Friday, May 2, 2008

towards a counterforces online journal

The sheer volume of responses to Daniel Canogar’s appearance in Atlanta have been of great interest.

One hopeful sign has been the recognition of Canogar’s sources in terms of his dazzling but semi-derivative pieces. The operative word being “semi,” since Canogar’s level of innovation is praiseworthy in any case.

Bloggers recognized early on that his most interesting innovation comes in the fiber optic pieces, splendidly klugy (I am so pleased to have had the engineering term “kluge” handed to me in the past week…to signify an interim, cobbled-together technical solution that works well enough for the job intended, sort of like what Claude Levi-Strauss meant by his adaptation of the French term bricolage).

Canogar’s Photoshopped piles of accumulated crap derive from the various photos of Chinese and Third World stacks of recyclable electronics and from various recent projects that involve metaphors that make visible the sheer quantity of waste generated by late industrial society. But it takes skill to Photoshop that well without having the seams show when the digital photos are enlarged to that degree. (I myself, a bricoleur devotee of the interim solution, probably spent hours blurring thin lines of pixels when there is one tool that would fix the seam problem, but I see enough poorly resolved solutions, the artfully blurry image included, that a job well done is worth celebrating.)

Incidentally, I was intrigued by the news that the popular imagination, on the level of the art-ignorant public, now reads analog photography as unacceptably soft-focus. Is it really true that folks on Flickr prefer the saturated shades of color associated with the Canon digital camera? I don’t waste a lot of time reading comments on such sources, but historians of cultural history need to do so and apparently do.

Canogar’s climbing/crawling video projections in buildings made me realize with pleasure that the genre has come a long way since those gee-whiz days when one still image projected for hours on the side of one bujilding was enough to keep people mesmerized for hours. Then we had versions that were not much better than showing a movie on a blank brick wall, such as alternative spaces in Atlanta have done for decades. Now the genre has grown up, proving once again that it is not the technology that matters, it is the quality of imagination of the user. And the imagination is not a matter of originality but of the ability to see what is being done globally and adapting it adroitly to local circumstances.

It is the “adroitly” part as well as the “local circumstances” part that is the basis of what I like to call the counterforces aesthetic. It needs to be original by virtue of the adaptation to the locale and to local traditions and materials; it needs to be adroit by virtue of the skill and intelligence of the maker. And it needs to be mistaken easily for provincial by the forces of globalizing culture.

And as for local circumstances when it comes to blogs? The links among the growing number of art blogs in Atlanta alone suggest a model for a semi-edited coordination of effort.

Each blogger could (but need not) invite other bloggers to post guest essays on their sites. For few outside the blogging community have the time to read ALL those blogs on all those different blog host sites.

But even easier would be a simple variation on the currently next to useless collective blogs.

Start ONE MORE BLOG that had a very simple ground rule.

Akin to Arts & Letters Daily, it would be an anthology of Atlanta blogs.

Each post would be something that one blogger or another found of particular value or interest on someone else's Atlanta blog. It could be posted with commentary.

But the one rule would be that NO ONE COULD POST THEIR OWN ORIGINAL PIECE. A piece could only be posted if someone else who writes regularly about Atlanta art found that the piece contributed to the dialogue in a way they found interesting.

And the blogger posting the anthology piece could only comment in the comments box, like everybody else.

Theoretically, two best friends could continually post each other's blogs in their entirety, but that could be handled by a simple rule: three nuanced favorable comments by arm's length members of the community would be required if a dispute arises over someone's right to post to the publication. Collective editorial responsibility.

I know that discussions of nomadism and of deconstructed networks are, like, so 1980s, but that doesn't mean that the model itself is out of date. By contrast, it appears to be coming into its own.


Anonymous said...

I truly believe that we have reached the point where technology has become one with our world, and I am 99% certain that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory decreases, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could encounter in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i[/url] DS NetBlog)

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