Ba (Hons) Fine Art
Hyperproduction in relation to Young Internet Based Art
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
List of Illustrations
1. Personal Image by author, Porn Shop, 2007. Digital Collage.
2. Personal Image by author, The Artist as Brand, 2013. Jpeg file.
3. Angela Washko, Tits on Tits on Ikea, 2013. Screenshot of Vine, Collection of Myriam Vanneschi, Available at: https://vine.co/v/bdugbvxYtYO
4. Parker Ito, America Online Made Me Hardcore, 2013. Image of Screenprint, Available at Limited Works: http://www.limitedworks.com/product/parker-ito-america-online-made-me-hardcore
5. Transistor Count and Moore's Law, Wikipedia Diagram(uploaded by Wgsimon), 2011. Jpeg File. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law
6. Anonymous, Share Icon, Jpeg File. Available at: http://dangrigor.com/media/blogs/H/icons/share_this_icon.png?mtime=1339375673
7. Aaron Graham, Horizon, 2013. Screenshot of Images taken from TheJogging Archive. Available at: http://thejogging.tumblr.com/archive
8. Jonas Lund, The Fear of Missing Out, 2013. Exhibition View. Photos by Lotte Stekelenburg and Bob Goedewaagen. Available at: http://jonaslund.biz/works/the-fear-of-missing-out/
9. Chris Anderson, The Long Tail Effect, 2006. Jpeg File. Available at: http://blog.hubpages.com/2008/10/the-long-tail-of-hubpages/
10. Ryder Ripps, HyperCurrentLiving, 2013. Screen of Web Brower View. Available at: http://hypercurrentliving.com/
11. Google Search Result, Make money online free now, 2013. Jpeg File. Available at: http://freeonlinebusiness.net/
12. Personal Image by Author, Terms of Service, 2013. Screenshot of Video. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLHOC53-kwFOMLKrXwzQe8PAaFxXxbubtT&v=7WbdoCUy5Zk
1991 saw rise of the World Wide Web; giving birth to a new form of communication, bringing with it the potential for mass-collaboration and sharing of knowledge. Today the Internet dominates the lives of many in the western world, from starting up businesses to selling old junk. It seems as though it has become instinctual to reject old methods in place of proposed new ones. Whilst few in the West might still feel detached from these online networks; a third of the worlds population is now connected to the web.1 This will only continue to grow as further globalization enables developing countries to connect; expanding the networked community and enabling future generations to adapt to this new way of life. The Internet is not a specific place but a deeply infiltrated net of metadata that will inevitably integrate man and object. Imagery becomes the visual symbols, brands and codes used as a language for interpreting the culture of society today.
We are now starting to see the first generations of digitally native practitioners who have grown up during these past two decades. Creating the content that we are now almost all guilty of consuming, Artists work as contributors to the platform in which culture is now elegantly proposed. Social communication and knowledge industries have created a paradigm shift into the Information age. New circuits of communication have destroyed the separation between production and consumption. The Prosumer (P,Schultz: 2005)2 now lives and works on the Internet - networking, collaborating and delivering content to a global audience.
Growing up with access to a personal computer from an early age gave me the opportunity to adventure into the unknown, naively accessing and downloading content through peer-to-peer file sharing software. I remember the first time I downloaded a file; admittedly it was stuff to fill my virtual house on the Sims. Ironically technology now enables us to download and print useful objects for our real homes3. I quickly realized the capabilities of accessing music, films and games for free. The question of legality never really crossed my mind. The later realization that I could download software for free was revolutionary; I became a LimeWire pirate and downloaded the full Macromedia Studio at fourteen, allowing me to digitize the work I was making away from keyboard. This uncensored ‘new’ platform allowed me to interact and create content; that I uploaded to sites and forums simply for the fun of doing it (See Figure 1). Initially I began to engage and socialize of sites such as DeviantArt, Flickr and Myspace. The question of quality is not relevant at this point; more the act of learning through experience. It is only in hindsight that I see how these early online experiences have led me to the work I make now. I was innocently exploring a system of information that was still being refined. This attitude towards making and uploading has now become inherent to my practice as a content maker.
Responding to the plethora of visual culture and allowing work to be formed using found materials both online and off. Dependent on how the individual chooses to interact determines the quality of the information that can be gained. The utilitarian uses the machine to better their way of life most effectively. This insidious nature of online distraction can become detrimental to a future of productive internet users towards a mass of passive consumers. The misrepresentation of reality can cause confusion amongst a society of spectators. However, a wealth of highly useful knowledge can also be freely retrieved from essays, books, documentaries facilitated through online academic archives. This material is shared for free; in effect creating a global public library that bypasses the financial and physical costs of producing a hard copy. Lawrence Lessig’s definition of culture highlights the two opposites of commercial and sharing, reappropriating Read-Only and Read-Write to the laws of visual culture.4 This re-addressing of copyright has arisen from the desire to use online materials in the same way that a sculptor might form an object from clay or plaster. If an image becomes representative of an idea; the use of that imagery for creative purposes should be termed appropriately.
Understanding the role of the artist as content maker reflects our current times in which we are now all mass-consumers of information. The rematerialization of Art online; creates new structures of defining value in a work. Blogs become live journals that allow the artist to explain their practice through a language of visual symbols. I choose to make work in a public arena as it allows for me to connect to a global audience. Materials form the basis for new ideas; whilst new ideas allow for the creation of new materials. The artist still remains connected to a community of others however the network is no longer local but international. If I make works with the primary viewing experience existing on the Internet; can it be classed as public art?
"Tumblr reminds a
little bit of some of the “gangs” I use to make in ‘85. When I taped together
nine “slides” and gave them to my lab. (They’d make an inter-negative and print
it up into a huge photograph… 50X86”). I could have nine photographs on one
piece of paper instead of nine photographs hanging on a wall. I could have a
whole show in one frame.
