Blogs Media Lab

#tbt lonelygirl: confessing online

Margot Lovejoy, Parthenia (1995)

The act of confessing has a history as long as the notion of secrets. Their histories wrap both societal and interpersonal dynamics, their forms changing as new revelations appear and values change. In this age of self-publishing on online social networks, confessing becomes as easy as rapidly typing and pressing post or send. Parthenia (1995), an adaweb project by Margot Lovejoy, was an online confessional for victims of domestic abuse. Although the concept of the Internet confessional was nothing new, this “monument” utilized and formalized the network to be presented as an instrument of change, a cyberfeminist public space to express without judgement that could heal and empower those voices that were not heard before.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.41.39 PM

Margot Lovejoy, Parthenia (1995)

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.35.45 PM

Margot Lovejoy, Parthenia (1995)

The promise of any new medium is that it will offer new possibilities for those that were previously disenfranchised or marginalized. However, there is a lot of research that shows that even the Internet, as disseminate and accessible as it is, just reinforces and codifies old patterns. Parthenia emphasizes this as it re-enacts domestic abuse support groups but then changes its relationship to the audience – rather than confessing to a specific group, confession occurs at a public level, amplifying its awareness and cathartic value. As a safe space, many of these responses are anonymous; even when a name is assigned there is no profile or identity associated to it. This artwork foretold many confessional websites of that Internet era such as PostSecret or Group Hug. These are ways we found to not be alone when in front of our computer terminal.

Killingjpeg

A post on PostSecret

Although confessing often benefits the confessor as a way to relieve feelings of guilt or anxiety, the confessee often benefits as such statements serve to create social bonds, enable similar relief or to extract reciprocal information. These projects illustrate the magnification of broadcast that the Internet has and that social movements can indeed be brought forward when the network itself is addressed. The network-as-confessee could reach an anonymous audience larger than those reading scribbles on bathroom walls.

However, in this post-Snowden era, when we confess on these platforms, we not only confess to our communities but know that we are also subjugated to governmental and corporate surveillance. There are real names or IP addresses tied to our confessions. It is not surprising that anonymous apps such as Secret did not last long as our confessions, intrinsically linked to our identities, have to be revealed in order to be monetized as digital labor. In the case of Whisper, another anonymous confessional app, they have trivialized their content and transformed them into memes and listicles, losing the intimate aspect of telling a secret. Not only the network, but the individual has changed as well: we curate our social media identities, some even to the point of imposter, utilizing the cape of code to send off false confessions in pursuit of gain. How can we trust anything or anyone online?

902554_4968246681885_867578299_o

Jill Magid, Failed States (2012)

A solution to this is going back to the basics: tribalism. Postmodernity has shifted identity from a fixed entity to one that is continually in process, evolving our ideas of shared interests and activities from simple tags (Tame Impala, art, Catholicism) to a more holistic approach. In a recent lecture by K-Hole, they said: “Once upon a time people were born into communities and had to find their individuality. Today people are born individuals and have to find their communities.” We are now individual individuals seeking like minded people. Instead of being born in a tribe, we now seek out and eventually find our tribe within a globalized public. From this tribalism, we can seek out mutual support and understanding, a safe space where we can enact confession, both given and received.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 4.41.56 PM

Rules for Cool Freaks’ Wikipedia Club

Dunbar’s number” is the theoretical limitation of the number of people that one can sustain social relations with. Robin Dunbar came up with the number 150, but this number is actually a starting point, following a “rule of three”: five is the limit for your intimate friends, 50 for your close friends, 150 for your casual friends, and 500 as your acquaintances. In Dorthy Howard’s recent Rhizome essay, “Feed my Feed: Radical publishing in Facebook Groups,” she argues that Facebook groups can produce “some exciting new ground as the smaller, granular levels of conversation become fodder for the public sphere.” These conversations can range from selfies to similar aesthetics to cybertwee to memes. Although she recognizes the irony in utilizing Facebook as a way of generating intimacy, Facebook has become our contemporary public. Private groups, with the recognition of Dunbar’s number, can entice a new tribalism in response to an ever-increasing unsafe and sousveilled environment, both online and off.

