At Capricious Space
March 7–28, 2009
Art Fag City, ASDF, Club Internet,
The Highlights, Humble Arts Foundation,
I Heart Photograph, Loshadka, Netmares/Netdreams, Platform For Pedagogy, Private Circulation,
UbuWeb, VVORK, Why + Wherefore
An exhibition that invites innovative and independent online art initiatives to each come do a 4-hour residency inside the space of a gallery—attempting to explore how the distribution, production, analysis, and consumption of culture are rapidly evolving in an online context. In particular the exhibition aims to render the labor of these online practices transparent, providing “real life” access to these cultural producers, and overall inspiring public dialogue around their practices.
Organized by Laurel Ptak
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(between Bedford and Berry)
(from March 7–March 28 only):
And some additional evening hours for special events, see the official calendar for full details.
For press and other inquires, please contact
Karen Codd: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 7 March
VVORK will invite a male stripper to the gallery space whose task will be to perform a 4-hour slow strip while surfing the internet.
Renda Morton and Samuel Sherman, contributors to the website Ffffound, will assemble and go about ffffounding as usual, except in public, and for 4 hours straight.
Opening / Roundtable Discussion: Browser As Exhibition Space
Participants from the exhibition IN REAL LIFE including Art Fag City, Club Internet, Ffffound, The Highlights, Humble Arts Foundation, Platform For Pedagogy, Private Circulation, UbuWeb, Why + Wherefore, and others will collectively discuss the concept of browser as exhibition space. Moderated by Laurel Ptak. Reception to follow.
Sunday 8 March
Lance Wakeling will email the fifteenth installment of Private Circulation, featuring a project by artist Martijn Hendriks. There will be coffee and tea as well as a 4-hour slideshow and mix tape session.
All members of Club Internet will be invited to sit behind their computers, either at home or in the gallery, as Harm van den Dorpel announces the curatorial criteria for them to create a new work on the spot and participate in an opening party—all within 4 hours. The resulting show will remain online for one month at clubinternet.org.
Friday 13 March
Docent Tour of Art on the Internet
Performed by artist Tyler Coburn. Reception to follow.
Saturday 14 March
I Heart Photograph
In a performance that enacts a recent history of data compression and transmission techniques, I Heart Photograph will attempt to assemble the world’s largest archive of photographs transmitted via telefacsimile. The site’s viewers will be invited to send one photograph each by fax machine during the hours of 12–4pm EST on 3/14—temporarily replacing the digital means through which work is typically submited to the blog.
Of particular interest is the relationship between data transmission techniques and their resulting forms—the fax machine itself will be considered a collaborator in the creative process here, performing alterations to the photographic content, and essentially reauthoring its visual form. Every single photograph received will be catalouged, scanned, and immediately posted on iheartphotograph.com. Along with your photo, please include a cover letter with your name, email address, URL, and title of the work. Fax to: (+001) 718.384.1208.
The Highlights will perform variations on the theme of visual procrastination—including, but not limited to, building a house of cards.
Sunday 15 March
Why + Wherefore
Why + Wherefore will be "at home" while in residence, inviting artists and friends to drop by for a drink and to collaborate on mix tapes and other projects. Visiting cards encouraged.
Netmares/Netdreams will simulate the true environments and experiences behind their project, whatever form that might take.
Saturday 21 March
Platform For Pedagogy
Platform for Pedagogy will make themselves available to gallery visitors for casual conversation. Near the end of their residency they will deliver a formal two-part talk. The first will be an incomplete historical overview of public lectures in New York City; the second will attempt to locate an immaterial, networked subject in the phantom audience of the lecture hall.
Humble Arts Foundation
Amani Olu and Jon Feinstein will be replicating their daily process of running Humble Arts Foundation. This will include live editing, design, and curatorial practice for all of their online projects, as well as a steady dose of g-chatting.
Sunday 22 March
Danny Snelson will give a functional tutorial of online archiving. He, along with a few other members of UbuWeb's international network, will present digitization strategies in a variety of media for the benefit of would-be bootleggers and the technologically curious alike. Meanwhile, an artist-curated selection of sound and video from the archive will be enjoyed.
