Session Notes: Art Writing On The Web (or “DH is just net art from 1995!”)

Becky Huff Hunter introduced the session with some questions: What are some examples of alternative/experimental forms of art writing on the web? Have attendees been involved in web-based writing? What’s the impact of new forms of writing on artistic, curatorial, and scholarly practice?

Charlotte Frost gave us a sneak peek into her forthcoming book—a history of web-based art writing that includes websites, bulletins, mailing lists, blogs, and social media—with the following examples (in chronological order from sometime in the ’90s to the present:

  • Artswire—based on The Well, Judy Malloy
  • Artcom—Carl Loeffler, curatorial and publishing, related to La Mamelle artspace
  • The Thing—PBS-based, Wolfgang Staehle, NY based, moved into mailing list framework, Rhizome recently worked to recreate this and what it would have looked like back in the day
  • Rhizome, started life as Rhizome Raw, a mailing list-based discussion forum—Michael Connor is working to get this online
  • Furtherfield, Net Behavior, DIWO (Do It With Others)
  • ArtFCity, We Make Money Not Art
  • Heath Bunting, Marianne Breeze
  • – Heath Bunting, Marianne breeze, critical / creative crossovers
  • James Elkins, writes publicly and asks people to adapt his writing
  • Laurie Waxman, 60 words a minute in a gallery
  • Jerry Saltz’s Facebook page—comments section now the nexus for mailing-list type discussion of earlier moments

Dewitt Godfrey, CAA President Elect, commented that he wants to engage the ways in which artists and scholars work online, in order to better serve the CAA community. CAA has an online journal, but what else could be offered?

Hussein Keshani spoke about:
Archnet—designed to bring together Islamic world architects and scholars: threads where people discuss things like “how does one define Islamic architecture?”; visual database, image archive detached from text streams; scholarly articles, also disconnected from current text streams and image database; problem maintaining the quality of the conversation.

And my notes get a bit more rushed here as the conversation was really flowing…

Critical Practices Inc., Sol Ostrow—face to face think tank, publishing paper print, discussions forums at biennial

Willoughby Sharp—his Rolodex was like the Facebook of the art world

Media Arts. Curating. List
– networked discussion about the stuff in Charlotte’s book
– arts future book – how the humanities and theory will happen in the future – mailing list component to that project
– fraught success of the mailing lists, lots of archives mentioned that she hadn’t heard of
– Media art histories conference, people messaged her outside of the

– conversations – mailing list replaced with comments on Facebook pages of famous art historians / writers – no one person can own the space – list based intervention – how to have a productive conversation in those spaces – juggling all different information from different platforms, things coming off list but need to share it on list – personal emotions get woven into the list, example of friend passing away

– lists are by definition serial and sequential – not a discussion format
– “epistolary discussion”

– these are all different platforms with different affordances

– we have to re-educate ourselves about how to use different platforms

– why a book – Charlotte set up a project to play around with what an art knowledge object might be. This was for the authors involved in the project, so that they can have something published and peer reviewed. The book was for other people, not so important to Charlotte. She uses herself as a guinea pig.

– fine line in the sand is peer review – this doesn’t acknowledge the way in which peer review has changed
– blog = peer review after being published and the problem is that attention becomes an authority
– another form of peer review is comment press (WordPress add on) – you dump in an entire text then it gets broken up into posts which people can comment on. Public peer review – sometimes by invitation and then sometimes not – Katherine Fitzpatrick “planned obscelence”

– isobel streffer and siofar mcsheerry –
– problem – maintaining quality of the space – curated space vs interactivity
– problem of getting this accepted by their institutions, seeing online practice as a side project in order for it to go with tenure
– this mirrors the language of fine arts peer review tenure 30 years ago – vetting galleries, now we’ll be vetting websites, trying to understand the legitimacy of one thing over another – a peer review after evaluation

– structures
– Charlotte just fell into making a book, this is the structure of the academy
– we don’t have structures that are consistent enough or visible enough to fit

– triple canopy – corrected slogans, recorded the panels, then annotated them – memorialized into a book – triple canopy very enamoured with their own structure – what we are able to do on the web influenced

2004, live critical project with furtherfield  _ virtual artists residencies. – public could log in and akss the the artists questions – using a bespoke chat box – so fast, difficult to keep up – complete meltdown of whether we’d said anything of use or value – same with twitter chats now, storify now useful for grabbing editing creating something

– is there a different approach to using these online tools, or are we using them in the same way as anyone else?
– visual arts – images, projects where you want to connect the words to an image –  residency put together – artists/art historians not talking to each other – even meeting online, level playing field discussion forum

– Terra foundation residency in France – apply for this

– boundaries between disciplines – images are specific to the arts, experimentation is encouraged in the arts

– DH is “just Internet art from 1995”

2010 – Michael Mandlberg collaboratively wrote a book Collaborative Futures (on bookie) – eg, as artists we’re used to experimenting, tradition of being encouraged to break things and to work against the grain – the avant garde role or the irreverent role of the artist.

art is always self published – this is what practice is – many more art historians are know independent scholars – what shift in assumptions can CAA work with in order to help people – the art world / art history world is no longer stable, so how to participate – scholars  are now like artists – the rapidly expanding field of online discourse and the

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