 

 

#tbt EVERYTHING HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT JENNY HOLZER

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 4.21.05 PM
Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 4.07.54 PM

Jenny Holzer, Please Change Beliefs (1995)

Jenny Holzer’s first public works, Truisms (1977–1979), seem to have been presaging contemporary Internet chatter, where tweets are restricted to 140 characters and sometimes the most complimented updates are those that are short but sweet. Her statements are attentive to both form and content, appearing poetic and digestible yet urgent and homiletic. They have been inscribed, projected, etched, electrically powered, carved, cast, screen-printed, and painted. The fluidity in her manipulation of physical mediums inverts the evolving landscape of public messaging by appropriating corporate, governmental, and advertising techniques to reveal contentious issues of the time. As information displays change, she is able to subsume and then imbue them with her take to irritate our environments dominated by impersonal text.

Jenny Holzer, Protect Me From What I Want, 1982

Jenny Holzer, Blue Cross, 2008

Jenny Holzer, Someone Wants To Cut A Hole In You And Fuck You Through It, Buddy, 2012

Holzer’s works range from the tangible (paper, marble) to the dynamic (billboard signs, LED columns) to the interactive. Although most of her work is static in its content, thus preserving its authoritative and authorless voice, she also delves in web based work. Her Twitter account currently has 53,000 followers, enabling others to retweet and thereby emphasize her Truisms. A lesser known work exists in Ada’web, an online art gallery acquired by the Walker in 1998. Titled Please Change Beliefs (1995), people enter the website with a single Truism presented to them, able to constantly click through to get another one. This predicted the proliferation of single-serving, aggregated, generative websites such as What The Fuck Should I Make For Dinner, This Is Less Of A, or even what would i say?.

However, what makes Please Change Beliefs unique is the ability for visitors to “improve or replace the truism.” These user-generated truisms then become part of the artwork, which inevitably looks like an anonymous Facebook account with a lot of caps-locked status updates. However, these posts are often not created arbitrarily—most truisms are “improved” instead of “replaced,” and since they are indexed alphabetically, a pattern starts to emerge: the verb and object in the statement is usually changed, whereas the subject stays the same. And in that very way, this work emphasizes that the public and its displays is undeniably tied with the nous of our subjectivity.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 4.04.23 PM

Jenny Holzer, Please Change Beliefs (1995)

 

 

#tbt Virtual Reality Sculpture Garden

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 3.53.39 PM

Robin Dowden, our beloved director of New Media, leaves the Walker today, and as she’s been cleaning house, she has also been rediscovering little gems of the past. With the initiation of our campus renovation, it seemed like an appropriate time to look back at this project that recreated the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in a virtual reality context back in the late ’90s.

Created in 1995, the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) served as a predecessor for the current web’s WebGL, which allows for 3D modeling and manipulation online. The VRML version of the Sculpture Garden allowed for a self-guided tour of the area, giving the ability the navigate wherever you wanted at your own pace, something relatively new in 1998. There were obvious limitations, such as not having the ability to recreate the actual sculptures in 3D—they are 2D image placeholders, but at the time, it was rare to surf the web as something other than the semblance of flipped pages.

 

You can also read more about this project in an interview between Steve Dietz, former director of New Media Initiatives, and the artists/engineers Marek Walczak and Remo Campopiano here.

Superscript Conference Transcript: James Bridle Keynote

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the keynote by UK-based artist, publisher, and writer […]

bridle910

James Bridle. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the keynote by UK-based artist, publisher, and writer James Bridle.

Download a PDF of the full conference transcript. To view videos of all Superscript panels and keynotes, or to read commissioned essays and live blogging by participants in the Superscript Blog Mentorship program (a partnership with Hyperallergic), visit the Superscript Reader. To report errors in this document, email superscript@walkerart.org.

(more…)

Superscript Conference Transcript: Ben Davis Keynote

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of critic Ben Davis’s keynote on “post-descriptive criticism.” Download […]

BenDavis

Ben Davis. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of critic Ben Davis’s keynote on “post-descriptive criticism.”

