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Hyperjunk: Observations on the Proliferation of Online Galleries »
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Bookmarked for later! This topic is relevant to my interesttttssssssss.
Excellent questions, Nicholas, I'm glad that you wrote this. I have too much work to do to deliver a small rant, so hopefully when I have time, I'll express myself in a more measured fashion.
You should make your rant public (NNA list?) and start a sissy fight! I haven't read it yet, but I'm gettin' to it tomorrow.
NNA is far from public. (but I have been thinking about this subject all day.)
My point was that I wanted to be able to read any sissy fighting that might be happening.
Maybe I should just click +1 but feel like actually writing sth: very good questions you're asking there, in the last paragraph.
In the past five years, I've observed many art dealers, around here anyway, re-branding their galleries as "Project" venues. The more high enders removing the word Gallery from their letterhead, as if it defined a charming anachronism. Though I still believe that the exchange of money for art is not frowned upon in those circles, it points to a desire to ride the currents of contemporary practice by selling the previously unsellable. (b/t/w I'm fine with that) Of course, public gallery (institutions) aren't so worried about that.

That said, mimicking that gallery model on-line brings up a few questions, as you have pointed out in your essay.

I'm inclined to agree with your assertions in the first paragraph. The overlap of artists that are presented in these on-line contexts can mirror the homogenous collections of large public galleries all over the world. The directors have a shopping list of blue-chip 20th and 21st century artists that they feel will lend their institutions and their own careers credibility, (unfortunately that attitude lends itself to the acquisition of a lot of mediocre works because the artist is deemed to be important, but we don't have a budget for a really good piece)

The one thing that I will disagree with is your statement that "The amount of overlap between the artists shown in these online venues is telling to the overall quality of work being made and distributed online". I'd say it's telling to the quality of curation. (So I think you contradicted yourself when you mentioned "the availability of so many creative, insightful, and challenging works being made within/around network culture") But you are right in pointing out that the overlap of artists is a result of previous on-line exposure, but how can it not be? The small circle of people who post on high traffic art sites do have their own prejudices of taste, personal connections, political agendas etc. That's only human, but those conditions feed and perpetuate the problems that you point out.

I think that it's interesting to investigate the intentions of organizers and curators, I'm less convinced that they have responsibilities -- unless they are making claims to new paradigms for distribution of art.

(just reading Andrew's comment, I agree with his take, but I also think there is more to explore with this, and I will continue to blither later)
OK, re-reading Andrew's comment I'd have to say that there is more of a difference, curated on-line projects have the potential to expand net art definitions, of course that potential isn't always met in an on-line site . An artist I know rightfully asked if net art culture needs a "gallery" that mimics the class illusions, relentless good taste, gender imbalance and the enclosing envelope of branding that exists in any high-end art dealership.

The other comment Andrew makes about focus is a good one, I'd add that I like curation over all. As an art viewer I want to see interesting new relationships between art works and be surprised & challenged. That's not to say that I demand endless novelty, my favourite exhibition projects generally position old and current work together creating a new proposition or narrative about all the work, not to be confused with a survey show. (a previous Nicholas post gave me that term narrative, and I like it) My least favourite projects simply serve to position curatorial and artistic stature.
thanks for this nicholas - was a really good read today while i was at work. also reminded me i need to read more.
Thanks Nicholas - really good read. And good responses. One small quibble with Lorna. I do think that online curators & institutions have responsibilities. Or at least, accountability. These kinds of spaces function as history nodes - once stuff starts getting collected up and organised, documented and archived, its part of the way that people in the future will remember the net art of now. If you are engaged in historicizing practices then you are responsible for your choices about what you include and exclude, whether you acknowledge that responsibility or not.
Not such a small quibble, especially since you are dead right about that reason for accountability, Sally. (and thinking about it further, your point opens up whole new vistas for ranting. Win win.)
good survey of gallerist opinions, real exhausted today and skimmed, but yeah, the "implied marginality" is a double-edged sword. what a strange line to tred when/if i call myself a "net artist" as the normal person won't know what that means... not to mention a large part of media arts administration hasnt come to terms with that term either
i don't see self-started online galleries as antithetical to RL ones as much as well-intended for offering alternative spaces, and then eventually become mini-canons. a strange but inevitable cycle of reification if the space isn't temporary, i guess
I tend to agree with Sally, thought I think people that make these curatorial decisions are quite conscious of these historicizing practices. But what's the added value in a few years time? Who will look up these websites, the art historian or the cultural anthropologist? If the latter will be the case then the archiving practice is a reasonable endeavor. Not sure how it might help the art historian though, because most of the works I've seen rely heavily on their initial context in which they were produced, as such an online gallery space might appear as an artificial one that tries to create a new context for the works on display (that also happens in RL galleries of course, but the void of the physical white cube is often filled with discussions and offers the possibility to exchange ideas in real time). That's why I tend to think that this has a bubble effect, because on the one hand it tries to archive the momentum, encapsulating it under a curatorial project or a gallery brand, while on the other it cuts the work from its place of origin and disseminates it as an end product.

