What kind of subjectivity is produced when the museum adapts to the metabolism of the database? What role is left for institutional critique?  Hito Steyerl has interrogated the varying types of subjects produced by the past stages of institutional critique. In “The Institution of Critique” (2006) Steyerl offers a framework for the present museological predicament. For Steyerl, each wave of institutional critique was founded on different ideas about the public sphere. The first wave of institutional critique implicated a socio-political public sphere, and it primarily concerned the institution's entanglements with the nation-state. The second wave implicated identity politics and aspired to “integration into representation.” But the most recent wave of institutional critique is trapped by neoliberal models, where the logic emerges from a fully-commodified public sphere. Here the institution’s only recourse is to mount a protectionist defense, as it has already started to operate in the logical arena of the unbridled free market capitalism. A state of deep precarity results as there are decreasingly workable answers to why the enlightenment institutions should still hold weight in a public sphere defined by digital exchange.

source: http://eipcp.net/transversal/0106/steyerl/en/base_edit

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AuthorMike Pepi

 

Hito Steyerl asks what happened to the internet after it stopped being a possibility. She's also interested in what happens when the internet "starts to move offline." But the problem immediately arises that the "Internet" can't move offline. The internet is not a thing unto or outside of itself. Worse still, the internet is not a thing at all. It is all of our computers connected using TCP/IP.

To be fair, Steyerl is perhaps more specifically interested in the behaviors conditioned by digital networks as they begin to fall into what are perceived as "non-digital" arenas. Yet, almost throughout this is a breathless paean to internet utopianism, the unsupported claims of an internet centrist who posits the "Internet" as a discrete entity with cultural logic unto itself, as opposed to a distributed series of actors on a network. Its final claims for open access border on the absurd in an effort to advance an accelerated circulationism.

 

"But here is the ultimate consequence of the internet moving offline. If images can be shared and circulated, why can’t everything else be too? If data moves across screens, so can its material incarnations move across shop windows and other enclosures. If copyright can be dodged and called into question, why can’t private property? If one can share a restaurant dish JPEG on Facebook, why not the real meal? Why not apply fair use to space, parks, and swimming pools? Why only claim open access to JSTOR and not MIT—or any school, hospital, or university for that matter? Why shouldn’t data clouds discharge as storming supermarkets? Why not open-source water, energy, and Dom Pérignon champagne?

If circulationism is to mean anything, it has to move into the world of offline distribution, of 3D dissemination of resources, of music, land, and inspiration. Why not slowly withdraw from an undead internet to build a few others next to it?"

 

I’m no longer sure of who is actually wise, intelligent, or talented and who is simply well situated in a network of proliferated content. 

Horning is critical of viral content’s ability to change "the stakes of reading." “Having feelings is pointless if your performance of them is not as viral as the occasion that prompted them.” These viral items are really “trojan horses carrying a more significant piece of data: the proof of our social existence.” The Viral Self is a self that allows social media to unsettle our sense of an appropriate amount of attention. Therefore, engineering virality has moral implications. The pursuit of virality becomes hegemonic. 

 

"Think, for a moment, of the real estate broker in the age of Craigslist. In real estate, there are buyers and sellers. These two parties have, from the very beginning, needed a forum to meet each other. Given the high barrier to entry as well as the high price point of the transaction, a market developed in order to “broker” these transactions. These brokers took a fee, of course, since there was no way around them. Today, when you perform a direct search for owners listing their properties online (for free), you still find brokers listing their client’s properties on Craigslist. The clearest indicator of an industry in its death throes arrives at that moment where it is forced to utilize the tool of its own dispossession to stay alive. During this period, the worker can only hope that few notice its total disintermediation."

Source: http://www.thestraddler.com/201311/piece7....
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AuthorMike Pepi

 

Keith Varadi's ART SUGAR NET MAGIC  discusses the practice of so called Nu Guard artists. His jumping off point is the previously discussed 2011: art and transmission by Michael Sanchez. Distinct from the new media "New Guard" such as Auerbach, Guyton, and Arcangel, "Nu guard"..."concurrently embrac[es] and exploit[s] the consumerist culture of capitalist America with far less confusion or reticence than ever before." Varadi quotes Sanchez on desubjectivization: “without such delays, or lags, there can be no subject.” Sanchez points to Giorgio Agamben: “contemporary capitalism does not produce subjects so much as non-subjects, through what [Agamben] calls the ‘desubjectifying’ effects of apparatuses.” With no subject, there is little ground for an avant-garde. Hence Varadi's discussion of the "Nu Guard's" irreverence for the "different stains" of Morris Louis or Kenneth Noland. Perhaps "Nu Guard" overlaps with what one might call "Post-Internet" in that these artists earnestly leverage networks—etsy, tumblr, facebook—in places where the "rearguard" conceptualists merely gestured toward the dematerialization of the art object. "Nu Guard" knows that the digital image and its network is the material support, and the artist's ego is a brand.