The first time I saw Tumblr I saw it on my daughter’s computer. I said, “what’s that”? She had organized a bunch of photos according to color. As she scrolled down I was reminded about how I use to look at hundreds of slides on my custom made giant light box. What I was looking at and what I was remembering wasn’t that different. The next question I asked her was, “whose images were those and did you have to ask “permission” to use them”. She looked at me like I was the “man from Mars”. “Permission”? “For what”? (That’s my girl)… Her looking at me sideways for asking about “copyright” backed-up my position about published photographs… there’s “no right, no wrong” when it comes to copying from the wide wide world of photolandia…Just like I’ve always said… “It’s a free concert from now on”."(R, Prince: 2013)5
Whilst publishing ‘free’ content online through a corporation’s free service; blogging sites such as Tumblr maintain reputation as free platforms for encouraging creative individuals. All of the content shared is effectively ‘free’ as it becomes apart of a global database of images; building an archive of information that might possibly change the course of history.
In 1975, the total cost of purchasing the tools used to create digital artworks would have cost around £50,0006. In 2002, this price tag had dropped to around £1,500. Today Apple’s iPhone costs around £500 and has 932,000 times the processing power of the system onboard Apollo 11 launched in 1969.7 The release of the Raspberry Pi at £25 marks a landmark for open-source technologies. With double the processing power of the iPhone 4 it openly democratizes the possibilities for future generations to build upon. The benefits of open source allow the user to educate themselves with the machine functions; starting from the ground up as opposed to purchasing an overpriced prebuilt device. The question of efficiency over quality continues to hide elements of the production process as the user outsources skills to the machine. Writing became typing. Human intelligence deteriorates whilst technology becomes smarter. However I think there is also a relevancy for artists to push the boundaries of what the tools of the masses are capable of producing outside of their everyday function. The technology determines the society of the time through its traceable influences on culture and politics. Melvin Kranzberg, a professor who studies the history of technology created six rules that defines technology, the first of these being;
“Technology is neither good or bad, nor is it neutral.”(M, Kranzberg: 1986)8
As technology has become more essential to the work I make; I have begun to wonder if through humanities innate desire to consume, digital technologies were just the next evolutionary step.
As the global population increases, finding effective ways in securing the intellectual property of individuals becomes crucial if we are to allow such instantaneous networks to exist.
It seems almost impossible to me to ignore the relevance of responding to a culture that’s captured more than a third of the world’s population. This change in how we now socialize and communicate enhances the capability to share ideas amongst a network of others; slowly replacing the physical communication of networking. Peer-to-Peer critique through online platforms allows for otherwise impossible relationships to form on a much larger global scale – faster, cheaper and easier than ever before. We now live in a time when Artists working online; must succumb to the powers of Social Media. The instantaneous nature of being constantly connected allows for communication with others amongst the global village9 24/7 (M, McLuhan:1967). If the Internet never sleeps, then the gallery never closes.
Hyperproduction in relation to Young Internet Based Art
Over the past four decades; the increased use of digital technologies has been seen to optimize the process of both producing and consuming. The representation of things in an oversaturated image society creates an attitude of overproduction and overconsumption. The hybridization of cultures has become a symptom of a globalizing world; dominated by Westernization. If mechanical efficiency is better than the human interaction with physical objects; were does the role of the artist as cultural facilitator, fit into this new economic framework?
“The genes hold consumer culture on a leash” (G.Saad: 2011)1
Throughout evolution the westernized human mind has developed a biological consumer instinct where material objects stand for symbols of social status. Most living in a developed society no longer have the necessity to collect the basic human resources (shelter, energy) necessary for survival; and so acquire the time to collect and share objects, that act as anchors into our identity. Through possession the possibility of enlightenment allows us to learn, to share and to discard. Economic Materialism detaches humanity from the physical costs of the production process; effecting our material value of such consumer culture.
This evolved set of tendencies has brought us to a time when the finite amounts of resources we have left; raise the question of durability in the current economic system. How long can we sustain an economy based on the conspicuous consumption of things? Reassessment of the current definition of Materialism is necessary in understanding where the value now lies.
Joshua Simon defines this re-evaluation as Neomaterialism, suggesting that the past four decades have witnessed the dematerialization of things. Money becomes currency, commodities become brand names and art practices become highly conceptualized; each exemplifies a new order of how materials become abstract things.
‘There is a material inside all materials. There is a spirit that operates them and makes them be. In this civilization; this materiality inside all materials is the commodity nature of things.’ (J, Simon: 2012)2
This premise for Neomaterialism does not render Materialism obsolete; instead acts as a starting point in understanding what materialism actually is. In Post-Industrial Capitalism; outsourcing labour becomes the norm, allowing for more focus on marketing and brand management. The vanishing focus on production shifts to securing global consumption is maintained.
According to InternetWorldStatistics (Last updated June 2012) 34.3% of the world’s population is now connected to the Internet; 12% of which now have accounts on Facebook. 3 Google’s Eric Schmidt predicts that by 2020, the Internet User penetration figures will have reached 75-80% in most developed countries.4 In the digital economy; the images we subscribe to become symbols within online societies; portraying our identity to others online. ‘We live in Public’ (J, Harris: 2000)5 could be understood as the dematerialization of an identity into metadata. The way an individual appears online is often different to their appearance in real life. Collecting and sharing Art with others, portrays a level of cultural understanding whilst also enabling the future production to be maintained. Similar to the Wiki mentality, a more sustainable and streamlined self-managed marketplace might help connect artists with collectors; allowing the preservation of culture in a dematerializing world. Online Marketplaces already exist for such artists; acting as rematerialized museums and galleries. S[edition]Art and Availableworks.net are two platforms that enable consumer to become collector; buying and selling editions amongst the audience. The image now becomes a form of international currency (D, Joseltiz:2013). 6
This correlation between Art as private property and the digital economy; questions the role of the contemporary artist in creating financially viable content to be exchanged within the Internet economy.
