Category Archives: Internet Art

on the expanding medium of internet art

Communicating faster than creativity

I ponder in my isolation as only the digital era could provide the question of creativity in our time. We have it and use and present all over, yet I wonder whether we realize the shallowness it exudes in the newness of complexity that all these intersecting signals have created. We raced to get here as fast as we can asking not what it means but rather what it can do, or do better, or faster, or longer, or smaller. We threw our net wide and incorporated the world from streaming internationally to communicating globally. The Earth isn’t as large or mysterious as it once was, the universe too now shrinks more and more. We hunger for information, raw and unchecked, that we aggregate it all to measure its success. Yet through this conglomerate of what we can present we have lost something meaningful, something only human. In our hunger to know we’ve forgotten context and depth. What matters now is a false sense of objective knowledge crowd sourced to the masses. In that importance we deemed the editor unnecessary, the journalist a waste, and the critic ourselves. With the communication of the digital age we all became the critics and informants of our own world, assuming that because we can now get around the critical eye, the critical eye is no longer necessary. Why learn from a historian what you can google on wikipedia? Why read from a journalist what you can learn first hand from twitter? why pay to experience the new when you can create (or decide) it for yourself?

The internet and the digital age has such an ability to create depth and yet all it has been used for is breath. We are losing touch with creativity because we no longer know what it means to be creative. We trust that which we don’t understand and fear that which is unfamiliar. We are as lost as ever despite everything that is helping us get found.

In all these vague generalizations what I really mean to say is something rather simple: We have lost our desire to be challenged intellectually. The 20th century saw the childhood of this concept in art, modernism though born in the 19th century truly came into its self in the 20th. But in so doing it created a world of art that needed to be engaged, thought through, and then understood. Modernism isn’t easy art, you can’t look at it once and understand it, it takes time and thought and engagement and discussion and research and understanding, and an open mind above all. But with all the tools of communication at our fingertips we have no interest in spending time figuring something out, rather we’ll just google it. And in so doing, we fail to fully understand it.

I challenge us and myself to stop googling. I challenge us to return to our tried and true techniques of learning the hard way. Use what has come before us, trust the disciplined approach it takes to be called a historian or journalist. And if through the internet we have come to believe that these academic processes for creating measures of distinction in our society are truly damaged or corrupt then lets fix them.



Dancing Matt and a need to be inspired.

I have been wanting to post about “Where the Hell is Matt” for over a year at this point. The only real reason I haven’t is due mostly to my busy schedule as a  teacher, but with that life slipping behind me I find myself with nothing but time to catch up on the elements of life I missed out on. One in particular is responding to his most recent video from 2012 that inspired myself and my kids to find our own way to change the world. There isn’t much to his videos and there are based on something rather simple, dancing around the world. But his simple concept of visiting different cities and dancing with local populations has inspired me and continues to inspire me. The videos are cute, funny and leave an audience smiling if not laughing. But no jokes are told or script developed. For what makes us enjoy his videos is the happiness and togetherness they portray. We see the differences of our world so wonderfully displayed next to each other as to forget the pain those differences have caused. We are given a reason to smile from his video.

In my own explorations as to what is the responsibility of artists I have danced with the idea that as artists we have responsibilities to the population. As a community we always want to strive to be better and those who strive for our attention should naturally lead us down that path. I’ve gone so far as to criticize the remarkably enjoyable music of Jimmy Buffet for doing nothing more than giving us a reason to drink and screw. Yet I was mistaken then and can realize it now. The role of art is and always has been to engage us. To produce in us a reaction transient and pleasurable, his music does that.

I’m not about to suggest that Matt’s videos are as timeless and enjoyable as Jimmy Buffet but I do want to argue that there is a significance to the smile they produce in us. We are a social species by nature, it has had great influence on our evolution, being able to communicate and share and desiring to as well. We are a better, smarter species for our social desires and yet recently I feel we have lost some of that. Many smarter and more informed individuals have blasted our generation and the internet for the decrease in social experiences and though I lean towards their camp I’m not necessarily sure they are right. Have we truly replaced time together with time online? Furthermore is time online truly void of the same social celebrations produced in time together? The answers aren’t necessarily there just yet and maybe won’t be for a while. However what is there is that videos like this have a power to remind us what it means to be together. Those who participated in his videos enjoyed togetherness while those who enjoyed his videos witnessed it. But more than just witnessing it, my classroom felt it, discussed it, celebrated it, and used it to inspire ourselves.