I'm also not sure about Kim Asendorf's remark that "Net Art legitimizes online galleries", this comes in stark contradiction with the works that rely on contamination, communication nodes and the infiltration within networks. These projects usually work within that specific context, the only way you can archive that is by documenting the endeavor, and that is net art at its best imo. Sure we now tend to have a more aesthetically driven view of how net art should look like, the virtuosity or the lack of it by which you can design an image, the file formats etc. but that still happens by contamination within the relational Net structure. I actually don't think that by obscuring the process (the documentation for an art work & the communication routes) you'll still end up with Net Art.

BTW, I really appreciate the projects mentioned in your article, but at the same time i cannot help wondering why we have to rely on the gallery model for works that should be fluid or in a state of constant flux.

Great topic, glad you wrote about this issue Nicholas.
In part response to Matei's final paragraph, I think, or at least hope, that a lot of these sites rely on the gallery model as default template by way of the early stage of their development. They can only begin to highlight what is different by deviating from that which is the same. That said, I think the important thing here is that we recognise that they are at the beginning of a process and I think how that process evolves is down to the artist. Little by little I am sure they will evolve into something much more "hyper-textual" - I leave that term hanging and purposefully vague - or at least have the option to should the project demand.

Anyway, thank you Nicholas, great article.
Some projects are more evolved than others.

b/t/w this is my new favourite for net art & commerce, a curated project by +Emilie Gervais and +Lucy Chinen

+jeffrey baij and +Michael Manning are currently listing:

Ford Tauras : 2012

8 Stars8 International Star Registry Certificates1 Holographic Certificate of Authenticity
Dimensions Variable
Jeff Baij/Michael Manning
$1,239.60 Purchaser will receive certificates for all 8 stars within the "Ford Tauras : 2012" constellation issued by The International Star Registry as well as a unique print by Baij and Manning commemorating the constellation.

more about the overall project- and embodies institutional structures of the internet in the art - IRL we'd call that site specific, or institutional critique -- like Hans Haacke's condensation cube. I think lots of net art types are partial to this kind of conceptual self-referentiality. It's restless and transparent and reveals something itchy and scratchy about social engagements. Like Matei's artworks that "rely on contamination, communication nodes and the infiltration within networks," only here they are being curated commissioned and contained. That containment has pros (discourse enhancing accessibility and context to help viewers into intellectual engagement the work) and cons (hierarchies applied as artists and viewers are clearly differentiated).
...except, I'm not quite clear on what you mean by: "and cons (hierarchies applied as artists and viewers are clearly differentiated)."
I mean that in a curated online exhibition certain people are positioned as artists and the rest of us who browse the site are viewers, whereas in the miasmic Google+ community (for example) everyone is a participant. I think this is maybe part of what bugs Matei, pulling art out of the flow and isolating it and its makers. This doesn't bug me a whole lot (I think there's room for lots of modes) but it would if online culture developed in such a way that my peers and colleagues started to consider art in online galleries as more legitimate than in these other communal spaces.
We wanted to troll conceptual certificates and push the limits of an object based art project by using the most immaterial thing we could find.
But you also found the best immaterial thing.
WOW! Thanks so much everyone for commenting and responding the questions I hope are raised by my article. I want to stress the importance and gratitude that I have for the artists and organizers that responded to my inquiries, because if it wasn't for them, the article would've been meager at best. That being said, AMP has posted a very thoughtful response to my article, one that I haven't had time to respond to, but I want to support as much as I can since I think that the issues they raise are of great relevancy to topics discussed here:

Where do I being?! I think initially I want to take up what Sally notes early on regarding responsibility/accountability. I think this is where my question of legitimizing comes into play, and where I take critical issue with the amount of overlap of artists between projects. I see a great deal of amazing works that are JUST NOW getting proper recognition (+Paul Flannery among those makers I might add). I think that the delay in this process of highlight the most exciting work online - in terms of content and aesthetic - comes from the now all too familiarity of the ways in which web2.0 - or now post-internet(?) - artists have moved on from the web into more traditional gallery contexts (or at least are flirting with these ideas). This being said, however, it's not really why I wanted to make these criticism. Instead it's more in line with what Sally stipulates as an ingrained acknowledgement that something is in fact "going on" in the art world as we speak, and that things are, in fact, changing as result of the types of work that are circulating through network communication and specifically through social networking. The quick and loose tendencies of these networks itself has radically reframed the way that we gauge and value artworks online and off (speaking to Andrews equalizing of sketches and long term projects). There are obviously positive and negative results of this new valuation, but the change is there nonetheless, and the challenge that this change poses to the traditional standard is undeniable. As a result, I am hard pressed NOT to ascribe some accountability to net based galleries, as I think that are changing and responding the standards that have been imposed upon contemporary art thus far (whether unconscious or not).