Angela Washko’s ‘Tits on Tits on
Ikea’ (2013) (See Figure 3) was
the first vine sold as video art earlier this year at #SVAES (Shortest Video
Art Ever Sold).7 Myriam Vanneschi purchased
Washko’s Vine for $200 and allows it to remain in the public mediasphere. The
artist receives a small fee for creating the content; which is then liberalized
across the net instead of being taken down and stored as a luxury commodity on
Vanneschi’s personal storage device. The rules of high and low art no longer
relate in this circumstance. The significance of accepting digital art into the
current art market; reflects not only a change in legitimizing new art practices,
but also a shift in where our cultural values are being created. If Picasso had
an iPhone; would we dismiss his works as mere coffee
break doodles? If anyone can materialize a work of art anywhere, anytime, does
the formation of the concept replace the need for technical finesse?
Whilst the Internet enables the individual with a wider knowledge base; the depth of this understanding is much shallower. We now know less about more – a symptom of our engagement with the new format of the knowledge economy. The creation of apps such as Vine, Snapchat and Twitter; all have limitations on the amount of information that can be input and shared. In a sense, acting as a symbol of this curbed intelligence, with a time restraint on the record button and the nature of unnecessarily overproducing – record, post, repeat. Whilst the oversimplification of knowledge allows it become easier to digest, the long terms effects of over simplifying the image only induces the rate of consumption further.
In the art world, Artists have responded to image saturation within society since the 1960s. Creating a population of images rather than inventing single works. Andy Warhol was the pioneer of overproduction; his ‘Factory’ produced numerous paintings using silkscreen-printing processes, engineering a production line of art instead of individual artifacts. Whilst Warhol was one of the first self-proclaimed ‘business artists’ he gained attention through exploiting the mass media as a tool. Responding by producing films, music, advertising and performances he allowed the artist to become a celebrity. Warhol’s style now saturates throughout culture, still being reappropriated by advertising firms and other contemporary artists. Since then, the technology to produce artworks even faster has enabled the implementation of programmatical production techniques into digital formats.
An artist responding to this notion of overproduction is Parker Ito. (See Figure 4) Ito does not call himself a net artist as he thinks it limits his art to a mere product of an environment. Ito describes himself as a YIBA (Young-Internet Based Artist); a producer of ideas that respond or explore the Internets affect on traditional perceptions of art objects. Ito also goes by the pseudonym Parker Cheeto8, when creating work he thinks fits into that Net Art bracket. At the core of Ito’s work we see how art, persona and the power of self-representation online, reflect the lifestyle of constant connection. The artist now lives and works on the Internet, working in collaboration and response to the social network of others online. Creating an online persona turns the artist into a brand, turning the content they produce into a digital stream of works.
“The Apparatus will be better the more consumers it brings in contact with the production process – in short, the more readers or spectators it turns into collaborators” (W, Benjamin)
Today’s media networks represent our current state of evolution formed by the lineage of machine technologies. With each progression we see its effect on society. Pit Schultz essay on ‘The Producer as Power User’9 is an expansion on Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Author as Producer’; defining the paradigm shift between Industrialism to Informationalism. Schultz defines the Prosumer; as an intermediary between Professional and Amateur, in the changing world of work, the classical opposition between production and consumption can no longer be separated. As new circuits of communication allow the privileged user to become the hyper-prosumer; we become constant producers of data, leaving digital footprints of our consumed information. Over time; problems surrounding Intellectual Property have begun to surface as we become more aware of the effects that this immortal digital history is having on the user. The velocity of media consumption merges popular culture and contemporary art through the phenomena of the spectacle. It is through over saturation – the status of being everywhere at once rather than belonging to a single place – that now produces value for and through images (John L and J, Comaroff: 2009).10
In 1965, Intel’s Co-Founder Gordon E. Moore published a paper on the long-term trend of computer hardware; (See Figure 5) stating that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated 1” circuit build; doubles every twenty-four months. This exponential growth over time dramatically increases the usefulness of the machine as the speed at which we can transfer data increases, taking effect on every segment of the world’s economy. Advancements in nanotechnology; now allow cheaper production costs of faster and smaller consumable devices. These devices act as a temporary tool aiding the ephemeral consumption of knowledge. This idea known as Augmented reality; is no longer a science fiction fantasies as Google Glass is scheduled for release onto the consumer market by 2015.
Entering post-industrialization, the capabilities of this power push boundaries far beyond our current understanding of Material value. Understanding that the digitalization of technologies has now rematerialized these old technologies through integrated global networks. What does it say about a society when the once placed value of the physical worth of CDs and books, is transferred to a single device that can be accessed anywhere in the palm of our hand? The value of the knowledge instilled upon the user, now outweighs the necessity to consume the physical object. When it becomes not only quicker, but also cheaper and faster to engage with the hybridized means of prosumption, what is to say that we should dismiss this new form as wrong? If the possibility to hyperproduce exists; surely the ability to create ‘works’ faster than the speed of light diminishes any sense of reflection and deeper understanding. This sport-like relationship to hyperproduction within contemporary art was coined Athletic Aesthetics, by artist and writer Brad Troemel.
“Athletic aesthetics are a by-product of art’s new mediated environment, wherein creators must compete for online attention in the midst of an overwhelming amount of information. Artists using social media have transformed the notion of a “work”from a series of isolated projects to a constant broadcast of one’s artistic identity as a recognizable, unique brand.” (B, Troemel : 2013)11
The digital artisan becomes athlete through their constant determination to create content at an every faster rate. Efficiency beats quality in the race to produce. If the artist is seen to be the cultural producer, the overproduction of ideas reflects the new generation of avid digital consumers. This notion of an instantaneous engagement with material (data) is nothing new. In 1976, Marshall McLuhan related these ideas on rejecting contemplative thought to our mental engagement within sports.