Download a PDF of the full conference transcript. To view videos of all Superscript panels and keynotes, or to read commissioned essays and live blogging by participants in the Superscript Blog Mentorship program (a partnership with Hyperallergic), visit the Superscript Reader. To report errors in this document, email superscript@walkerart.org.

(more…)

Superscript Conference Transcript: Credibility, Criticism, Collusion

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the conference-opening panel, Credibility, Criticism, Collusion, featuring short […]

Christopher Knight, Ryan Schreiber, Isaac Fitzgerald, Orit Gat

Christopher Knight, Ryan Schreiber, Isaac Fitzgerald, Orit Gat

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the conference-opening panel, Credibility, Criticism, Collusion, featuring short presentations followed by a group discussion with panelists Ryan Schreiber (Pitchfork), Orit Gat (WdW Review),  Christopher Knight (Los Angeles Times), and Issac Fitzgerald (Buzzfeed Books).

Download a PDF of the full conference transcript. To view videos of all Superscript panels and keynotes, or to read commissioned essays and live blogging by participants in the Superscript Blog Mentorship program (a partnership with Hyperallergic), visit the Superscript Reader. To report errors in this document, email superscript@walkerart.org.

(more…)

Superscript Conference Transcript: Sustainability, Growth, & Ethics

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the Sustainability, Growth and Ethics panel, featuring short […]

Susanna Schouweiler, Eugenia Bell, James McAnally, Carolina Miranda, Veken Gueyikian

Susanna Schouweiler, Eugenia Bell, James McAnally, Carolina Miranda, Veken Gueyikian

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the Sustainability, Growth and Ethics panel, featuring short presentations followed by a group discussion with panelists Veken Gueyikian (Hyperallergic), Eugenia Bell (Design Observer),  Carolina Miranda (Los Angeles Times), and James McAnally (Temporary Art Review), moderated by Mn Artists editor in chief, Susannah Schouweiler.

Download a PDF of the full conference transcript. To view videos of all Superscript panels and keynotes, or to read commissioned essays and live blogging by participants in the Superscript Blog Mentorship program (a partnership with Hyperallergic), visit the Superscript Reader. To report errors in this document, email superscript@walkerart.org.

(more…)

Superscript Conference Transcript: Connectivity and Community

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the Connectivity and Community panel, featuring short presentations […]

de2015SuperScript_ SuperScript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, May 28 - 30, 2015; Garden Cafe; Cinema. Lectures, Talks & Readings; Parties & Special Events.  Architecture/Design; New Media; Theater; Film; Literary Arts; Music; Visual Arts. SuperScript is a three-day conference that convenes an international array of thinkers to consider issues and questions about the brave new world of arts publishing in a digital age.  A gathering for writers, editors, artists, theorists, and curators in the thick of both the innovation game and the practical challenges of the still-evolving landscape of cultural publishing online. The conference is copresented by  the Walker Art Center and Mn Artists. Speakers and guests on May 30, 2015 include Fionn Meade, Paul Schmelzer, Claudia La Rocco, Ayesha Siddiqi, Alexander Provan, Brian Kuan Wood, Marisa Mazria-Katz, Dan Fox, Claire Evans, James Bridle.

Claudia La Rocco, Dan Fox, Alexander Provan, Ayesha Siddiqi

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the Connectivity and Community panel, featuring short presentations followed by a group discussion with panelists Claudia La Rocco (The Performane Club), Brian Kuan Wood (e-flux journal),  Alexander Provan (Triple Canopy), and Ayesha Siddiqi (New Inquiry).

Download a PDF of the full conference transcript. To view videos of all Superscript panels and keynotes, or to read commissioned essays and live blogging by participants in the Superscript Blog Mentorship program (a partnership with Hyperallergic), visit the Superscript Reader. To report errors in this document, email superscript@walkerart.org.