No one can be sure exactly what Loshadka will do for their 4 hours in the gallery.
Saturday 28 March
Art Fag City
James Turrell and Alice Aycock Face off on Google Maps! Which artist has the largest number of public sculptures? Art Fag City will pit artist James Turrell and Alice Aycock against one another, readers searching for works captured on Google Maps. At the end of the day a map locating the sculptures will be posted to the blog, as well as a Twitter word visualization of commentary during the competition. Wikipedia results for the two artists will also be updated. May the most archivable artist win!
(This project was inspired by a series of posts by Greg Allen on Richard Serra sculptures located on Google Maps).
With Mylinh Nguyen sitting in the gallery and David Horvitz chatting live from Golden Age in Chicago, ASDF will make available an ephemeral show of 48 artists existing for only 4 hours. Each art work will be available, one at a time, for only 5 minutes. The works will be sized to print and available for download (also including instructions so that viewers may print the works using basic consumer technologies). After the 4 hours are up all the original files will be deleted.
Art Fag City was founded in 2005 as an alternative voice in the art world, focusing on artists who both use and ignore the net. Paddy Johnson is a web critic and the blog’s founding editor. Over the past three years she has received quite a bit of attention from the mainstream press including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and has spoken at Yale University, Parsons, and Hunter College. She contributes to Frieze, ArtReview, and Time Out and writes a weekly column on art for The L Magazine.
ASDF is a website that hosts collaborative projects between Mylinh Nguyen and David Horvitz. Their projects, which always feature contemporary working artists, hold equal weight in both design and art (their respective backgrounds). Everything they do embraces the internet and the digital medium, and sometimes slips back into the real world.
ASDF’s recent “exhibition,” For A Brief Time Only At A Location Near You, contained 24 artists who each supplied a 4-by-6-inch digital image. These images were then offered as a set of photographic prints utilizing drug store photo labs’ abilities to print from uploaded media. Anyone who wanted to “see the show” would send ASDF an email. The files would then be uploaded to the viewer’s nearest drugstore, and within the hour it would be ready for pickup. Using the internet, a physical experience was generated locally for each viewer. A previous work, A Wikipedia Reader, documented 13 artists travels through Wikipedia, going from page to page via hyperlinks. The result is both a document of these movements, and a reflection of each artist’s conceptual concerns. This was printed as both a physical book and made available digitally. They have also offered one dollar grants to anyone with a creative idea and put a show on inside a P.O. box. Currently they are working on more “shows,” as well as A Soundtrack for the Arctic Ocean, which will feature musicians and sound-artists and be available, for free, only in digital form.
Capricious Space hosts the exhibition IN REAL LIFE. The gallery is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and its mission is to be a sanctuary away from the city's clamor and strife. A different place with a different feeling. Throughout the year Capricious Space invites artists and curators to transform the space according to their own visions and dreams, thus bringing the Capricious generation together.
Capricious Magazine is an international fine art photography publication for emerging artists that was founded in 2003 by Swedish photographer Sophie Mörner. Capricious Space opened in June 2008 and was initiated in order to provide a physical venue to artists working in a variety of mediums with a Capricious spirit. The space is managed by Karen Codd.
Club Internet is a project initiated by Harm van den Dorpel. Its very first show took place on May 8, 2008. The site provides an online exhibition space for artworks primarily created for the internet or artworks emerging from the context of the computer and internet art scene. Shows are created by isolating artworks from their original locations— such as weblogs or portfolio sites—and displaying them together in a dedicated browser frame as a curated selection. The navigation is kept as transparent as possible, manifesting itself as an extra toolbar: just hit 'next', or click the title for more information about a work. Showing the works as they are—without any representation like thumbnails—helps the viewer investigate the possible aura and presence of these virtual objects. Presenting online art in a fixed selection for a certain time (instead of an ever-changing blog for instance) stimulates people to appreciate existing pieces in a new and exclusive way.
