Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet

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Olga Goriunova gave a stunning presentation a few weeks ago at the PARGC 2016 Symposium, Convergence and Disjuncture in Global Digital Culture. It was called Idiot, Lurker, Troll: Conceptual Personae in Digital Media and it got me looking up her work. Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet (2012) does not disappoint. In it Goriunova provides a new way of looking at how cultural forms on the Internet are developed. To this end she deploys the concept of “art platforms” which does a lot of heaving lifting throughout the book. I’ve pulled a few excerpts from the Introduction that tease out what she means by it. This book is part of the  Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies which has a lot of other great titles though, sadly, they all have the same cover designs (less work for artists).

from INTRODUCTION: Departing from an Art Platform

“…Everyday digital objects, gestures, and the assemblages, such as file uploads and downloads, form filling, data handling, searches and postings, protocols, scripts, software structures, and modification parameters are all plugged in to contemporary aesthetics and coconstruct the ways in which the individual, cultural, and social spheres are produced, organized, and disrupted. Art platforms both conform to and are part of this overall development, but they also stand out from it in very striking ways.

…an art platform can be a stand-alone website that, together with other actors, forms an ecology of aesthetic production, but might also take place as a subconnection of a large platform, or even as a space between a corporate service, artists’ work, hacking, collaborative engagement, and a moment of aesthetic fecundity. An art platform engages with a specific current of technosocial creative practices and aims at the amplification of its aesthetic force.

…As a process of emergence, an art platform is an assemblage of structures, notes, codes, ideas, emails, decisions, projects, databases, excitement, humour, mundane work, and conflict. Here an art platform is best understood through the metaphor of a railway platform, as an element that unfolds in its arriving and departing trains, in tracks that cover vast spaces, in the forests those rails run through and the lakes they pass by, in the hills and sunsets forming the landscape, in the rain on the train’s window, in the mechanics of an engine, logistics of rolling stock, semaphores, encounters, but it is a resonance, a movement, an operation. The capillaries of aesthetic emergence in art platforms draw from the technical materiality of networks, databases, and software; from grass-roots, folklore creativity; from forces of repetition and sociality; from conflictual border zones and disjuctures between normality, capitalism, politics, quotidian labour and despair, escape, and creation.”  –pp. 1, 2, 3

February CommQuote

cliveMathew Ryan Smith in afterimage: THE JOURNAL OF MEDIA ARTS AND CULTURAL CRITICISM (Volume 45, Number 3) interviews Toronto-based artist Clive Holden, who creates digital paintings, web works, and videos by “combining new digital technologies with lo-fi analog formats.”  His latest project called Internet Mountains is ongoing (2014-present). In it he incorporates found digital objects from the World Wide Web with moving imagery to create surreal landscapes.  Here is a snippet from the issue’s feature piece, Climbing ‘Internet Mountains’: A Conversation with Clive Holden.” (pp. 8-9)

MRS: The video work INTERNET MOUNTAINS Video 3 (2015) is set against an opened book representing a mountainscape with a small cabin in the foreground. Rose-colored orbs, white sunspots, and blue arrows sometimes pulsate and at other times dart across the visual field. Can you talk about the relationship between these forms and the found imagery in your video works?

 CH: That video shares a photo background with my digital painting INTERNET MOUNTAINS #18 (2014) – a scan of an open book from an online archive. The strong vertical of the book’s spine is important to both works, along with the reflected scanner shine. These show the nature of the book as an object, and the moment the new image was born during the scanner’s process. Both echo and subvert the strong illusion of depth in the original photo.  This illusion is extended by the graphic illustration objects that float throughout the skybox’s described 3-D space. The original photo is from the Rockies in Montana and visiting there at the time would have been a rare experience. Adding the digital graphic objects helps to highlight the strange beauty of that original landscape.

 MRS: These works have a surrealistic quality to them. They’re both here and otherworldly. Do you see these as surrealistic or is it something else entirely?

 CH: The protest and humor at the heart of Dada and surrealism still shows up in the dichotomy between the commodification of conservative art processes, and the always shifting forms that are striving to maintain artistic independence. A dichotomy at work in INTERNET MOUNTAINS also lies between the conservative nature of landscape art and the changing sight of digital, geometric forms engaging in mock battle. I’m glad you’ve used the term “otherworldly,” because while making INTERNET MOUNTAINS Video 3 I found myself adding multiple suns to the sky one day, and that term popped up. I did know that multiple suns was a science fiction trope. But I read recently that it’s been proven to be nonfictional – in fact, it might be more common than our single-sun solar system.