Bad at Sports: Hyperjunk Response

Nicolas O’Brien, one of the artists in the current Art Micro Patronage show, “Can’t Touch This” curated by Karen Archey, also writes a column entitled Hyperjunk on the Bad at Sports blog.  He was kind enough to include us in his most recent post, ”Hyperjunk: Observations on the Proliferation of Online Galleries,” a thoughtful survey and analysis of current online galleries.

However, there are a couple of points in the article that caught our attention, specifically in regards to our project.  In the spirit of keeping the conversation going, we’ve included some responses below:


If an ideal environment of an artists working online lies within the personal computing web-browsing experience, then why the need for relocating these works into another specific website/framing? What is “more accessible” about an online gallery then an artists personal website? Are the tropes from the traditional gallery system still playing too significant a role in the way in which net-art is being presented?


With Art Micro Patronage the idea of the curated group show is central.  We’re trying to encourage criticality about what is happening online by hiring curators to bring together artists whose work explores similar themes.  The internet is incredibly diverse and far flung which makes the process of synthesis and curation that much more important.  I trust some institutions and curators to do the research and outreach to bring to my attention artists whose work I may not have been exposed to otherwise, but also to highlight what is happening more broadly.  So maybe it’s not the works themselves that are rendered more accessible, but rather the connections between them.

To favor one system over the other, or to underscore the supposed ignorance of major cultural institutions for not having more net based art, can position the artist, work, or community as having ingrained entitlement due to its novelty.


I’m not sure I agree that it deserves entitlement due to its novelty.  In the late 90′s and early 2000′s there were quite a few institutions that were collecting and attempting to show net art.  But most gave it up.  At that point there was an exuberance about the novelty of anything and everything that was happening online.    However now I believe we’re at the point where the technology has caught up and the novelty has died down, and because it is so ingrained in our culture, the work that is happening online in a cultural context deserves critical attention.  It was in part the recognition that artists working online isn’t novel at all that motivated us to do this project.

Further, we hope to continue expanding the idea of what is considered “netart”.  We intentionally found curators working in diverse parts of the artworld in order to cull different works and types of shows.   For example, our next show curated by Dena Beard highlights the work of primarily social practice and conceptual artists who use the web to document their more ephemeral practice or as a site of exchange.  While these may not be “net artists”, the internet is an important part of their practice.

The importance of saying no

There is a lot of talk about what artists should do to make the conditions under which they work a little bit better.  We’ve been part of those talks, notably around the time that we were working on State of the Arts with Joseph delPesco.   However, often those talks end with big dreams, sometimes that are just too big for anyone in the room to tackle willngly.  In contrast, TPG11 artist Helena Keeffe has taken it upon herself to make a small stand for herself as an artist and the conditions she will work under.  She does this by saying no.

I don’t think demonizing institutions is the answer. If I’m an advocate for any one strategy it is giving oneself permission to say no.

Read more on OPENSPACE >>

In her recent response to a conversation that took place at the SFMOMA, she shares the letters she has written rejecting invitations and calls to shows.  Her individual campaign, where she calls on the organizers to recognize that exposure is not always enough compensation, especially for artists that are project based, has resulted in some small changes from those putting on the shows.   It helps that she is very polite in her address, just sharing her point of view without demonizing those who have imposed the conditions that she is choosing to reject.

In the end, most people are just trying to figure ways that these systems can support all that are involved and not bankrupt anyone.  We all have blind spots until someone points them out.  And sometimes small efforts like these might in the end make the most difference in creating an art world that works for everyone.

Treating content like it’s free: Craft Publishing

There are more examples of this every day. I know we live in the “free economy” but I just don’t understand where that ends. Sometimes it is good to trade free content for exposure – it can be the best advertising choice that one can make. The problem lies when there is no end, when no one who is creating content gets paid.

My friend Lauren pointed this article on the problems with Craft Publishing out on her blog, and it has spurred an interesting conversation over on Make + Meaning.    On the other hand, today another editor extolls the virtues of free.  I think it’s so interesting to see how this discussion develops – I feel like our generation will figure out the different ways it can work for years to come. Or not – we’ll just have to see.