“At the speed of light there is no sequence; everything
happens at the same instant. That’s acoustic. Everything happens at once,
there’s no continuity, there’s no connection, there’s no follow through, its’
just all now – and that by the way is the way any sport is – eh? ”(M,
McLuhan: The Tomorrow Show,1976)12
In a social environment built on the basis of ‘I post, therefore I am’ (P,Schultz: 2005); whoever speaks the loudest; is heard most clearly. The volume of each post is dependent on the amount of likes or shares it receives, increasing the velocity of the image whilst additional credibility is given to those who post more frequent. Could this also be seen as the gammification of Art? As in sport, the more you practice the more refined your process becomes. The athlete now has five million subscribers; allowing their followers to be constantly engaged with their training progress. When an Image explodes; its proliferation across the web becomes unpredictable. (D,Joselit: 2013) Fresh content attains virality as it is shared throughout our daily newsfeeds. Every reblog; creates a new copy – | becomes || (See Figure 6.) The more we are made aware of an image; the more we know it exists. However, the truth-value produced from these social environments is questionable. If anyone can freely create and share units of cultural information; how does the consumer determine a level of quality control? Or have we already surrendered this privilege when creating the hated Facebook account?
First coined by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976); A meme is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”.13 Internet Memes now reflect the absurdity of Internet cultures. Often read from top to bottom; Internet memes are designed to control the gaze of the viewer. Our reaction is short lived and denies time for contemplative response. We consume and scroll on. This also reflects on the dysfunctional and sporadic nature of the degrading attention span. Memes are not created for financial gain; as they reflect Lessig’s ‘fair use’ read-write culture. Memes become a symbol for freedom of speech whilst dismissing any copyright law. When global news breaks; memes appear as fast as the news itself. As the meme evolves through continuous online social communication; the original idea mutates and sets off in a new direction.
Comparing data to the formation of a waves in the ocean - as new information rolls through social networks, images that respond to current affairs ride along the #trending wave. Often in mimicry; the production of ‘true’ information is subsidized by instant gratification and the virality of the image. When hunting for truth; we make judgments based on the surrounding framework (site, author). Wikipedia is an exemplary form of collated cultural knowledge; updated and edited at almost real-time by its users for free. Wiki represents an effective example of how crowdsourcing data can work to the benefit of everyone. The decentralized workforce democratizes the tools of prosumption whilst creating dependence on a faux path to liberation.
Being able to connect at almost real-time on a global scale, increases the need for speed as the digital economy overtakes and compresses the current economic paradigm. Questioning our current understanding of material and the current model of consumption through Art is exercised on the site The Jogging.14 Created in 2008 by Brad Troemel and Lauren Christiansen, the site began as a Tumblr of ‘artworks’, using found images online, photoshopped together and labeled (title, date, medium, and author); representative of the formal museum gallery format. Allowing open submission, Artists submit images that often question the validity of the medium and the necessity to physically realize a ‘work’. Decontextualizing an object from the physical world further questions the value of materiality and where the value of the ‘art’ is stored. (B, Troemel:2013) As an arena for presenting ideas; greater works succeed through their ability to attract more likes and reblogs, prescribing value based on the virality of the image. In a sense, submitting ‘works’ and getting them published is only the first hurdle; it then becomes open to the global audience of followers that determine the popularity of the work.
Referring back to the meme; Authors that submit to the Jogging often create images that respond to popular previous posts. The genetic inheritance of the dominant species is passed on through the evolution of imagery. The stronger; more popular images gain power through the audiences’ engagement and speed to respond. An example of a meme in action is Aaron Graham’s Horizon (July, 2013) (See Figure 7.) Graham questions the true relationship between the natural horizon and the straightness of Photoshop’s polygon lasso tool. Whilst also exploring the new capabilities of the software; Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill now recognizes the area you have selected and predicts what should be there. Working from imagery found online; Graham simply replaces anything above the horizon line. When the initial work was uploaded to the jogging, it created a quick response from others; as people replicated the aesthetic of the image mutating and reappropriating the meme through new works.
The lifespan of a meme is unpredictable and lasts for as long as the audience remains entertained, whilst simultaneously becoming immortalized in the Internets archive. The instantaneous nature of growth enabled through Internet culture; eradicates any prolonged period of thought. The Aesthlete has no time to reflect whilst sprinting forward. This idea suggests we have reached a Post-ism period? Memes exist, peak then crash; only to become apart of the language of culture – the recycling of data/matter to create something new at a later date.
However, anomalies arise when works of lesser quality unexpectedly go viral; whilst the unseen masterpiece washes over the accidental audience. The mass’ consumption supplies the demand for more easily accessible memes. Overproduction creates oversimplification as the means of distribution enable faster connection. As consumers we must take responsibility and readdress our actions if we are to protect human intellectual property. To an extent; a level of finesse is required in crafting an image that questions the viewers ability to detect a forged sense of authenticity. Extending Baudrillard’s definition of hyperreality as an understanding of determining the real; the ability to decipher images from disguised commodities becomes clouded. When it comes to the production of digital files as ‘artworks’; how do we determine a hierarchy of cultural value when the sense of authorship and authenticity is lost through their ability to be spread freely across an online platform?
In the current Internet economy; a large majority of users naively accept the exchange of data as a byproduct of interacting with the machine. Securing anonymity online still remains a technical challenge to the average user and starts to become an inescapable deterrent when the machine begins to predict what the consumer wants to consume. Amazon now predicts similar products to that you’ve just bought through algorithms and access to patterns found in global consumer datasets. What happens when we are led to believe we are granted access to infinite choice? The consumer is placed within a moment of social chaos.