I don't necessarily want these spaces to quote some manifesto every time they send out a press release (or even need to be political in any overt way) (although that would be interesting too), but I do NEED to see that the efforts of these spaces and others to be in recognition of their spaces effecting the face of contemporary art, given that so much attention has already been paid to them in such a short amount of time. My hope is that these spaces will sense their own gravity in this shaping process (a process that I think many people in this thread are also actively contributing to), and that this recognition will give them an agency to dynamically and radically take the reins of this moment to truly seek out work that otherwise would never would be shown given physical limitations (if such a thing is possible anymore).

Third (kinda, more like a continued 2nd):
In consideration to Matei's comment, I couldn't agree more with the difficulty that these projects pose to future generations of scholars and artists. This is going to be the serious issue of our medium, and one that champions of archiving this work (like Matei, +olia lialina, and +Ben Fino-Radin) are diligently working on, and one that I think deserves much more attention then it does ATM. The impact of this generation of net artists is going to profoundly affect the future articulations of contemporary art by the mere fact that the challenges that these sites pose against (or at least in some dialog with) the status quo of art exhibition is already being played out in some significant ways.

As AMP suggests in their response, the thing that I'm really underselling (and something that I should rightfully be criticized for) is the value of these shows existing as curatorial projects. Although I think that AMP does this most interestingly by inviting curators that work both online and off, the gathering of works together that happens on other sites is also something that I think can elevate or push through what I see as redundancy. I'm cautious of curators getting too clever with themed ideas for their sites (although i think the candor of something like FA-G's "Friends" Show was interesting), but a critical dialog about the selection of works and the need to emphasize these specific artists over others that work either with close or identical issues is something that continues to be needed within this "genre." For what it's worth, I know that Bubblebyte IS working in that direction, as they develop as Paul mentions, and I also know that +Kim Asendorf has big plans for the net art world soon :)

<whew>for now</whew>
interesting read at all.

but how about the internet? how about progress?
why dealing with issues that are irrelevant in the near future?
everything on the net evolves all the time, or it dies.

do you believe in the future of the binary system?
net art is bound to the internet, and it's current state.
soon we need a html emulator to view our 'net art'.

though all online 'galleries', and yes, it's called gallery because that word describes best what it is, are just in the very first step. ('project' doesn't have a certain meaning..)
and like RL galleries they either can't reflect some kind of site-specific works. but that is ok, and makes those works just more special.

currently there may be a few collectors interested in net art, but does it really have an 'art market' value without re-sales? don't get me wrong, i believe in the future of the digital art market, but first we need a secure way to achieve exclusive ownership of files. so far it's just a passion. owning art hosted by rapidshare.

+Matei Samihaian not just net art legitimize online galleries, the internet does!
the cultural value of net art legitimize those galleries.

what's the difference between a blog and an online gallery?
website is website.

pre matrix no website could beat a physical room.

and, and therefor, OGs are a good way to organize and group of artists for RL performances.
OGs are treated as galleries, that is something! maybe the most important thing atm!!!
progress? evolve or die - The internet as Social Darwinian space. eugh.
I'd like to point out that this debate is nothing new -- and has a history that goes back further than just a year. NYC art insiders might finally be paying attention to online art galleries and the potential for online art sales -- but the history of it goes back more than a decade. Trust me, most of these writers did not care until big names started exploring the potential of the Internet. Those new to it like to think they were the first on the train. Perfect example... those who call VIP Art Fair the first online art fair. It may very well be the first online art fair involving major galleries / artists -- but it is not the first online art fair in general. I also find it interesting that some of the biggest supporters of this addition to the traditional market today happen to be some of the same people who scoffed at it years ago. It is both amusing and sad to observe.
Brian: I hope my article doesn't propose that these spaces think of themselves a the first of their kind, or even that they are doing something particularly new. However, due to the large influx of projects and galleries such as these required some critical reflection (partially due to exactly what you have stipulated). Certainly we can look at things like the Turbulence Commissions, and the Whitney's Art Port as examples of institutional support for netart, or even projects initiated by earlier net artists like +Rick Silva that have used the web as curatorial platforms to exhibit online works. BUT the growing amount of attention paid to artists, bloggers, net-curators, and online galleries has seen a large increase in the past year. When I solicited responses from these spaces, one of my main questions was what projects inspired their work, and many cited recent historical examples of the projects that you are probably alluding to. This being said, I feel that these projects are different in that they are now starting to represent and showcase makers that not only represent a community of artist working through network technology, but also are considered at some kind of forefront of contemporary/emerging art. The synthesis then between the online gallery world, and that gallery world of emerging artists has more overlap then I think previously has been noted and/or observed. The importance, however, is that a considerable amount of these projects are not aiming to directly influence so-called NYC insiders, but instead represent a decentralized network of creative individuals working around or beyond the traditional system of establish gallery representation in a cultural hub. I specifically chose not to discuss the VIP art fair, since their motivation is so clearly to graft the traditional buying and selling of established makers onto the web, as opposed to showcasing the work of net-based practitioners that otherwise wouldn't (or couldn't) be shown in the normative gallery market (due to their problematic salability).
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