far-right and conspiracy theory-oriented Facebook and Tumblr channels. These image macros take up typical conspiracy theory grist (i.e. Chemtrails, Obama, Osama, etc.) but confound conventional interpretation via intermix of language and image. The circulation has been widely commented on; once picked up by a fringe Facebook group, the photos erode these groups' message-making ability. Their composition not as much. As someone long interested in conspiracy theories, their verisimilitude is what first interested me. So, I wanted to get into your methods—how are these composed and what are your research touchstones?
EMS: I became fascinated by these image macros in the summer of 2013 when I'd see the occasional one pop up in my Facebook news feed. Besides content I was also hooked by just the sheer number of them. The people who would post and share them would do so ad nauseam, and it was never just one conspiracy. I began following the same FB pages as they were and saving the jpegs to a folder on my PC that now contains over a thousand macros.
Image of äda 'web page produced for the exhibition "Screen," 1996.
In 1996, curator, critic, and educator Joshua Decter colorfully defined "media cultures" as "a euphemism for how we reproduce ourselves, as a society, into a spectacular—i.e., ocular and aural—organism whose viscera has become technology itself."
Throughout his career, Decter has paid special attention to media cultures and their relationship with the public sphere, developing a curatorial practice that has long been distinguished by its openness to adjacent new media and net art practices. Beyond spectacle, his use of websites, apps, and other technological apparatuses sheds fresh light on artists and artworks generally considered to be decidedly analog.
I invited Decter to walk me through three curatorial projects, all ambitious group shows, that exemplify his career in digital and AFK spaces. In each, the artwork is mediated—either by conceit, didactic, or display—so as to variously diffuse and emphasize the image, addressing the nature of art and its publics under the condition of networked technologies.
General admission tickets to the 5th Anniversary edition of Rhizome's Seven on Seven program, returning to the New Museum on May 3, are sold out. Missed your chance to buy tickets? Live somewhere other than New York City? Worry not—you can still join this celebration of art and tech. Details after the break.
A telethon. All day. All night. We are doing this. Will you donate to support?
11am-11am EST, March 19-20. 24 hours. Wow. That's a lot of hours. But we are going to fill those hours with some of the internet's best, on view via the front page of rhizome.org.
After the break, we've included a schedule to get you pumped. If you're in NYC tomorrow, stop by Lu Magnus, our host at 55 Hester. If you're anywhere else, join the hangout for some screen time. And, for real, D O N A T E.
See and learn about Eric's art: http://www.edymond.com/artseen/index.html
The obituary that recently ran at the Star newspaper: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=176058267
United States of America
(full-time w/ benefits)
Deadline: Friday, October 16, at 10am EST
Send a cover letter and resume to: email@example.com
On the eve of its 20th anniversary, Rhizome seeks a highly capable, communicative, and organized internet native to support its artistic programs and administration. The Program Coordinator will help launch the new rhizome.org, produce public events, handle office tasks, and accrue community buy-in and financial support for Rhizome's work.
As an institution with a small staff, this role will be multifaceted and challenging day-to-day, but quite rewarding to someone wishing to grow as an art professional, particularly in Rhizome's specialist space.
About Us: Rhizome is a non-profit born-digital art institution supporting contemporary art that creates richer and more critical digital cultures. Online since 1996, and an affiliate in residence at the New Museum in NYC since 2003, our offices are based in New Inc., the first museum-led incubator, initiated by the New Museum.
About the Role: This early-career position supports Rhizome's artistic programs and institutional development, via engaged, proactive program coordination (from external affairs to event production) and thorough and detail-oriented administration (from record-keeping to development support).
Like all Rhizome staff, the Program Coordinator will be expected to feed into Rhizome’s overall institutional knowledge of internet culture, technology, and contemporary art, and be a visible presence for the organization at events and openings in NYC.
DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
Artistic Program Support
• Event Production: administrative duties and project management, including booking venues, travel and accommodation, hospitality, liaising with technicians, and more.
• External Affairs: Management of social media, composing press releases, liaising with press about Rhizome initiatives, and maintaining press list
• Attending public events on behalf of Rhizome, reporting back on emerging practices and new developments within its communities, and feeding into Rhizome’s programs overall
• Managing administrative systems: processing and tracking invoices; maintaining/improving filing; minuting meetings; enabling good communication
• Communications: overseeing Rhizome email campaigns and mailing lists
• Development support for Rhizome's membership drives and fundraising efforts: managing community campaign, tracking, compiling and collating information to feed into fundraising reports and activities, composing and sending thank you letters and other correspondence
• Managing individual membership and organizational subscriptions (universities/colleges), including the driving of new members/subscribers to meet targets
• Managing Rhizome's Fellows and Interns
• Broad knowledge of Rhizome’s work and its context in New York City and online/internationally
• Meticulous attention to detail and organization
• Confident coordinator and project manager – works well to anticipate needs and problems, find solutions, pull together and organize information, and prioritize
• Clear and effective written and verbal communication
• Works well independently yet remains accessible, friendly, and responsive to direction from Executive Director and other staff
• An exceptional problem solver; calm under pressure with a positive attitude
• Efficient and motivated to complete work
• Decent level of technical aptitude, and ability to learn new systems quick
• Strong existing networks within Rhizome’s communities, in particular among emerging/mid-career artists or technologists in New York
• A developed online presence and deep engagement with the web
• A demonstrated interest in and specialist knowledge of internet culture, to contribute to Rhizome’s overall internal knowledge and staff culture
Questions and complete applications (resume/cover letter) can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, October 16, at 10am.
Cole's original FB post: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10153087620542199&id=200401352198
Tumblr version of NY Mag story that Cole had linked to (at the time, the NY Mag website had been taken offline by a distributed denial-of-service attack): http://nymag.tumblr.com/post/125179609945/im-no-longer-afraid-35-women-tell-their
TNI repost: http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/dtake/improving-on-silence/
From Cole's intro: "I should say that this note was first written for my Facebook page, on July 27 2015, and I think it will retain some of the tone of that context: discursive, reactive, and addressed directly to my followers. But my editor at the New Inquiry thought I should share it here, with a broader audience, and I agree."
Perhaps the piece will circulate more widely on TNI; it will circulate differently, for sure. I'm still not sure what "independent" means, but on one count—the writing standing alone rather than within the feed with prominent attachment—its "independence" on TNI is perhaps detrimental in that it competes with the NY Mag story. (Cole acknowledges this in his intro.) The comments on the original post (ranging from simple thank yous, to lengthy responses, to, as across the web, gross parsing) are immediate and interesting, and they won't run on TNI.
In any event, it's a piece of what I think is meaningful, critical writing instigated by Facebook, with a tone and position resulting from the social media giant's culture, and the publics it can gather.