Friday, January 27, 2006

Style and Subjectivity

Jean-Luc Godard says:

"To me style is just the outside of content, and content the inside of style, like the outside and inside of the human body. Both go together, they can't be separated."

This may relate to our question in class, the one that keeps coming up, about how we evaluate new media work. For example, how do we differentiate between a "good" remix and a "bad" one? Are these terms even useful anymore? Would we be better off trying to read the various remixes, or better yet, to scan them (progressively scan?), looking for clues to their style and the content that Godard says is always inside of it?

Style is often cool. It's what turns you on. It's what stimulates you. But it's not just style. It may also be FORM.

Ron Silliman, in an essay I just read this morning called "Wild Form" says, in relation to poetry:

"Form is social. It gives meaning to context through its display of the author's stance. But this meaning is always (and only) context specific."

You can replace "author" with whatever other term suits you: artist, collaborative network, remixologist, etc.

"[M]eaning is always (and only) context specific."

And for each subjectivity, context is always shifting, especially as we respond to these cultural productions in a proprioceptive way (our interior nerve centers "clicking" with connection or, when it's just not happening, feeling a total disconnect).

Subjectivity jams with subject matter in a way that is unique to you.

There's this phrase in pop culture: "do you feel it?" Or: "are you feeling it?"

To which you may respond: "I'm not feeling it."

Not feeling the Form.

Not connecting with the Content.

Not intersubjectively jamming with the specific context the content is infused with.

In this regard, you may not be connecting with the maker's intention. This disconnect may be intentional on your part. Or unintentional. It's like, why do you immediately connect with one person but not another. Or why do some interpersonal relationships take longer to get to the point where you're comfortably jamming with the Other?

Or maybe the new media work of art is starting to feel stale to you. "I've seen it all before," i.e. it's no longer cool, or in style.

And then there's this: remixologists run the risk of appearing too derivative. As Silliman says in the same piece linked to above:

"The situational specificity of form also explains why followers, imitators, epigones can never hope to extend or even replicate the meaning of their heroes. The meaning of any second generation is always the reification of the past, even if only to stabilize a sense of the present in order to render it less threatening and chaotic."

One possible way to evaluate the difference between a remix that turns you on and one that turns you off would be to rethink Robert Creeley's phrase "Form is nothing more than an extension of content" and its converse "Content is nothing more than an extension of Form" while keeping in mind the connection between Form/Style/Subjectivity and Content/Subject-Matter, especially as you proprioceptively engage with all kinds of art work that operate in specific contexts.

Remixing Miles Davis, quoted in my initial blog entry, you might say that "learning to engage your subjectivity in plastic dialogue with subject matter, may take longer than you expect."

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blog #2: Free as in ___?

Investigate these links from the class reading list: RTMARK, FREE CULTURE (LESSIG), FREECULTURE.ORG, COPYLEFT, AND CREATIVE COMMONS.

Consider further research into topics like the "gift economy" and "peer-to-peer networks (P2P)". Are distributed artist networks conspiring to make up their own theory? How do works of art theorize themselves? Is that the conspiracy of art?

You may also be interested in looking up the term "attention economy". How has the fluidity of digital source material made it easier to surf-sample-manipulate the data of everyday life, and how does contemporary remix culture challenge the status of intellectual property?

For your own artistic practice, do these evolving copyleft procedures have any value in helping you intervene in the mainstream culture? What are the political ramifications of this kind of "open source lifestyle"? Is it even possible that this kind of alternative approach to copyright and licensing could actually prove financially beneficial to a contemporary art practice? If yes, then how? If no, then why not?

Finally, how do the methods and techniques used by Baldwin in Tribulation 99, the culture jammers he features in Sonic Outlaws, and The Yes Men, connect or disconnect with your own current thinking on the way artists manipulate data to create an interventionist practice that jams with both conventional politics and the traditional media apparatus?

Quote from William Burroughs:

"A paranoiac is someone who has all of the facts at their disposal."

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Blog #1 : RIOT

Start your blog as outlined on the syllabus page.

Write a short introduction in your first blog entry and then in your second blog entry, return to the net art work RIOT and begin writing about the themes discussed in class.

Some basic questions:

Who is the artist? Napier? The web site visitor? The three net art visitors putting in the URLs? The designers or makers of the web pages?

What is the work of art? Is it the "idea" of RIOT that then gets executed according to instruction? The code-script that allows the collage to dynamically appear? The random and dynamic interface or data visualization of the collaged sites at any given time?

Here's my sound bite on it:

The WWW as collaboratively generated collage remix machine. AKA pla(y)giarism.
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to begin with

Miles Davis says:

"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."