Tyler Coburn is an artist and critic based in New York. Recent exhibitions include In Practice at SculptureCenter; Love is a Cannibal at Sloan Fine Art, curated by Bellwether owner Becky Smith; and Ghostwriters, a collaboration with artist and i-cabin director Sebastian Craig, at Jack the Pelican Presents. Tyler has upcoming performances and exhibitions at Circus Gallery, Renwick Gallery, Thrust Projects and Cleopatra's. As part of the exhibition IN REAL LIFE, Tyler has been commissioned to perform a “museum-style docent tour of art on the internet.”
Ffffound is a collaborative image bookmarking site that allows its members to post and share the images they collect as they traverse the web.
Renda Morton has been contributing to Ffffound since November 2, 2007. She has currently ffffound more than 888 images and the first thing she ever posted to the site was a picture of the book Daughter of Art History designed by her studiomate Andrew—he was sitting right next to her when she joned Ffffound. Renda is a partner at Rumors, a multi-disciplinary design studio. Before starting her own studio she worked at LUST in The Hague, Netherlands and freelanced in New York at Flat, Honest, Project Projects, and Local Projects. Renda has a BFA in Interactive Media from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and currently teaches interactive and web design at Parsons in New York.
Samuel Sherman has been contributing to Ffffound since November 7, 2007. He has currently ffffound more than 1,054 images and his very first was an image of a sculpture by Jospeh Bueys—a yellow lightbulb plugged into a lemon. Samuel is currently a Senior Designer at The Museum of Modern Art. He works directly with curators to develop exhibition design solutions for MoMA as well as P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Previously, Samuel worked at Duffy and Partners in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There he designed graphic identities and in-store displays. Samuel earned a BFA in Graphic Design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
The Highlights is an online arts journal devoted to artist writings and web-based projects. The co-founders are Skyler Brickley, Ethan Greenbaum, and Luke Stettner. The project began while they were in graduate school and initially the site was meant as a platform for artists to write critical reviews. It has since evolved to include a broader range of essays, interviews, and experimental web projects. The initial site design was created by Julia Weist and the current design is by Yoonjai Choi and Ken Meier. Stephen Hoban is the copyeditor.
Humble Arts Foundation works to advance the careers of emerging fine-art photographers by way of exhibition and publishing opportunities, limited-edition prints, artists grants, and educational programming. Founded in 2005 by Amani Olu and Jon Feinstein, Humble has been a pioneering hub for showcasing new fine-art photography, and has served as a resource for collectors, galleries, museums, curators, photo editors, and bloggers internationally.
I Heart Photograph is a blog about contemporary photography established in 2006 as a means to explore the edges of the medium and help shape how photography is understood as a contemporary discourse. The site’s content is explored daily by thousands of viewers and is frequently used as an educational resource for high school, undergraduate, and MFA classrooms around the world. Laurel Ptak is the site’s founder and curator.
Konst & Teknik is a graphic/design studio based in Stockholm, Sweden, dealing with art, technology, and things inbetween. They are responsible for the website/newsprint catalogue for the exhibition IN REAL LIFE. Konst & Teknik is Mattias Jakobsson and Peter Ström.
Leigh Claire La Berge is a Harper Fellow and Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. She received her Ph.D. from the American Studies program at New York University in 2008. Her dissertation, “Scandals and Abstractions: 1980s Finance and the Revaluation of American Culture” examines the representation of financial forms in contemporary American film, literature, and popular culture. In addition to her work on finance and literature, she has published articles on the critical theory of Slavoj Zizek, politics within the university setting, and most recently, the aesthetics of globalization. Her next project is focused on affective labor and contemporary psychoanalysis. Her work has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. A conversation between Leigh Claire La Berge and the show’s organizer, Laurel Ptak, is published in the exhibition catalogue for IN REAL LIFE.
Loshadka is Loshadka aLoshadk kaLoshad dkaLosha adkaLosh hadkaLos shadkaLo oshadkaL is. COOL WEED BUTT SICK BRAT CLAM YALE MACE DESK FACE HAIR DICK DOOR BOOB TOMB. The group's policy when insulting one another is to use sarcasm only as a last resort, and to keep it clean—no jokes about anyone's outfits, or mothers.
