Alan Sondheim on Sun, 24 May 2009 11:21:00 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> New Media art

already screwed up, the message is gone but wanted to make a few comments 
on Florian's reply, misquotes are that w/ apologies

Always felt as F. the most interesting art was indeed outside the gallery 
system but the system was such was and still is fairly porous; people like 
Acconci and Beuys always were in & out, Haacke seemed more institutional- 
ized than might appear now just as Buren seemed less. There was a lot of 
flux / available space - places in NY like 112 Greene had all sorts of 
dissassembly w/ Jeffrey Lew (sp) who funded things from somewhere, maybe 
his own money. Laurie Anderson was far more interesting with her 
unsponsored performance stuff I thought, but here's the rub, I have to 
deconstruct my own romanticism here, recognize a kind of connoisseurship 
at work - her effect, whatever that was, was far greater w/ acceptance.

To this day I don't know what new media is although I've taught it. In the 
States at least, the nm areas I've been involved with always suffered from 
a lack of money; places like Florida Int'l U for example insisted that 
every department "justify" themselves by producing income. Design did well 
- nm literally disappeared as an arts area (lost my job and the track was 
removed as well). Design could benefit the u - nm absorbed money, had to 
be software-updated constantly.

Nm is an attitude maybe more than anything else - Gaz' paintings in Sl wd 
hold their own translated into gallery stuff - I think of Greg Curnoe in 
Ca. for example. That openness is rare in painting etc. where everything 
starts and stops with traditional materials, where there is a basis that 
people are expected to know & react to/from. Nm as far as I'm concerned 
has no basis, which is a good thing, it's an indefinite field. The only 
(probably unfair) comparison I can go on is watching "performance" 
strangle as "performance" emerged as something to be taught, departments 
and courses springing up. What gets lost in this is the idea of a more or 
less (I know, probably less) negotiation between someone presenting and 
someone being-presented-to - in other words, at first nothing was taken 
for granted, there wasn't a canon, the work was edgy and maybe more 
effective, I don't know. Once you begin w/in or w/out the (horizon of the) 
institutional, things change, are absorbed. This is all old hat. Where  it 
gets more problematic is in the canon, online art/culture is already a 
field of being-chosen/choosing for others or by others for others.

Two other comments in this meander, at least at the schools I've taught 
at, painting has been conservative, a retardation, maybe death to painting 
departments, the death of painting is always already premature. And even 
w/ the work I'm interested in (mail art btw at least in the US has always 
been in and out of institutions), the effect on the (a) public has seemed 
minimal, if at all, if anything more than a nuisance, however much we've 
wanted to think otherwise. Art in this country is less than ornament; as 
ornament though it's glued to the gallery system and there's big money to 
be made or at least maybe most of the students think. And those in media - 
not nm but tv/etc. are usually right - I've seen most of my Brown U film/ 
video students doing quite well, money begets money for the most part...

- Alan

| Alan Sondheim Mail archive:
| To access the Odyssey exhibition The Accidental Artist:
| Webpage (directory) at
|,, tel US 718-813-3285

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact: