Sunday, February 5, 2012

Recommended Reading

I'm reading and re-reading Jennifer Chan's recent essay "The Commodification of Net Art" (PDF download) right now, and I'd love to discuss it with anyone interested. Chan makes some incredibly lucid points about what happens to net art when "commodified," i.e. turned into a physical object. So far, the two main insights I've taken away from the article are:
  • Web-based artwork has a "digital aura," a quality which informs the viewer of its origin. This aura is easily lost outside of the context of the browser because display methods (such as a screen or a sheet of paper) ultimately complicate the reading of the work in a designated physical space.
  • "Non-discursive" art blogs encourage insular image critique, marginalizing the artwork as "hipster capital." Chan gives the example of Sterling Crispin's Greek New Media Shit tumblr as a site which demonstrates how in-jokes can reduce actual critique to shorthand aesthetic conventions. Hipster capital in this case refers to the trading of images and references within a scene, only comprehensible by those in the know.
Initial thoughts on these points so far: I still think it's fascinating to see the attempts people make to commodify net art. Maybe it's because I enjoy accumulating hipster capital. I would love to see an exhibition predicated on the "fruitlessness" of the commodification process.

Chan's insight on in-scene feedback loops is probably the most astonishing part of the article in my opinion; online aesthetic shorthand, " Internet memes," are often discussed as inevitably ballooning in popularity like a fad. However - and I know this sounds dubious - from personal experience, for every LOLcat that makes it big there are 100 images that are just as [useful/shareable/funny] that remain in-scene as modes of "discourse." Of course, as Chan points out, is a readymade meme a useful form of discourse after all, or does it actually restrict your audience, not to mention your thoughts?

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