Monday, June 13, 2011

@Platea Featured in ARTnews This Month

An Xiao and Hrag Vartanian Tweet during "The Artist is Kinda Present" (2010) -- photo by Joanie San Chirico
Barbara Pollack has written an excellent article on social media art for ARTnews this month.  An Xiao's "The Artist is Kinda Present" is the lead image for the article and the only image included in the online version.  @Platea's "Tree-Blogging" project is also discussed.

As I look over the article and consider some of the work we've done with social media art, I am struck by two observations.  First, that almost everyone doing this work is simultaneously troubled and enthralled by social media.  That is, social media is always already a mixed bag of good and ill.  As a result, art and creative expression seems to be a particularly productive way to negotiate those rocky shores.  Second, that social media art struggles a bit with pre-existing interpretive frames for making sense of art.  At the simplest level, this might be summed up in the (fabricated?) disagreement between An Xiao and Lauren Cornell about whether this work is something new or something we've always been doing.  At another level, I think the article features individual works when the "work" is often the interplay between artists and sites of sharing/production.  So, for example, I think one of the central tensions in "Tree-Blogging" is whether the art is at the nodes of the emerging tree (so much easier to share in photo documentation) or in the branching relationships between those nodes.  Like some kinds of performance art, social media art seems to revel in the ephemeral, in art that exceeds "objectness."

The article is well written and demonstrates the considerable breadth of ways artists are working with social media. There are several provocative quotations from a variety of sources about the purpose and emerging prevalence of social media art.  Enough fodder, surely, to start a conversation in a Web 2.0 platform such as this...

Anarchy Tree (2006) -- Photo by Jonathan Gray.  One of the "trunk" prompts from "Tree-Blogging"

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