Loshadka is Justin Clark, Petra Cortright, Thomas Galloway, Eric Mack, Ilia Ovechkin, Jay Peyton, Billy Rennekamp, Ken Seeno, Hayley Silverman, Will Simpson, Travess Smalley, and Dan Wickerham.
Netmares/Netdreams is an evolving curatorial experiment employing networked methods of cultivation to explore connections among user-generated “netmare” and “netdream” experiences. The project is founded by Kari Altmann and Mark Brown and has numerous contributors.
Platform for Pedagogy notes that the history of the public lecture in the United States probably begins in 1826 with the founding of the first Lyceum or “literary club” in Massachusetts. In 1888 the popularity of the public lecture lead to New York state's legislative mandate to apply underused city spaces as sites for lectures. For over thirty years, under the auspices of Henry M. Leipziger, Superintendent of Lectures, the city funded over 4,000 annual lectures. Today, most public lectures in New York are funded and hosted by non-profit institutions as part of their supporting programs. The embedding of the public lecture in the institution's regular programming has resulted in a narrowing of attendees to those already initiated to the discursive terrain of the topic.
Platform for Pedagogy is a New York based initiative to advance a culture of cross-disciplinary public lecture attendance and develop the lecture as form. Platform Mailer is a weekly collection of public lectures in New York, and is distributed electronically. The determinate characteristic of the public lecture is form: the geographically bracketed transmission of knowledge by a privileged individual or group of individuals to an unsolicited public of mixed backgrounds and experiences. Historian Donald M. Scott has written on the birth of the public lecture in mid-nineteenth century America as a type of supplementary instruction distinct from the sermon, speech or oration — and yet borrowing formally from all three — in that the lecture is mandated and shaped by the public's desire for a certain knowledge. This public sought to expand the trajectory of education typically confined to their formal or professional training by accessing these platforms for pedagogy.
Private Circulation is a free monthly PDF bulletin distributed by email to 400 subscribers. It was started in January 2008 in response to the limited studio and exhibition space available in New York City. Private Circulation publishes proposals, unrealized art projects, large posters, essays, brief histories, and photo collections by artists, writers, and curators. Past issues of the bulletin have featured, among other things, a 36-by-36-inch poster of Brooklyn traffic patterns; a proposal for a video assembled from photographs of televisions showing the Apollo 11 moon landing; a chronicle of the inadvertent destruction of Nick Normal’s digital archive of plastic bags; a list of characters from Bob and Ray radio programs by Charles Gute; and an account of the working conditions of the production of the universal archive. Private Circulation is edited and distributed by Lance Wakeling.
Laurel Ptak is the organizer of the exhibition IN REAL LIFE. She is an independent curator based in New York City. She frequently teaches, lectures, and writes about photography, the internet, and image culture as well as curates many “offline” exhibitions based on her blog, iheartphotograph.com. (Aura portrait of Laurel above taken by Carlo Van De Roer.)
VVORK is a daily selection of art. VVORK started in 2006 as a continuation of the editorial project Mi Magazine. VVORK is curated by Aleksandra Domanović, Oliver Laric, Christoph Priglinger, and Georg Schnitzer.
UbuWeb was founded by Kenneth Goldsmith as a small digital repository of visual and concrete poetry, and has become the premier online archive of the avant-garde. Goldsmith has tirelessly maintained UbuWeb's will to be free: essentially a gift economy, poetry is the perfect space to practice utopian politics. Freed from profit-making constraints or cumbersome fabrication considerations, information can literally “be free”: on UbuWeb, we give it away and have been doing so since 1996.
Over the last decade the site has grown to host hundreds of gigabytes of sound files, texts, and videos. UbuWeb is sprawling: new resources pop up almost daily. Editors and curators work in conjunction with a vast international network of amateur archivists and volunteer digitizers to present an immense archive of experimentation, innovation, and—as often as not—pure insanity.
Our archival acquisition is decidedly DIY: running OCR, ripping out-of-print LPs, scanning rare books, and capturing a variety of video objects any way we can get them. In all respects, UbuWeb works to index, house, and distribute avant-garde rarities as universally accessible information—to all parties with unrestricted bandwidth.