More Musings on Exposure as Payment

This article was pointed out to me by @maryanndevine on Twitter a while back but somehow I missed it.

Corwin Christie, writing for Technology in the Arts, has a really good article and has spawned quite a bit of conversation in her comparison of the Google scandal to standard Non-profit arts practices.

Last week I wrote about the indignation I feel when I see a company like Google wanting to use art without financially compensating the artists. The post and ensuing discussion on Facebook generated some interesting feedback, and many people expressed the concern that perhaps artists have set the bar low themselves.

This got me thinking about how it is that artists begin accepting less than they are worth–and I think, unfortunately, it is because of the close collaboration that artists have with non-profit arts organizations. And this is much more difficult to get irate about. As I rail against Google for devaluing the work that artists do, I can’t help but think back on the numerous non-profit arts organizations with which I have either been involved or encountered as an artist.

Non-profit organizations, those bastions of hope, those doers of good, whose belief in the arts propels us through the darkest hours of our economic crises, are they immune to the tirade I so readily unleashed on Google?

Click here to keep reading on Technology in the Arts

I’m glad to see people talking about this issue.  I too find it an almost impossible conundrum.  But discussion is good.  What about you, the great wide internet world?  Have you found any examples of nonprofits recognizing this issue and changing the way that they do things so that they start paying the artists they show?  Or does the answer lie outside of the non-profit world, in the shall we say, “no-profit” or “not-for-profit” world?  There are people rethinking, but most of what I have seen comes from this latter world.  There will also always people who want to get their work out for free for a time.  It’s like internships.  I never understood all the people who took a year after they finished college to do an internship.  I had to support myself as, I think, most people do once their schooling is finished.

Art is valuable and everyone knows it. But somehow we just think that it should also be free.

The never-ending exposure as payment problem: Some Illustrators talk out against Google.

When Gary Taxali gave Google the finger (both in words and pictures) over 200 other illustrators and artists cheered him on.   Taxali wrote a post on Drawger that gained a lot of attention and apparently some legal threats as the post has now been taken down.  The New York Times today has reported on it here: Use Their Work Free? Artists Say No to Google.  And Reuters has an article with a bit more back story: Artists Give Google the Finger

Basically, it goes like this.  The economy is down, so people are trying to wring their freelancers for rights and free work.  This is such a common problem.  Don’t people realize that if enough people stop paying for work, eventually there won’t be anyone to do the work.  People have to make money at their work, whether it be illustration, art, architecture, floral design, catering, or any other service or product.

People have to hold their ground collectively, otherwise the whole field gets screwed. That’s not so easy to do though.

Whoa – restricted access twitter art – a new arts funding model

The Brooklyn Museum has a Twitter Art Feed!  Every month they welcome an artist to utilize twitter as a medium for their work.  This is wrapped up as part of a benefit for their 1st fans program- where you get to go to parties and meet artists, skipping ticket lines and such.  They call it a “socially networked museum membership.”  So you get some of the benefits of being a museum member without the high price and free access to the museum.  It is $20/year to join.  I’m not sure how they handle the yearly resubscribing – do they just block people and then allow them again?

The part that seems so great to me is that people have to pay to see this twitter feed.  And that is the only way that people are going to be able to see those artworks  Now, it seems from their open call that the artists would be doing this for “exposure” which I do not like.  I could be wrong about this, but there is no mention of money on the submission form at all. However I love this idea and it is really simple.

It does seem as though they’ve gotten some backlash for charging people to see their twitter feed.  But I don’t think they are explaining it right.  If they were giving money to the artists and it was clear that the money that people would be paying was giving them access to art and not just a twitter feed, then I think people would be more open to it.  People pay $20 to get into museums all the time.

I came upon this through Maryann Devine’s smArts & Culture blog.  She did an interview with An Xiao, one of their 1st Fan twitter artists.  Xiao used the twitter space to think about the evolution of communication and the similarities between twitter and morse code.  She tweeted in morse code for a month. You can watch a short video of her explaining the project below.

Go here for more info on 1st Fans.

Go here to follow Brooklyn Museum on twitter.

Go here to follow An Xiao on twitter.

Web hosting that supports artists.


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