Blog-art

On: November 1, 2009
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About Kimberley Spreeuwenberg
Currently I am a Master student of New Media at the UvA. In 2007 I graduated in Graphic Design at ArtEZ, Arnhem. During the study at ArtEZ I was introduced to some ‘grande’ theorists, like McLuhan and Manovich. After working as a graphic designer for one year I decided to expand my knowledge of the media I use as a professional designer and the way these media influence society. My interests in media are very broad, but I am especially focused on Internet and Internet culture. At this time I still work as a graphic designer. In my assignments I combine low and high technology tools (analogue and digital techniques). Visit my site!

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http://kspreeuwenberg.wordpress.com/    

A Few weeks ago I attended the Blog-art Festival in The Hague. I was eager to see how they interpreted the concept of ‘blog-art’, but as it turned out they did not interpreted it at all.

There were several presentations that had some link to blogging and art. For instance Ruud Peper of Stichting Dollypop talked about creative enterprises and the importance of networking. Bob Timroff talked about video art, which resulted in a summary of all the different websites that deal with video and television. There was music from John Dear Mowing Club (JDMC), and the Rockin Chair of Harco Rutgers was also presented.

What took me by surprise was that non of these projects raised the questions of “what is blog-art?”, why should you present blog-art in a theatre hall?, and “is it still blog-art if you remove it from a blog?” The presented projects were not very clear on their relation to blogging or blog-art either. JDMC and Harco Rutgers write blogs, but their music and art is not based on this medium. They only use blogs to ventilate their ideas and activities – as many of us do – but does this mean it should be presented on a blog-art festival or that it is blog-art?

“Obviously, many of the propositional, creative and expressive aspects of the blog phenomenon make many of their authors define their blogs as art works in their own right. Of course, many blogs show extremely creative and poetic qualities that make them much more than alternative systems for personal and interpersonal expression and communication.” [1]

According to the quote above you could argue that every blog could be seen as an artwork. The blogs of JDMC and Harco Rutgers on the other hand are not exactly poetic. I would argue that they are just “alternative systems for personal and interpersonal expression and communication.” But what does define blog-art?

Juan Martín Prada argues that blog-art is not about experimenting with the medium, but about questioning aspects of the medium itself. He gives the example of “Obsessive Consumption” by Kate Bingaman (2007) and the work titled “Eat 22” by E. Harrinson (2007) He explains that these projects are centered on studying the recording of time innate to blogs, and that these projects are only comprehensible from the perspective of conceptual art. [1]

“They refer to the complexity inherent to the time relationship established among the blog, the subject who “posts” something, and the readers, which is none other than that relationship of life itself in the shared recording of its passage through time. These projects emphasize the fact that we are fundamentally shared time (which is exhibited and recorded on media in today’s world). “blog-art” can be said to be an experiment not with a new media but rather of the artist in it (while being watched by many others).” [1]

Blog-art should raise questions and point out specific aspects of how we experience the medium. This means that blog-art is not necessarily connected to the medium itself. The work “Eat 22” consists of 1640 images and a movie created from these images. These works can be shown out of the blog environment without loosing their meaning and relation to blogs. So “Eat” 22 would be a perfect project for the blog-art festival in The Hague. Unfortunately the festival – as they explained – was only oriented towards giving “blog-art” a new platform. From their perspective this meant: transferring art that was blogged about to a “professional” environment without questioning the concept op “blog-art”. This approach resulted in very superficial presentations with vague relations to blogging. The organizers did not seem to have a clear vision of what blog-art should entail and this reflected in their program.

One interesting outcome of their ‘transfer approach’ was the Twitter Fountain. There was a huge Twitter Fountain projected on a screen in one of the lecture halls. It showed all the tweets regarding #blog-art. The tweets were sometimes very critical which resulted in a feedback loop between the event, the visitors, and the speakers. Twitter was not an “alternative system for personal and interpersonal expression and communication” anymore. It was not limited to your own little telephone or laptop screen anymore. It reflected and questioned the event. And because of the magnification of the screen and its publicity questioned the medium itself. If you follow Prada’s way of reasoning you could even see it as art.

Shane Brennan explains that the transfer of art from new media to a traditional exhibition space is based on “the pervasive assumption that one will curate new media using the strategies and platforms of traditional curating; new media art must be adapted to fit the white cube confines, or “hardware,” of mainstream exhibition practice.” She proposes that new media art should be curated with new media. Shane Brennan explains that blogs are the prefect surrounding to do so. They open the possibility for parallel and distributed spaces for viewing and exhibiting art. [2]

You could question of there even was a necessity for the Blog-art Festival in The Hague if the only interest of the organizers was to transfer art to another platform. As Shane Brennan points out this transfer does not seem to be necessary in the first place. I think my questions above show that there are reasons enough for a Blog-art Festival, but such a festival should not be addressed uncritically. The relationships between blogs, art, and blog-art are too complex and vague to approach the matter as just a transfer.

Sources
[1] Juan Martin Prada – “web 2.0” as a new context for artistic practices”
[2] Shane Brennan – New Climates for Curatorial Practice: Exhibiting Art Across Distributed Networks.

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