 

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2/n...

One cannot keep Benjamin out of this. Groys reminds us that when we move the digital image from its original status of non-image to its status as visualized image, we engage in a "massive loss of aura" in the Benjaminian sense. This is because Benjamin maintained that nothing has more aura than the invisible. Groys explains that "in the world of digital images, we are only dealing with originals." Each visualization of the image file has its own story, perils, and site-specific contexts and abnormalities. This then leads to the near requirement that the curator bring it back into musealized space. When we exhibit these, we reverse the copying: it transforms a copy back into a performed original. And it is here, where, Groys says, we can contemplate both the superstructure that is at work on the image, but also its material base—the hardware/ software used to perform the image data.

 

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AuthorMike Pepi

2/n...

One of the most urgent topics Groys handles in Art Power (2008) is the aesthetics of digitalization. While once an escape from the museum, the digital image is now part of the museum system - a new confinement. Yet digital images are a new kind of "strong" image because they can be shown without institutional context, according to their own nature. The original data of the image are invisible. Therefore each time we see the image it is being "performed." Further "the digital image is a copy--but the event of its visualization is an original event, because" Groys states, "the digital copy is a copy that has no visible original." Here again, the curator rises to a point of great historical importance, for "the curator does not simply show an image that was originally there but not seen..." but in fact, going further, the curator "turns the invisible into the visible." Groys states that the digital image turns the curator "not into the exhibitor but the performer of the image."

 

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1/n...

Groys makes several excellent points in Art Power (2008). The first is that, contrary to the avant-garde’s proud history of museum bashing, the museum is a critical part of our conception of reality, and not, as we often think, the opposite of “real life.” The desire for artists to break out of its confines is actually a move that enters them into the global mass image market. This destroys the art subject and weakens the artist's historical position. Second, the museological tactics of art history do to the modern art object (i.e. the readymade, installation, art documentation) what Kierkegaard describes as the “difference beyond difference,” which is like the “non-difference” achieved between Christ and his appearance as a man.  More on this soon. 

 

 

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AuthorMike Pepi

3/n...

Chat Room's generally post-internet worldview awoke again when members tested O'Neill's definition of the now popularized verb "to curate," as now practiced by nearly anyone with a social media account. O'Neill's defense was to site this battle upon the "praxis" of the curator who, he said, must work with art or artists. This tautology struck the class as sort of hidebound to the decadent postcolonial biennial circuit of the 1990s and 2000s, or the late Manifestas, Documentas, and Performas. Boris Groys touches on this in his new book Going Public, "Today, there is no longer any 'ontological' difference between making art and displaying art. In the context of contemporary art, to make art is to show things as art. So the question arises: is it possible, and, if so, how is it possible to differentiate between the role of the artist and that of the curator when there is no difference between art's production and exhibition." O'Neill's book helpfully included Andrea Fraser's definition of the institution of art as a condition of its existence as such: "art is art when it exists for discourses and practices that recognize it as art..."

 

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AuthorMike Pepi

1/n...

Is the textual production of the curator in the catalogue essay or wall text tantamount to the voice of history or criticism? I refer to "pre-curatorial" critical discourse, when the artist's work, theory, and history were the main subjects, not the vision or execution of the curator as "globally-connected auteur." O'Neill's book  nicely charts the historical contingents of this notion of the "demystified" curator, one that arose in the late 1960s and then blossomed in the biennial fever of the 1990s. He identifies the post-Szeemann phenomenon of "curated by" exhibition-making and highlights the reign of curator-centered discourse. Seemingly stuck in a "curatorial moment" that has now passed, O'Neill's balanced text still does a great service by doing as much to challenge this notion as he does to historically re-construct it.

 

 

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AuthorMike Pepi

 

The theme of social media's impact on expression from and the exhibition of traditional forms of art will not rest, and it probably should not. Though terabytes have been spilled on this topic, I wanted to highlight a section of an exchange with Whitehot Magazine's Eleonora Charans and Venice Biennale Curator Massimiliano Gioni. The entire exchange is here

Charans: The scale question is interesting. What are your feelings about drawing today in the era of Instagram?
Gioni: I can simply add that the more images become intrusive and interchangeable, the more they suffocate us with their omnipresence, the more it is important to treasure images of a different intensity. I don't want to make that comparison suggest that drawings are good and Instagram is bad: in fact this exhibition relies on a polemical question raised in front of images and art works - on many levels it's a show that implies that there is no such a thing as art, but rather different forms of figurative expressions, different forms of visual cultures... 