This infinite amount of free resources (images/data) becomes an advantage to the artist working online. The artist interprets the visual language from within the online culture having the ability to create infinite possibilities of works. This idea can be seen in Jonas Lund’s Exhibition ‘The Fear of Missing Out’ (2013) (See Figure 8). The title derived from a social network induced anxiety condition; a symptom the Aesthlete attains from slowing production and disconnection in a rapidly moving world. Young Internet Based Artists today reflect an in-between stage of net art, when the ability to ‘switch off’ still remains an option. The premise of Lund’s exhibition proposes that it is possible to be one step ahead of the art world by using well-crafted algorithms and computational logic. After analyzing and categorizing a wide range of the most successful contemporary artworks, Lund’s algorithm then generated sets of instructions to be materialized as artworks. This algorithmic process of idea generation questions authenticity, talent, and creativity within contemporary art today as the dependency on the machine becomes ever more addictive. In a sense; the physical materialization of works creates commodities, which in turn only allows for them to become private property. Galleries and Museums act as ‘Image Banks’ (D,Joselit:2013); highly guarding art’s value whilst allowing public display. Exclusivity helps the current art market sustain value; hence the regulation of photography in most of these situations. How does this transpire within the digital economy in relation to Internet based artists overproducing ‘work’?
Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproducibility’ (W, Benjamin: 1936) has become a barrier for understanding art within the context of today. Written not far off a century ago, Benjamin’s model for explaining the reproducibility of the of an artwork has become outdated as the ability to circulate infinite populations of images, is now accessible to all at the tip of their fingers. The Internet unburdens the artwork from any specific attachment to place through the loss of the aura. The Image becomes a lightweight reproduction of the original. Benjamin’s awareness of the dislocation of Images comes into fruition as images become apart of a network where site-specificity becomes impossible.
‘The Long Tail’ published by Chris Anderson(See Figure 9); explains the economics behind how our culture has been affected by the radically increasing accessibility to online networks, lowering the cost of production and distribution of material.15 Allowing for new niche markets to become available. The iPod killed the radio as the Internet killed the television. The radio adapted by increasing the release of podcasts to allow for personalized listening experiences; just as smart television’s now offers a personalized viewing experience through multiple on-demand content providers. The importance of this shift is the dramatic change away from the physical consumption of products; whilst the amount of choice in what we consume increases. In 2013, the bitcoin boom echoed the idea of intangible commodities becoming favored over physical value. Were as the price of currency once depended on the physical reserves of a commodity (gold/silver), cryptocurrencies are based on an understanding between users that the amount traded is worth a certain amount of goods or services in the physical world. The numbers only have value because we believe they have value. The production of value now becomes abstract. Why hang a Warhol on your kitchen wall for ten years; when you could curate a selection of digital artworks in its place? The ability to personalize every aspect of our lives; simultaneously liberates and enslaves us.
The decline of Blockbuster and HMV earlier this year;
demonstrates the rematerializing of visual culture under the reign of iTunes,
Netflix and Youtube as leading content providers.
Both ownership and authorship of the property are hijacked by the centralized
power of multinational data-storage giants. The physical boundaries of storage
space that once limited the consumer; now become unlimited as the centralized
powers offer an endless supply of goods online. Harold A. Innis considers the "significance of communication to the rise and decline of cultural
traits" in The Bias of Communication(1951).
“A medium of communication has an important influence on the dissemination of knowledge over space and over time and it becomes necessary to study its characteristics in order to appraise its influence in its cultural setting. According to its characteristics it may be better suited to the dissemination of knowledge over time than over space, particularly if the medium is heavy and durable and not suited to transportation, or to the dissemination of knowledge over space than over time, particularly if the medium is light and easily transported. The relative emphasis on time or space will imply a bias of significance to the culture in which it is imbedded.” (H.A.Innis: 1951)16
The western world now characterized by instantaneous communication and overproduction; the efficiency of transporting data at phenomenal speeds begins to affect the minds relationship to absorbing and retaining knowledge. Social Media allows us to search and connect at almost real time. A blog post or news article published online; has far smaller production and distribution costs than printing a magazine or newspaper. This optimized form of communication allows individuals the opportunity to continuously self-educate through a hunger for information. The stream of information creates an endorphic rush to produce and publish content; in fear of not catching the wave. Aesthletics turn contemporary art into sport.
Ryder Ripps ‘HyperCurrentLiving’(2013) (See Figure 10) embodies a streamlined approach to internet based art production. Ripps’ week long performance was sited at a temporary studio space built in the Los Angeles based Red Bull Music Academy. Sporting a karate suit embellished with Red Bull themed graphics, Ripps embeds the idea of hyper-performance through the Aesthlete’s costume used to train and perform. He consumed 38 cans of Red Bull and generated 286 new ideas for artworks and online projects, whilst the audience remained updated via live web stream and twitter feed. The project endorsed by Red Bull, symbolizes the substance that aids the modern mode of production.
“The piece to me is mainly about how our
consciousness of "the stream" (social media stream) effects the
things we make. As a creative person, who's output is valued through a
collective qualitative judgement, the stream offers us the ability to
immediately put something into a type of "market place" of culture” (R,Ripps: 2013)17
Before the Internet, the creator would have to organize a concert, produce a book or put together an exhibition in order for their work to become accessible to a wider audience. When the technology enables instant publication; the artist no longer has time to delay the process of production any longer than necessary. Hybridize or die. Effective realization of the concept allows the producer to engage and receive feedback from the audience at a much faster rate. The artist’s studio now exists online. The hyperproduction of ideas allows for a new form of social critique, allowing the audience to review work online as it’s made. The materialization of ideas through language becomes the most materially efficient method for connecting directly with the global audience. A ‘survival of the fittest’ approach enables a dynamic dialogue through a healthy competition for visibility. Obesity and Bodybuilding become accepted normality’s, as it could be said that such common extremities of body type have come to represent psychological signifiers of our attitudes towards work.