(more…)

Superscript Conference Transcript: Artists as Cultural First Responders

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the Artists as Cultural First Responders panel, featuring […]

Fionn Meade, Dan Fox, James Bridle, Marisa Mazria-Katz, Claire Evans

Fionn Meade, Dan Fox, James Bridle, Marisa Mazria-Katz, Claire Evans

From May 28–30, 2015, the Walker Art Center hosted Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference on cultural publishing’s current challenges and its possible futures. All sessions of the convening were transcribed live by a stenographer; below is an edited transcript of the Artists as Cultural First Responders panel, featuring short presentations followed by a group discussion with keynote speaker James Bridle, and panelists Marisa Mazria-Katz (Creative Time Reports), Dan Fox (frieze), and Claire Evans (Vice), moderated by the Walker’s Fionn Meade.

Download a PDF of the full conference transcript. To view videos of all Superscript panels and keynotes, or to read commissioned essays and live blogging by participants in the Superscript Blog Mentorship program (a partnership with Hyperallergic), visit the Superscript Reader. To report errors in this document, email superscript@walkerart.org.

(more…)

On Diversity and Localism at Superscript

Looking back on last weekend’s Superscript, we’re pleased that so much of what we intended with the conference came to fruition. We hosted an incredible array of thinkers who are daily engaged in innovating within digital arts media. We represented cultural platforms, large and small, which aspire to national and international reach with their online […]

Superscript 2015Looking back on last weekend’s Superscript, we’re pleased that so much of what we intended with the conference came to fruition. We hosted an incredible array of thinkers who are daily engaged in innovating within digital arts media. We represented cultural platforms, large and small, which aspire to national and international reach with their online projects. And we achieved a compelling mix on stage, bringing together voices from different disciplines, geographies, races, and perspectives to shed light on the conference’s central concerns. Superscript has been a rare and wonderful opportunity to bring an extraordinary group of people at the leading edge of online arts publishing to Minneapolis to speak, and we couldn’t be more grateful and pleased with how those conversations unfolded.

But we know that the mix on stage last week left out some key voices—a fact that we’ve heard online, in tweets, and in person at the conference itself. While we featured speakers of many backgrounds, there were no African American panelists on stage, and the only Twin Cities residents featured were Walker or Mn Artists staffers.

We take criticisms of the makeup of Superscript panels sincerely, as input for if and when we do this again (and we hope we do). And we’d like to underscore: the degree of racial diversity reflected on stage was not the result of a lack of awareness, personal investment, or effort, but due to far more mundane issues including, notably, scheduling conflicts with invited speakers. The choice to feature non-Minnesota panelists was just that, a choice. Our intention was to be a good host, to bring thinkers working far away—from LA to St. Louis, New York to the UK—to Minneapolis for our community to meet.

Did we make the right choices? Not sure. Is there room for improvement? Always. Given the enthusiastic response to this inaugural presentation of Superscript, we’re hopeful that we’ll have many more chances in the future to bring in topics and speakers less in evidence in this first iteration of the event. The thoughtful responses and critiques currently circulating in person and online around the conference sessions and its related essays and blog posts seem to us a very good place from which to launch these questions and conversations going forward.

In closing, we’d like to share a key part of our thinking about Superscript: it’s not just a conference for 300 people who could join us at the Walker for three days in May. We intend it to be an ongoing conversation sparked by a conference—and informing any future iterations of it. To this end, we strove for accessibility to the ideas presented and created a platform to expand the discussion and include more voices and vantage points. Our three-camera live webstream (made available online today) brought the conference, for free, to people all around the world. Our Superscript Blog Mentorship program—featuring a truly diverse group of emerging writers and arts editors—gave opportunity to new bloggers, while providing context to the conference for those not in attendance. And the Superscript Reader, the conference’s online editorial companion, is featuring an array of voices and topics not addressed on-stage, including, among others, An Xiao Mina writing on the ways artists can use the Internet within social movements, Art of the Rural’s Matthew Fluharty on how the Internet can help us draw a new map of the art world, and ARTS.BLACK’s Taylor Aldridge and Jessica Lynne’s consideration of privilege, race, and criticism, to name a few. We’re proud of those efforts, and we’re ever striving to do better.

We’re so grateful to all of you who have participated in Superscript, at the Walker, online, and in your own writing. And we’re eager to keep the conversation going to make Superscript—the conference and the discussion that surrounds it—even better.

Next