UbuWeb thrives on the support of our partners, generously lending bandwidth and content in addition to their cultural capital: Anthology Film Archives, WFMU, PennSound, Electronic Poetry Center, WVU CLC, Artmob, Grey Lodge, Electra, Roulette, SoundEye, and Primary Information. Still, all labor and editorial work is voluntary; no money changes hands. Totally independent from institutional support, UbuWeb is able to offer an idiosyncratic, unrestricted presentation of the avant-garde-at-large: a clean, clear, cohesive set of previously unavailable works that have already infiltrated countless hard disks and educated a generation of artists, musicians, writers, and archivists.
Why + Wherefore is a curatorial platform co-founded and -directed by Summer Guthery, Lumi Tan, and Nicholas Weist. The project began in 2007 as a URL designed to facilitate experiments in curatorial practice in order to grow closer with a family of practicing artists and thinkers. Theme- or rule-based group shows are chosen collectively and produced as schedules allow. Some manifest only online, and some in physical spaces around the world, as the needs of the projects dictate. The first commissions by Why + Wherefore, by 8 major artists, were shown in 15 cities internationally, at such venues as Casa Encendida, Madrid; Hiromi Yoshi, Tokyo; and PICA, Portland, OR. Why + Wherefore recently expanded to describe the collective curatorial practice of its co-founders outside of self-generated projects, when the School of Visual Arts in New York City invited them to curate its 2009 MFA thesis show.
The exhibition IN REAL LIFE invites the people behind innovative and independent online art initiatives to each come do a 4-hour residency inside a gallery space, attempting to explore how the distribution, production, analysis, and consumption of culture are rapidly evolving in an online context. In particular the show aims to render the labor of these online practices transparent, providing “real life” access to these cultural producers, and overall inspiring public dialogue around their practices.
The 14 participating websites—Art Fag City, ASDF, Club Internet, Ffffound, The Highlights, Humble Arts Foundation, I Heart Photograph, Loshadka, Netmares/Netdreams, Platform For Pedagogy, Private Circulation, UbuWeb, VVORK, Why + Wherefore—represent a wide spectrum of online practices and practitioners. Among them are: online curators and critics, internet surfers, bloggers, artist collectives, and much more. These sites, and others like them, represent a truly expanded field for the discourse of contemporary art. Often they show us work, viewpoints, and voices missing from more established, “real world” venues. Overall they have pioneered forms and frameworks that offer us new ways to see, think about, and participate in contemporary visual culture.
The exhibition title IN REAL LIFE derives from the texting/chatting acronym IRL. This interplay between the forms of the digital world and those of the physical world is a concept explored in endless ways throughout this exhibition. For example: the catalogue and website designs are one in the same—while normally print and onscreen publications have markedly different specifications, demands, conventions, and expectations—here their differences have been conspicuously ignored to create a feedback loop between the two.
Also consider the installation, which features participants working on their websites as they would normally do privately, inside a public context. Bringing their laptops and belongings from home, they work at a desk in the center of an otherwise empty gallery space and their desktop activities are both projected large-scale onto the gallery wall and published online.
While some websites have created special projects for their 4 hours inside the gallery space, some will just go about work as usual on their sites. In either case, a crucial aspect of the exhibition is its viewing public who are greatly encouraged to stop by, chat, ask questions, and act as active participants IN REAL LIFE.
Huge thanks are owed to every single participant/website in this exhibition. And nothing would have been accomplished at all without the help of The Armory Show, Karen Codd, Rachel Day, Zach Genin, Mattias Jakobsson, Leigh Claire La Berge, The Mondriaan Foundation, Sophie Mörner, Erin Jane Nelson, Eric Nylund, Megan Plunkett, Martin Ström, Peter Ström, Webrss.com, Hilary Ferris White, and Yahoo Pipes. Very special thanks to the United States military and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for inventing the internet. —LP
What follows is the transcript of a conversation via Skype between myself and Leigh Claire La Berge on 22 February 2009. We chatted about the concept of labor as it relates to the exhibition IN REAL LIFE.
Leigh Claire La Berge
Part of the aesthetic preoccupation of the exhibition is to show how immaterial labor circulates, is produced, how it appears?