Gioni's answer mirrors much of the discourse around the "backlash" against networked aesthetics and the networked subject -- that somehow a "re-inflation" of the image will arrive (see Jurgenson). It also reminds me how the tech discourse always inspires polemics, both inside and outside of the objects it directly controls.  

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I talk Kant, Anti-Kant, and Half-Kant over at the Brooklyn Rail

"Artschwager’s wit was wrapped up in his ability to play both sides of the Kantian coin. If we phrase the sculptures on view as after Artschwager, it helps to examine their individual relationships to the Kantian duality that he so skillfully evaded. The artists given pride of place alongside Artschwager here either reject Kant outright or play comfortably within his high formalism. None, like Artschwager, do both."

 

 Richard Artschwager, Table (Drop Leaf), 2008 formica on wood, 30 x 22 x 44 in 76.2 x 55.9 x 111.8 cm Image Courtesy of  David Nolan Gallery

Richard Artschwager, Table (Drop Leaf), 2008 formica on wood, 30 x 22 x 44 in 76.2 x 55.9 x 111.8 cm Image Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery

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AuthorMike Pepi

1/n... 

The construction of authenticity is shifting, says Rob Horning. What we used to express through consumerism is now related to the disparate yet self-defining digital data set we produce. This is the Data Self. The extent to which the formulation of the Data Self is mediated by algorithms lead Horning to declare dissolution of an a priori personal identity. Horning spoke of social media as a form of Althusserian interpellation, using the famous example of the policeman who hails to you in the street: “Hey, You There,” thereby positioning the subject in relation to the interests of the ruling class.

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AuthorMike Pepi

Information anxiety will be as hard to diagnose as it is to bring about. It happens to an individual when the data options available grossly outweigh the possible outputs of their analysis. A society encounters information anxiety when the method used to access data belies the method it traveled to get there. This relationship, however, is always in flux, as information changes root sources, and cultures revolutionize the manner in which they create and record data. Thus, soon this gap will close and information anxiety is resolved.

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AuthorMike Pepi
Categories100 words

Why put artists in a class based on their relations as producers? It is only recently that artists produced work in a field with a robust and open market for it. Artist’s classlessness has its intellectual birth after Modernism. The debate over artists’ class only arises after the appearance of the market for living artists and the concomitant challenges to the academy’s ability to temper taste and production. Unless we unpack this from the start, parts of Davis’ formulations regarding artists’ relations to activist politics are the forced manifesto of a de-historicized worldview dominated by a concern for direct, effective action.

 

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AuthorMike Pepi

Pt. 3/n...towards and/or away from means of image distribution

 

Two things are interesting about reading Sanchez and Bishop together. Note how Bishop’s preference for mainstream ground-floor-gallery art clashes with Sanchez’s nuanced exploration and acceptance of alternative means of image distribution (Contemporary Art Daily, tumblr., etc..). Both are primarily concerned with reception theory, or art’s place in an attention economy. Referencing Bourriaud’s “disembodiment of the internet”, Bishop leaves us to view contemporary art production moving away from the dominant means of image distribution, which she allies with a refusal to “thematize” the "logic of our dominant social field." (Internet centrism, again). Sanchez argues that software produces a “different kind of image.”

 

 

 

 

 

part 2/n... "analog/digital" 

The duality of digital/analog is itself confused. It is more convenient shorthand than a sound category for what is being talked about. It is referring not to phenomena in themselves—culture, art, emotions—but the network of their distribution. While this is relevant and has implications, we should remember that fundamentally the Internet and cloud computing are just faster networks for exchange. It is very hard, then, to refer to “digitized life” as Bishop does, without conflating the change in network speed with something new about human nature. Constructing this false duality is just one of the manifestations of internet centrism.

 

 

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AuthorMike Pepi

Press releases are the lowest form of art writing. But they are also among the most difficult. Everyone else involved in written discourse has more leeway with their words. The press release author is in a desert of aesthetics, limited by expectations. Left only to deal with the objects, swaddled in the infant cloth of a self-interested dealer, or an overzealous curator. The critic that employs them is also momentarily transformed away from a critic to a reporter, with poetic license. Minor transgressions of Sikkema Jenkins might be viewed in this light. Don’t we have worse problems than bad press releases?

 

 

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AuthorMike Pepi
Categories100 words

“At first I was kind of mixed. When I was invited to be the closing show, I was like, “Do I really want to be the last show, or do I want to be the first show at the new museum?” Then I realized all of the incredible exhibitions that I had experienced at the Whitney and how it had changed my life. And the Breuer building is an incredible building, and I was absolutely thrilled they were able to make the whole building available for the exhibition. So I’m absolutely thrilled. It could not be in a more meaningful space.”

-Jeff Koons, New York Times

 

 

Source: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09...
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AuthorMike Pepi
Categories100 words