By definition, Hyperproduction means ‘an increased or excessive production or output’. Ripp’s HyperCurrentLiving represents the simplification of production down to nothing other than the initial formulation of the idea itself. Understanding language as a technology, the machine now intermediates our interaction with the material more resourcefully. Collating human knowledge gains more processing power; becoming greater than the single individual. Within the current mindset of most multinational corporations; the western economy based on over-production and consumption is detrimental and cannot continue. Completely outsourcing production to the machine creates dependency within the economy. As with any addiction, the user forgets how they ever survived without it. The question concerning technology still remains unsettled. Efficiently should not be confused with effectively; although maybe there is danger of corruption amongst this form of artistic expression. In a forum that merges both art and pop culture, the consumption of easily engaging imagery by the masses does not determine how effective an artwork is. The formulaic virality of pop-culture out rules any level of defining true value. If Art acts as a signifier to future generations of our current economic existence; how do we preserve our cultural values in a world mediated by a digital perception of reality?
“Language matters. Discourse matters. Culture matters. There is an important sense in which the only thing that does not seem to matter anymore is matter.”(Barad: 2003)18
In June 2013, Starbucks claimed notoriety amongst global media after being one of many companies found to be guilty of tax evasion. For the short amount of time that the Starbucks tax evasion flooded our news feeds, it never seemed to put the consumer off from continuing their daily purchase of overpriced coffee. It seemed as though the Starbucks scandal truly epitomized the saying ‘Any publicity is good publicity’. However despite the temporary drop in the market during August 2013; 1 the company’s success has continued to flourish. Coffee culture has become an accepted part of society, as the daily ritual of caffeine consumption for breakfast becomes necessary to kick start the day. Whether drinking at home or purchasing on your way to work, the fact that caffeine is an addictive substance is embraced and overlooked. Coffee acts as a stimulant in the same way that the user wakes up to their device and instantly responds. At the time; I realized that as a brand; Starbucks has done what I see any aspiring artist online attempts to achieve. Besides paying as little tax as possible, allowing the public constant daily consumption of your product is a must.
However Starbucks; as the ubiquitous symbol of coffee culture; becomes a metaphor for how we now consume information on a constant daily basis. Ask any young (minded) person today; and without a doubt one of the first things they do in the morning is check and respond to their emails or Facebook account? Reappropriating the Starbucks logo seemed like a relevant way to unite a brand with an artwork; to be used universally across multiple platforms in place of the usual profile image. (See Figure 2.) Endorsing a brand as apart of ones artist practice; may appear hypocritical, ‘selling out’ amongst others in a commercially free ethos. Artist Jon Rafman endorsed Kool Aid man in his tour of Second Life; whilst Damien Hirst reappropriates the logo of german pharmaceutical company Bayer. Besides these two examples; the employment of brands in Art has become a language in itself, a key factor now used for questioning value and authenticity.
However; with such a visual language and the accessible means of production, the ability to replicate these brands creates numerous ripoffs. Employing simple alterations, a forged product can be produced and sold at a much cheaper cost, attempting to acquire value from the original. Deciphering authenticity becomes difficult when the technology now enables us to create almost exact replications from an original image. Photoshop and other digital editing software become environments for realizing and testing ideas. Exercising my photochopping skills becomes an ongoing challenge whilst the need for physical creation becomes an advantage. The requirement for working within physical space has both financial and environmental issues; when the concept of creation through destruction is applied.
Questioning our relationship with the traditions of a brick-and-mortar gallery space; my approach to understanding the disposability of economic materialism as an endless cycle of producing and consuming raises the matter of what Professor Ron Inglehart terms Postmaterialism. I doubt the conservative belief that art should be viewed inside a gallery setting, as the majority of the work I make can be viewed online. Ubiquitous access to the Internet allows the work to become apart of the stream of followers daily nourishment. Images and videos made for the purpose of being easily digested and thought provoking might not always necessarily have to exist within the confines of an elite market system. If Art is for the people then why not allow it be shared openly? Often incorporating humor through absurd juxtapositions of image and title, the content I produce often reflects the ridiculous nature of the online spectacle.
Through the proliferation of mobile technologies; the ability to constantly record the world around me, allows for a quick response and reflection upon the content I create. Every time I take a photograph or record an idea; it turns the physical objects into a series of 1’s and 0’s. Immortalized through the machine, the image becomes a visual symbol documenting time and space. The digital file can be sent around the world millions of times in the same amount of time it might take to send the actual object itself. Communicating an idea amongst a network of creative individuals; might seem as though you are at risking of the idea being stolen. However, if this is the case doesn’t that mean that the fear is due to risk of someone else gaining financial credit for the work or else why would this matter? None of the images I produce are copyrighted. As soon as an image is complete; it is uploaded and becomes apart of the online mediasphere of imagery allowing people to enjoy it, share it and be inspired by it. Whilst I trust that the content I share would never be used for commercial purpose without my concent; allowing the image to become widespread can only be seen as a positive. When a video gains virality on YouTube, the content owner only earns reward if they choose to monetize their footage.
Personally I don’t believe in copyrighting online. Predating the days of the Internet; the current copyright laws do not crossover into todays visual culture of sharing imagery online. There is no difference between stock images and artworks if your images are covered in watermarks. This realization became clearer to me after becoming aware of a new form of copyright; named Creative Commons.
“There is a different class of amateur creators that digital technologies have... enabled, and a different kind of creativity has emerged as a consequence."(L,Lessig: 2013)2
In order to allow creativity to flourish without restriction, some platforms such as Flickr, already have this built into the site and allow ‘fair use’ rights allowing other creatives to reuse their content. By collaborating with others you produce something fresh from something old. If you do not want someone to steal your work; do not put it on the Internet. When an image becomes widespread amongst the blogosphere, it gives the image weight. Arguably also adding value to the work, every reblog creates a new copy, the more copies created equals more links back to the original site. Whilst Amateur now holds negative connotations, it does not necessarily have to mean that the work created by amateurs is to a lesser standard. Ironically the original word had a completely different meaning, coming from the Latin word ‘to love’. In a sense, the ‘Amateur’ is rather a person who does something because they love doing it. The rise of the amateur now proves that it has become possible to resist the professionalism of creativity; prioritizing their passion for creating over a passion for fame and fortune. Maybe one day saying “It’s the work of an Amateur!”, will become a compliment?
