The following is a Gmail chat with Ceci Moss, Senior Editor at Rhizome. Copied and pasted from Rhizome’s site, Ceci is also a writer, musician, DJ, and curator. She presently writes and edits the online contemporary art and music journal A Million Keys. For the past seven years, she’s programmed the weekly radio show Radio Heart covering experimental, post punk, noise and miscellaneous obscurities on KALX and East Village Radio. She also produces solo recordings under the name Mi Or and the Pedestals. Above image found on my external hard-drive from January 2008.
Me: Is there any place on there that you thought would be a good place to start? Something that has come up?
In the talk I did w/ Laurel Ptak, there was the tension between doing something for your following – and maintaining an integrity in your work.
Ceci: I think what you get at on the blog
is the sense that artists have more of an immediate contact with their audience now
moving some artists into more of a performative mode
me: Like, self as performance. Exhibiting one’s personality, like via a blog.
Ceci: there’s that, definitely
but also, some artists who work in mediums like photography
would see a more instant response to their artwork
that, 20 years ago, would not take place in the same way
me: yes. have you talked w/ artists who have come across any problems with this response?
Like, maybe feeling pressure to please people more.
Sent at 4:29 PM on Friday
Ceci: not necessarily — although plenty of artists I’ve talked to are excited about the prospect of more people seeing their work
me: what’s interesting about the internet and audience, is that it is easy to see what people like and what people don’t like.
Through re-blogs… google alerts…. etc….
I think “market” is the wrong word here, but it almost becomes like a market, like watching the collective approval or disapproval of something.
Ceci: But sometimes how people come across work is purely by happenstance
Like a popular blog posts images of an installation, and then a ton of people bookmark it, etc.
Is that a gauge on popularity, exactly?
Or more an audience’s reading habits, or taste informed by those habits?
Sent at 4:33 PM on Friday
me: It might not show popularity, but it increases the artists “network value.”
But maybe that is a whole different conversation.
me: But, besides just bookmarking, there are the “likes” like on tumblr, or the star rating…
So, that does reflect what people like.
Ceci: There are plenty of ways to give the thumbs up for something, sure
me: And do you think this changes the way artists work online? Or, artists who grow up online?
B/c the audience is a lot more active
Ceci: I think what shifts is the understanding that you’re always in public, and that you’re always connected to that public,
Like, there’s an action/reaction to whatever you produce
Also, and this is another subject, I think in the case of work that exists offline in physical form, things can get leaked earlier or misrepresented
Like — the only images of your installation or sculpture may be blurry, taken on a camera phone
I’m not saying the blurry images misrepresents the work
but I am saying that it may misrepresent how the artist wants their work represented — some artists are sensitive about that
but also, maybe those artists misunderstand how information circulates now
that the blurry cell phone image is part of the discourse of the work in today’s digital communication society
Do you have any thoughts about art, that when placed online, goes outside of the context of “art”? – The question on the blog was: What negative and positive aspects arise when artists make something in context of art, puts in online, and a following forms of non-art-context-people?
Ceci: I think it’s a great thing
For a long time, art has been associated with an element of surprise or discovery
Larger circulation allows for that to happen more often
and to reach more people
A negative response can also be interesting
Like the comment fields in Dennis Knopf’s bootyclipse videos
me: I haven’t seen those…
Ceci: For the project, he took booty dancing videos from you tube, but cut out the actual footage of the girls dancing
So all you see is the interior of people’s homes and bedrooms
He reposted the videos online, with all the same titles/info/tags etc
So, viewers searching YouTube for booty dancing videos would find them and play them, expecting to see a girl dancing
When they discover that material has been edited out, many responded in anger
me: ha, that is the surprise!
Ceci: the comments are really funny
the comment fight is so interesting
when people berate each other (and the video) in comments
YPop That Pussy
The users are angry at Dennis, for not delivering the goods
It’s quite funny and smart
me: I like that
And this is an example of an artist working inside this terrain of internet users/audience – knowing that people will find it b/c of certain tag words…
If that was the intention.
Do you think, that because artists can have a larger and more immediate audience b/c of the internet: do you think that this shifts the artists interest outside of a more “autonomous” art-referential thinking – and more open to non-art-context people?
did that make sense?
b/c the audience is no longer just in the art community – so, to keep it within the discourse of where contemporary art is at – you either bring a wider internet audience into that discourse – or you expand that discourse to include them.
I just read a TJ Clark book on Gustave Courbet, and he discussed how Courbet was painting for both the critics and art world of the time, but also for the new emerging audience coming out of the new communities of migrants from the rural to the urban, and this upset a lot of the art people of the time..
Ceci: I think for some artists, sure
But there are other artists who probably believe in the importance of that autonomy
it’s hard to generalize
but for the latter
they probably wouldn’t be working online, or would they?
Ceci: Probably not
If you want to limit your audience, the internet would be the wrong place to do it.
Sent at 5:02 PM on Friday
me: Do you believe in a responsibility towards your following? Like, that it’s not just the art that matters, but that a consideration for these people that are following what you are doing? I sometimes get emails saying that I have influenced people’s lives, which was weird at first. And then I realized that so many people can see what I am doing, that there should be some kind of responsibility here. Maybe even in terms of “educational,” though, I’m not sure.
Ceci: I think it’s the same responsibility that comes with other art forms too,
At the end of the day, you should do what you want to do for yourself and pursue the questions that you think are important – the questions that drive your practice.