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I was going to write a poem
I made a pie instead it took
about the same amount of time
of course the pie was a final
draft a poem would have had some
distance to go days and weeks and
much crumpled paper
the pie already had a talking
tumbling audience among small
trucks and a fire engine on
the kitchen floor
everybody will like this pie
it will have apples and cranberries
dried apricots in it many friends
will say why in the world did you
make only one
this does not happen with poems
because of unreportable
sadness I decided to
settle this morning for a re-
sponsive eatership I do not
want to wait a week a year a
generation for the right
consumer to come along
Last week, at the grocery store, I saw some pumpkins that looked like they had embarked on a breathtaking journey, all the way from Once Upon a Time. As I painted my version of them in my sketchbook, I thought of Halloween. We have survived what is arguably the scariest month of the year, as a result of having survived what has (possibly) been the most uncertain year of our lives. So, congratulations: On having gotten through ten of the twelve chapters.
It’s also been two weeks into the new cycle, which likely means that you are on the cusp of the avalanche that comes with the As- 1, 2 and 3; snowballing towards you, at top speed. Robin Williams would like you to embrace the spark of madness to cope.
It’s true that the world isn’t going to look very different come the stroke of midnight two months from now; but choosing to believe that you have the power to change that, is pretty darn empowering.
P.S: We hope that you are sending your friends ridiculous pictures of your cat and staring at your ceiling for at least 3 and a half minutes and 12 seconds a day. If not, why? 🟡
Reading Time: 5 Minutes
This essay was produced for the publication that accompanied the event “Rickroll” organised by Open File in 2013 (Spike Island, UK). It’s interesting to relook at this event today because it explored forms of emerging online interaction, memes and virtual socialisation — one of its premises could not feel more timely: “What happens to ideas of community and society if more interaction takes place on a virtual platform?” Since the introduction of the first web browser (Mosaic) in 1993, much has happened on virtual platforms. Artists and curators have used the web and internet networks for the production, display and circulation of art; uses that see the website and the network as ecosystems that allow for alternative forms of creation, sharing, presentation, and nurturing of communities. If the mid 1990s marked the growth of artistic and curatorial experiments with the web medium — a medium of many media to make and display art with — the first decade of the 2000s (the years of the platformisation of the web) generated a major shift in the production, display and engagement with art in the online environment. The increasing entanglement between consumption and production, as well as culture and entertainment, gave life to renewed modes of communication and publishing for which artists and curators explored mechanisms such as those of collectively-generated cultural material, of reposting and tagging, of vast databases of user-produced content, or of disrupting browsing routines. It is the interweaving of the online and offline spheres that triggered some of the questions discussed in this essay, like the one about the possibilities ingrained in the movement (of art and cultural material) in-between the online and offline.
During a conversation about online distribution and popular culture, someone said to me: “Rick Astley owns 4chan”, meaning that musician Rick Astley would have not made it into music history, or better still business hadn’t his music video “Never Gonna Give You Up” become an Internet meme. Namely, hadn’t it come to really matter as a hyperlink widely spread across websites via randomly being connected to other online material with little apparent relevance to the content of the music itself, let alone its author.
Within such online-induced social phenomena, it seems that a thing exists as an in-between other things, that cultural material is a sort of fluctuating whole in which its parts always exist as and in connection with something else, most likely the everything else. There is no chronological order, no beginning nor end because sources and conclusions do not matter anymore in the same way they mattered before. In this in-between, subjects often turn into objects of and in transmission; they are virtual packages gone viral, such as the one introduced above, the meme which becomes a sort of content-means. This is the in-between for which receivers – our unaware users, the rick-rolled – turn into consumers and often active producers in themselves –see the theorisation of the figure of the “prosumer” by artist Curt Cloninger.
Moving away from our metaphorical Astley, I wonder what sort of reverberations the scenario above has had and has in the context of contemporary art production, in relation to its ecology. If we take forward the aforementioned workings, the cultural material that circulates in such a manner seems likely to have an equal and simultaneous existence, impact and therefore significance both online and offline. It also exists not as a static form but as a form and content in movement, likely to be subjected to continuous transformations which disregard neat distinctions between that online and this offline. It is all part of our socio-cultural scenario, after all, a scenario which by being highly related to communication infrastructures sees an erasure of the that and the this.
That said, how might we discuss the ontology of the contemporary art product in the wake of such Internet-induced phenomena, its condition of being? A straightforward example of how this friction could emerge might go as follows: If a work of art exists as a web-based artwork encompassing textual elements, visuals and an appropriated video from YouTube, but it also exists as a limited-edition poster which stems from its online precedent as well as a looped video which reworks the other two versions, all while bearing the same title and author – to whom perhaps the creator of the appropriated video could be added –, where would its value lie? Would it be considered as one piece comprising all three, as a distributed artwork? Would one format, perhaps the most stable, be chosen amongst the other two? Moreover, how would a critic analyse and describe the work? Under what kind of category, or labelling, would this work enter if at all, the history of contemporary art? Under the label of inter-media narrative work, perhaps?
Astley is a metaphor and its only value in our context lies in making transparent the movement, and the possibilities ingrained in this movement in-between the online and offline. But it still operates as a product, a distributed product that little has to offer to the creation and understanding of other narratives; narratives that are scattered through sites, that are overarching, that disregard stability in favour of erasing dichotomies and setting into place other ecologies.