Yes, I suppose I’m interested in making the immaterial materialize to some extent with this show. But certainly there is much back and forth between these two conditions happening simultaneously. For instance: the work that the exhibition participants do on their laptops while in the space gets projected both onto the gallery wall and published online.
Leigh Claire La Berge
It seems to me a kind of mimicry of the immaterial; but I don’t think it is a mimicry of the affective. That to me seems like an interesting limit of the exhibition. I mean, certainly part of all aesthetic production includes an affective labor as well, and it seems like it will be a very important part of the viewer's experience here.
That’s interesting to me, say more about this idea of affective labor, what exactly do you mean by this?
Leigh Claire La Berge
I would say affective labor is the orienting of oneself to act, respond, and interpret at a relational or interpersonal level. Having the people in the space themselves producing is certainly immaterial, in all the Negri-esque senses of the word, but it is also affective in that the viewer will be in the space with them, they will be in the space with each other. One psychoanalyst I know says that affect is the work of making oneself known in relation to the other.
That’s an important point, that the viewer of the exhibition has agency in that way.
Leigh Claire La Berge
This also makes me think of the nineteenth-century labor projects in department stores, where customers could watch wooden flowers and the like being made right there in the store at the same time and place they could buy them. Labor was portrayed as amusing and entertaining. Walter Benjamin has some interesting stuff on this. But with this exhibition, what are we watching being made? And, at a certain level, is the watching of it standing in for the making?
Well, I’ve been thinking about Benjamin too, specifically his essay “Author As Producer.” He says: “An author who has carefully thought about the conditions of production today [...] will never be concerned with the products alone, but always, at the same time, with the means of production.”
I think that the web practices this exhibition centers on do exactly that with respect to art and culture.
Leigh Claire La Berge
Yes, well even if not at an individual level, they would have to at a socio-historical, level, no?
Well, you’re the historian amongst us, so you would know better than me! As a curator of contemporary art I am thinking much more about how meaning circulates in an immediate context I suppose.
For me these websites each represent, in their own way, extremely vital, forward-thinking, and novel spaces, approaches, and attitudes towards contemporary art and its production/distribution/circulation, that’s why they're interesting to me.
Leigh Claire La Berge
How so? What’s different about the browser as medium?
Well, a lot of things. For one thing its immateriality. Most artworks in the world are still object-based, yet the browser negates that.
Leigh Claire La Berge
But how is a computer immaterial? Think of all the networks, bandwidths, cables, cords, etc.
The apparatuses we use to create these things might be material, but their results can be rather immaterial and ephemeral (a lot like art itself). The installation of the show is negotiating that to some extent. and the use of the gallery, which is also material, is about utilizing physical space as a site of public discourse around these practices.
Leigh Claire La Berge
There’s that great line, whose author I am forgetting, that says the injunction of capital to its subject used to be “consume!” and now it is “communicate!”
That may be so, and certainly many websites urging us to “communicate!” right now like Facebook or Flickr are doing so in the service of capital. It’s important to remember that there is a real tradeoff for our using their technology and communication tools for “free.” Really these sites want us there because we represent valuable demographics and because we can be marketed to. So we’re back to “consume!” all over again, just under the guise of “communicate!”
But of course I see the websites collected here in this exhibition very differently. Their motives for communicating are tied to creating community and discourse as ends in and of themselves.
Leigh Claire La Berge
Is anything for sale here?
No! Nothing is for sale.
Leigh Claire La Berge
A kind of pause in an indefinite chain of commodification that we should probably just enjoy because who knows for how long it will last! To communicate in a space of capital, or communicate to form a critical space these have to be different demands. But these websites are creating a community, in the most important sense of the word.
I suppose one open question that the exhibition asks is this: what happens when you try to migrate those communities from the online world into the real world?
Of course one never really replaces the other, we have them both simultaneously. And they do each have their own distinct qualities. For instance I would argue that digital space does manage to reconfigure some social boundaries that feel much harder to transgress in the physical world.
Leigh Claire La Berge
Yes, that’s why it’s usually a textual or aesthetic space. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens “in real life.”
Yes, I’ll be very curious...