Through sharing my work process online via daily uploads, I try to understand and readdress the value of art and the reason for making it. I try not to think that Art is just the creation of luxury commodities for the elite. I think this is an ancient economic model that digital technologies will eradicate. Technology has become more radical than Art with its ability to shock, engage and distract the viewer from the real. Aware of this, I embrace and challenge our perceptions of what we assume to be real through engaging amongst the online platforms of the masses. The increasing quality of equipment now allows us to create higher resolution images than Caravaggio could have ever dreamt of.
My fascination with technology has enabled me to learn from others whilst developing skills and insight into an online culture that can only be gained through immersed experience. Creating an online presence has built up over time, through networking and interacting with other like-minded individuals. My practice expands from the primary experience of artworks online and my constant employment of such framework; might allow a self-diagnosis as a Technophile.
is a person with strong enthusiasm for technology. However by definition technophilia
often inhibits the individual from realizing the social and environmental
impacts caused from irrefutably accepting technology. Technological determinism
is the theory that humanity has little power in resisting the influential
control that technology has on society. As a long-term heavy-user of
technology; I realize the true potential that digital technologies allow for as
tools of production whilst also staying aware of the dangers that can come from
engaging so passively. Aware of this; I have always embraced new possibilities
that technology might enable humanity to achieve whilst channeling these ideas
into my work.
Building upon the basic framework of a blog; I create sites that become artworks in themselves. 365sculptures.tumblr.com becomes a stream of images acting as an ongoing series of sculptures. Realized through their immediate interaction with a wider audience; the site echoes that of the iconic Google image search. The blog becomes a window into the artist’s sketchbook, facilitating quick documentation of articles, screenshots, film stills, photos, videos, music clips and various other digital formats. The artist’s sketchbook rematerialized through a device. Reflection upon these ideas can be seen through the patterns of ideas that emerge from the visual archive.
Developingtools.tumblr.com is a visual journal updated daily with remnants from my journey around the web. The collecting and archiving of debris as I navigate the world, reflects a similar process both on and offline. Recognizing the potential for becoming a mobile artist in a globalizing world means the hybridization of the artists practice must be streamlined. As a maker of things; how the artist presents their ideas is fundamental to any art practice. In making the artists practice portable allows the ability to create works on the move enabling influence from the changing world around them. Choosing to focus on retaining physical matter seems irrelevant in a dematerializing world. The artist’s studio becomes the temporary experience of material; constantly responding whilst simultaneously reflecting on the past. The question of low-cost sustainable living is one that the artist has faced for centuries.
Making a living through a device seems like an old fashion Internet gimmick. “Make Money Online Fast Today” (See Figure 11) is just one example of the endless supply of spam that floods my junk mail daily. Created with the purpose of preying on the weak in todays ‘get rich fast’ society. There is no feasible way to make a living through ‘cash for surveys’; due to the insignificant payouts outweighed by time taken to complete and the loss of personal information. Nevertheless, in the Information age reinvented forms of labour can be found through online microtasking marketplaces. The new job center reveals itself through sites such as Fiverr, Gigbucks and many other alternatives. These sites allow the individual to create work based on the skills they possess. Microtasking allows the self-employed user to create an income through completing smaller tasks faster and effectively. Our service-based economy now reflects the way artists online create content for the unknown audience.
‘Terms of Service’(See Figure 12) is a short film created by employing individuals advertised through Fiverr to read sections from the sites own Terms of Service. Orchestrated entirely through my laptop, the idea was realized without any physical interaction with material. Deciding upon which individual would read each section; each clip cost between $5 and $25, the total cost equating to $125. Paying others to unknowingly collaborate became relevant to the way users interact and engage across the Internet. The idea for the video grew from other individual videos I had requested Sellers to create, realizing that there was potential in this online job market. How International value systems translate within the global economy; reflects how we perceive an object of value within a given context. When placed within a population of similar images; the image no longer retains the ability to remain scarce.
Establishing new forms of content production through social communication online, collaborating with others around the world becomes easily possible through the power of the Internet. Working within todays globalized economy; the subject of values systems becomes an underlying theme in my work. As the methods of production become more immersive, the constant realization and connection of ideas becomes possible through the device; wherever the user may be.
Figure 1. Personal Image by author, Porn Shop, 2007. Digital Collage.
Figure 2. Personal Image by author, The Artist as Brand, 2013. Jpeg file.
Figure 3. Angela Washko, Tits on Tits on Ikea, 2013.
Figure 4. Parker Ito, America Online Made Me Hardcore, 2013.
Figure 5. Transistor Count and Moore's Law, Wikipedia Diagram(uploaded by Wgsimon), 2011
Figure 6. Anonymous, Share Icon
Figure 7. Aaron Graham, Horizon, 2013. Screenshot of Images taken from TheJogging Archive.
Figure 8. Jonas Lund, The Fear of Missing Out, 2013. Exhibition View.
Figure 9. Chris Anderson, The Long Tail Effect, 2006.
Figure 10. Ryder Ripps, HyperCurrentLiving, 2013.
Figure 11. Google Search Result, Make money online free now, 2013
Figure 12. Terms of Service, 2013. Screenshot of Video.
1. Internet World Stats, Penetration Rates
are based on a world population of 7,017,846,922 and 2,405,518,376 estimated
Internet users on June 30, 2012. Miniwatts Marketing
Group. Accessed via http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
2. P, Schultz. (2005). The Producer as Power User. In: Geoff Cox & Joasia Krysa Engineering Culture. Poland: Autonomedia. p111-119.
