Joseph Franklyn McElroy Cor[porat]e [Per]form[ance] Art[ist] on Thu, 25 Apr 2002 06:56:01 +0200 (CEST)

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Quoting "Christopher Fahey [askrom]" <>:

>   FIRST, programming is hard work! The "individual-artist-genius" model
> of art criticism is hard to apply to Manovich's vision of this new
> "software artist" creature simply because programming is commonly done
> by more than one person. While individual artists like Praystation or
> Golan Levin may often work individually, we are increasingly seeing
> software artwork produced collaboratively. Multi-artist collaborations
> (like Alex Galloway's Carnivore collaborations) and murky artist
> collectives (the excellent c404) are able to produce works greater than
> the sum of their parts - also, they can frequently achieve greater name
> recognition as a group than as one person. It is widely believed that
> NN/m9ndfukc/nato may be at least five different people, any one of whom
> might have a hard time achieving that kind of notoriety by themselves.
> The amount of labor and specialized skill it takes to produce certain
> kinds of software artworks is comparable to the labor in making a film
> or a building. And like with films, it is often impossible to attribute
> the artistic vision of a single person to the final digital product. 

Software Arts has the ability to take the "fine arts" out of the bronze age (or 
maybe sent it back to the Stone age)...because it forces extensive 
collaborations to achieve sophisticated applications. 

>   This "collaborative model" borders on a kind of "corporate model". Jon

Your getting the picture...the blur begins to leave the screen.

> Ippolito recently advocated that digital artists should give up on
> making money as artists and keep their "day jobs". I would extend that
> idea even further to say that the production of software art is so
> similar to the production of commercial digital products that the two
> modes benefit from close proximity. 

Not just the production, but sales and marketing and SERVICES!  

>It is not uncommon to find that
> digital artists have day jobs working for digital companies, or to find
> artists who actually OWN or are principals of a commercial enterprise
> closely linked to their artistic production (examples include
>, and even my own comparatively staid
> Increasingly we are seeing artists who
> do not hide their day jobs from the art world, who are not embarrassed
> by their day jobs - and these artists tend to be digital artists.

Real women and men with hair on their chests. 

>   This is not to say that I exactly buy into the McElroy model of
> marketing artwork as a corporate product (to me his position often reads
> like a parody of the artist's aversion to corporate thinking), but I do

In college, I was the parody king!  I could think anybody under the table. 

> agree that the separation of art and commerce is unnecessarily
> artificial and does not lend itself well to the production of software
> artworks of any level of complexity above D.I.Y. 
>   I do not think that complexity=quality, but I do know that many
> artists (like myself) have dreams and visions of building artworks that
> are simply beyond the ability of a single person to realistically
> complete. While this has always been true for many art
> practices(fabricators and artists assistants are common even among plain
> ol' oil painters), it is particularly true for digital artists who
> cannot specialize in every digital production tool in the world. Someday
> we may have digital artists with their own (paid) programming staffs in
> much the same way a Nam June Paik likely has a nice little staff of
> fabricators and video technicians. 

Not too far away. Your cooking with Crisco Christopher.

>   This also ties quite closely with Ippolito's advocating that artists
> employ the General Public License method of copyright/patent-free
> production. The GPL itself was born out of the idea that building
> software products *requires* large teams of people: If a large team of

No - Richard Stallman got pissed that he didn't have the code to make his 
printer work and started on the path to make sure he always had the code.  The 
GPL solves two problems, one is to prevent others from making code proprietary 
and the other is to absolve the creators of liabilities and implied warranties. 

> developers is producing something just for fun, then they at least need
> some assurance that one of the members of the team won't just take the
> whole product and sell it as their own. The GPL allows development teams
> to form without worrying about who is the real "owner". And online
> source control systems like CVS provide the infrastructure for
> developers to work as close-knit virtual teams without stepping on each
> other's toes and without corporate management.

There is always management - somebody always has control.  People are managers, 
corporations are just legal constructs to protect individuals and/or to help 
capital grow. 

>   While I find the collaborative model more politically interesting than
> the "single-auteur-genius-with-a-staff-of-technical-assistants" model, I
> would also give my left arm to have five hotshit programmers working for
> me building my most elaborate ideas. 

Have you joined any Software organizations?  There a programmers out there who 
can be inspired to work on cool projects for free. 

>   SECOND, I think that "software artwork" needs to be subdivided
> somewhat. I think the net/not-net debate is less important than the
> interactive/non-interactive debate. We are living in a moment where we
> see an increasing number of artist-programmers whose work manifests as
> either "Autonomous Algorithm" or "Interactive Experience". 
>   "Autonomous Algorithm" describes a work that is entirely
> self-contained, where the software is executed and it does its thing
> regardless of what any human audience does to or with it. This category
> includes a wide variety of works, from 'artificial life' applications to
> automated data visualization systems to even plain old fashioned video
> and film and performance. Actions occur over time according to a
> pre-arranged plan. The plan may be simple, as is the case with a video,
> or it may be very complex, influenced by intricate algorithms,
> dynamically scraped data, random seeds, etc. Such works often have some
> interactivity to allow the user to browse through the product or change
> perspectives, but this interaction is not critical to the overall
> concept.

>   "Interactive Experience" includes everything from mouse-following
> Flash toys to Playstation games. In such a product, the interactivity is
> central to the experience. The user is invited to be involved, and the
> artist's intention/emotion/message is communicated through the user's
> actions and decisions. The experience can be physically immersive,
> visceral, or tactile... or it can be psychologically immersive or
> suspenseful. 
>   I am essentially trying to make a distinction between experiences that
> are meant to be *seen*and those that are meant to be *used*. 

>   It is my feeling that the Interactive Experience model is the only
> truly new art form because it alone introduces a fundamentally new and
> different kind of experience to humanity. Browsing and clicking freely
> from page to page on a web site and seeing different pictures,
> animations, and texts only scratches the surface of what interactive
> artworks really can be. Browsing, in fact, is not even the same as using
> or playing. AutoIllustrator and NATO, or Quake III and Grand Theft Auto
> II, are qualitatively different kinds of things from most web sites -
> they invite the user to stop being a viewer and to start forming goals
> and plans entirely within the context of the app/game. They involve a
> mental transformation, a mode change in the mind. They ask the user to
> invest a bit of their own consciousness into the machine's
> protoconsciousness, to put a stake in what the program does next. 
>   Just as experiencing traditional media is different from experiencing
> unmediated real life (this difference is disappearing in our
> media-saturated world, but this was not the case 100 years ago when
> seeing a movie was a jarring experience), experiencing interactive media
> is different from traditional media in a fundamental phenomenological
> way.

Yes, and people have been trying to figure out what to do with it for 30 years. 
The point is that, yes we have new abilities, but when cavemen discovered they 
could draw on walls with charcoal sticks, they didn't draw pictures of charcoal 
sticks or write thesis on the walls about how cool it was to draw pictures of 
charcoal sticks.  They didn't put charcoal sticks on ebay and say how cool they 
were for selling the instruments of change for spare change. They didn't argue 
about which type of tree made better charcoal sticks for drawing on walls.  
They didn't claim to be drawing on invisible walls.  However, I am pretty sure 
that cavemen used to sit around breathing smoke and commenting on the spirtual 
essense of stick figures. 

Joseph Franklyn McElroy 
Cor[porat]e [Per]form[ance] Art[ist]
Electric Hands, Inc
Electrify your sales, Electrify your Mind

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