This is an excerpt of an essay originally featured at OpenFile.org
republished with the permission of the author. Featured image is screenshot of Google Image search for Never Gonna Give You Up.
Marialaura Ghidini is a professor in the School of Media, Arts and Sciences at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology where she is currently leading MA in Curatorial Practices – Film, Media and Visual Arts. She was the founder-director of the curatorial platform or-bits.com (2009-2015), co-created project #exstrange (2017) and currently runs Silicon Plateau with artist Tara Kelton.
1. Tamara Shopsin, an artist, cook, and New York Times illustrator, travelled to India with her husband, embarking on a journey that was life-changing. Here’s an interview about it that covers everything from J.J School of Art and appams to MRIs, CAT Scans and heartfelt emails.(Spoiler Alert: Nobody died. This is about Hope, remember?)
2. As long as we’re talking about pies, pumpkins and goodwill, it seems worthwhile to bring up Mary Karr’s legendary advice, “Put down that gun, you need a sandwich”.
3. In our last issue, the “disconcerting problem” of rampant napping was discussed. Novelist Philip Roth seems to have a wildly different perspective about it: “… the best part of it is that when you wake up, for the first 15 seconds, you have no idea where you are. You’re just alive. That’s all you know. And it’s bliss, it’s absolute bliss.” 🟡
Source: New York Public Library
If for you, Halloween is about ghoul and gore; and these links have been nothing more than a big ball of cheese: Here’s what haunted mirrors have to do with the lover of your dreams.
Incidentally, these are all in the public domain which means you can use them to make something of your own too! 🟡
I am a visual artist, communicator and writer, pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology. I try to create art that is layered and speaks in bits and pieces. I have always painted traditionally, acrylics being my favourite medium. When I moved out for college, I started experimenting with digital art. I was terrible at it in the beginning and for quite a long time to come. Only in the past year have I felt remotely comfortable with the digital medium, but there is so much you can do with just a screen, it feels incredible to me. I have always liked taking a transdisciplinary approach while working. A lot of my work travels within itself, from my writing to my art and vice versa. My art is always evolving, all the time. Depending on my mood, the weather, the month, the environment, my style goes through drastic changes which is unsettling for me at times but it makes the process of making art more interesting for me. My art is generally a concoction of social issues, imaginations in my head and small things around me, like the honey bee I see fly by my window for example. I struggle to balance between the real and the surreal quite a bit while juggling college work and personal projects. Srishti has given me the classes that are best for enriching and carving out my creativity. I am a big procrastinator and I get lost in thoughts and ideas quite often, I am still working really hard to schedule my work-time and be more productive. Being kind to oneself and their work is the best thing an artist can do while not getting comfortable in one space of mind, I try following that as my everyday work ethic. 🟡
Reading Time: 3 Minutes
In the earlier phases of the pandemic, when we were all new to the phenomenon of cleaning up after ourselves, my brother and I were allotted the task of cleaning utensils after dinner. At first, when he made comments like ‘there’s no way the vegetable cutting board is actually supposed to be washed every day,’ I thought he was being funny. But soon, I realized, this was not the only difference between our understanding of this work. On having finished, he would talk about quite a bit about having done it, while I thought that talking about having done it would make a big deal out of the fact that I had done this small task, which was already a very tiny portion of what the house functioned on.
I’d like to believe that my parents are not sexist, at least not consciously. They have never told me to help out in the house any more than they have asked my brother or treated us differently in any obvious manner. And yet, there was this difference.
At the time, I didn’t think much of it. But I’ve had plenty of time to feed my anxiousness with research, this summer. Anxiousness, about what my future in the creative world, nay, what my future as a woman in the creative world would hold. It was in the midst of this, that a friend introduced me to this debate over the pay gap and its causes.
While the speaker could not convince me on many of his claims (one particular one regarding women’s ‘duty’ to ensure men aren’t infants seemed exceptionally disturbing), a new concept to me, which rendered me speechless, was about the agreeableness of women. How, most men were less agreeable than most women, and hence were treated better by the system. Since women don’t ask for as much, or as often as men, they are not treated in the exact way as men. If men didn’t ask for a raise as much as they do, they would probably get paid a little lesser as well. If I made as much of a deal about cleaning utensils, I probably wouldn’t have to do any other work for the rest of the day either.
As Peterson goes on to say, “there is prejudice, there’s no doubt about that.” But the prejudice may not be the only reason. Disregarding a good job one does as ‘something I was supposed to do,’ or trying not to make a big deal of it, seems to reduce it to just that in other’s views as well. And as much as we’d like to say that the pay gap is entirely because the system is tilted in men’s favour (which it is, to a very large extent), it is also up to us to raise our voices in situations in which we do have some control. As Stefan Sagmeister spends his entire video and this consequent Ted talk outlining, “If I don’t ask, I don’t get.”
Lastly, here is an article that displays the work of the women who are raising their voices about this very issue. By leaving their paintings 47.6% incomplete, they’re giving their buyers what they pay for, in comparison to their male counterparts. If the numbers weren’t intimidating enough, maybe the visual of a half blank canvas will drive the ridiculousness home.
Tales From the road begrudgingly traveled :
a comic in ten parts.