3. K, Krishnamurthy. (2014). Entrepreneurs building affordable 3D printers . Available: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/emerging-businesses/entrepreneurship/entrepreneurs-building-affordable-3d-printers/articleshow/28548438.cms. Last accessed 8th Jan 2014.
4. L, Lessig.
(2013). Foreword. Available:
http://freesouls.cc/essays/00-foreword-lawrence-lessig.html. Last accessed 10th
5. R,Prince, (2013). Post from Artists Blog ‘BirdTalk’. Available at: http://www.richardprince.com/contact/
6. I,Miller. (2002). History of Digital Art. Available: http://digitalarthistory.iwarp.com/. Last accessed 1st Nov 2013.
7. G, Robertson. (2009). How powerful was the Apollo 11 computer? . Available: http://downloadsquad.switched.com/2009/07/20/how-powerful-was-the-apollo-11-computer/. Last accessed 3rd Jan 2014.
8. Kranzberg, Melvin (1986) Technology and History: "Kranzberg's Laws", Technology and Culture, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 544-560. Last accessed 10th Nov 2013.
9. McLuhan, M. and Q. Fiore (1967): The Medium is the Massage. New York: Bantam. p31
Hyperproduction in relation to Young Internet Based Art
1. G, Saad, (2011) The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books).
2. (2013). Neomaterialism. Joshua Simon and Noam Yuran on the Subjectivity and Vitality of Things. [Online Video]. Vera List Center. Available from: https://vimeo.com/51915510. Last accessed: 01 October 2013
3. Internet World Stats, Penetration Rates are based on a world population of 7,017,846,922 and 2,405,518,376 estimated Internet users on June 30, 2012. Miniwatts Marketing Group. Accessed via http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
4. E, Schmidt, (2013). Internet Users in 2020. The Internet World Stats Blog, [Online], 1. Available at: http://internetstatstoday.com/internet-users-in-2020/ [Accessed 04 December 2013].
5. We Live in Public, 2009. [DVD] Ondi Timoner, USA: Interloper Films.
6. D, Joselit (2013). After Art. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. p1. Last accessed 13th Nov 2013
7. M, Galperina. (2013). This Is the First Vine-art Ever Sold. [ONLINE] Animal. Available at: http://animalnewyork.com/2013/this-is-the-first-vine-art-ever-sold/. [Accessed 10 September 13].
8. P, Schultz. (2005). The Producer as Power User. In: Geoff Cox & Joasia Krysa Engineering Culture. Poland: Autonomedia. p111-119.
9. Parker Cheet To, Facebook Profile [Online], Available at: https://www.facebook.com/parker.egoo?fref=ts
10. John L. and Jean Comaroff, (2009) Ethnicity, Inc. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
11. B, Troemel, (2013). Athletic Aesthetics. The New Inquiry, [Online]. Available at: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/athletic-aesthetics/ [Accessed 14 October 2013].
12. M, McLuhan, The Tomorrow Show, (1976). Instantaneous/simultaneous information world (1976). [Online Video]. Available from: http://marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/electric-age/1976-instantaneous-simultaneous-information-world.php. [Accessed: 27 November 2013].
13. Meme. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014, Available at : http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meme
14. TheJogging, B,Troemel and L, Christiansen. (2008-Present) [Online] Available at: http://www.thejogging.tumblr.com
15. C, Anderson, (2012). The Long Tail. Wired.12.10. [Online], Available at: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html [Accessed 01 December 2013].
16. Innis, Harold Adams. (1951). The Bias of Communication. Intro. Marshall McLuhan. Toronto: Univerity of Toronto Press, 1964.
(2013). Hyper Current Living, overview. [Online]. ryper-ripps.LiveJournal,
[Accessed 04 December 2013].
18. K,Barad, (2003). Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter. Signs, Intro
1. Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) [Nasdaq Real Time Price], Available at : .http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=SBUX#symbol=sbux;range=20110204,20131111;compare=;indicator=volume;charttype=area;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=undefined;
2. L, Lessig. (2013). Foreword. Available: http://freesouls.cc/essays/00-foreword-lawrence-lessig.html. Last accessed 10th Dec 2013.
A, Krotowski. (2013). The Digital Human. 3. Value. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/dh#playepisode3.
A, Munster (2013). An Aesthesia of Networks, chpt. Goes Viral. Massachusetts Insitute of Technology: The MIT Press, Cambridge, London.. p101..
D.C, Blight. (2013). Art Curator in the Digital Age. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2013/aug/23/art-curator-in-digital-age. Last accessed 24th Aug 2013.
E, Pariser (2011). The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You. Great Britain, Viking: Penguin Books.
G, Debord (1987). Society of the Spectacle. Great Britain by A,Wheaton & Co. Ltd,Exeter: Rebel Press.
J.T.Schnapp (2009). Speed Limits. Italy: The Wolfonian-Florida International University.
K, Goldsmith. (2013). The Writer as Meme Machine. Available: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/10/the-writer-as-meme-machine-how-has-the-internet-altered-poetry.html. Last accessed 1th Nov 2013.
K, South. (2013). Identify Yourself. Available: http://idyrself.com/.
Last accessed 11th Nov 2013.
L, Lessig (2008). Remix: Making Art and Commerce thrive in the hybrid economy. United States,: The Penguin Press.
N, Jurgensen. (2013). The IRL Fetish. Available: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/the-irl-fetish/. Last accessed 13th Oct 2013.
O,Laric. (2012) Versions. [Online Work] (08:48) Available at: http://oliverlaric.com/versions2012.htm
W, Benjamin (1936) The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility’ 2nd Version. (H,Eiland and M.W.Jennings.,Cambridge. Belknap, 2002)