I’ll leave it there for now but will return. I’d like to see more of us inspiring ourselves.

-Huysmans out.

Those unfamiliar with Matt’s dancing exploits can find information about him and his adventures here.

The future of Cover Art

I want to start simply by saying I’m not sure where I stand on this or if there really is something to stand on. But for the past few years my friends and I have been wondering about the future of cover art in the music industry. Ever since the first album was “officially” released through programs like iTunes the question of the necessity of such a design came about. However if time is any indicator, it hasn’t phased it one bit.

But now comes the more interesting question. With the recent announcement from Amazon that the Kindle is outselling its hardcover equivalents, are the days of cover designs numbered? Not so unrelated is the example set by Project Gutenberg. The digitization of countless classic novels now considered to be in the public domain has rendered them coverless. Should you choose to download (for free… legally) a classic such as say… Washington Square by Henry James, you will find (at least in the case of the iBooks App for iProducts) there is no cover design. This is simply because it has been digitized as part of this project and is not being published by a publishing house, thus has no commissioned cover art.

Perhaps discussing classics is almost meaningless because despite how they are digitized, the hardcover equivalents continue to display cover art. But what happens when there are no more hardcovers? Will that happen?

Or put it more simply, why aren’t we digitizing the original cover art for these texts in the public domain? Perhaps that art is lost, or perhaps it predates cover art (my own understanding of the medium is limited, especially its historical evolution).

Ultimately it comes down to this: Will the art of cover design have a home in the digital evolution of music and literature? We already know that it can exist, but just because something can be there doesn’t necessarily mean it will be there. In the tangible form it was convenient because the cover was necessary. But in the digital world there is no cover.

So I leave the blogosphere with this question: What do you think is the fate of cover art?


Visualizing Ideas: New York City in Pastiche

PSFK introduced me to something rather interesting. The project itself can be found at Christian Marc Schmidt’s website. It is described as a collective composition of New York City which visually combines the geographic neighborhoods of New York with the digitally communicated ideas floating around in the blogosphere. This piece culminates with the virtual/verbal representation of New York organized by its many neighborhoods.

Pastiche—A Collective Composition of New York City, by Ivan Safrin & Christian Marc Schmidt from Christian Marc Schmidt on Vimeo.

My first thought when stumbling on this piece was a flash back to good old Jay Gould and his Oral History of the World. But the difference here is this piece is fundamentally written by the world and does actually exist. It most certainly is art of the communal and experiential kind, harking back to the days of the Dadas who, through those questionable Cadavre Exquise, formed works of art not centered on the talents of any one person but existing through the collaboration of the group. That is the heart of this project and though it has its creators: Ivan Safrin and Christian Marc Schmidt, it can only exist through the contributions of the blogosphere.
thoughts and reactions…


Preserving a President

Preserving a President

13 Presidents, each freezing their time in history with a library.

Question 1: Does 13 make it a tradition?

Question 2: What does America see as the purpose of this “tradition”?

Question 3: What should be the purpose of this “tradition”?

Now for the question the Times is asking:

Question 4: Should we keep this “Tradition”?

Personally speaking as I like to do, I think the end of this short post is what is most interesting. Will Obama’s technological influences inspire him to construct his library differently, or even perhaps digitally? Could Obama start the Second Life Presidential Library Tradition?



Understanding Art… Question 1:

If it is in a museum… is it art?

Here are some profound answers:


Googling Question: This is not for the faint of heart.

The Internet verse Tradition Part 1

It began as a discussion between one of my closest friends and myself years ago. But now with us both beginning our professional lives it is time for the discussion to move up a notch and to become a series of dialogues I hope to have here.

The topic is grand and vague and in most cases too confusing to understand what the hell is going on, but somewhere in the language lies a very interesting debate over the future of human interaction and the creation of art. The Role of The Internet, on its surface a seemingly endless answer with parts that are constantly growing and changing with or against time. But that simple yet confounding fact does not exempt the internet and its future from discussion, just the contrary actually. So now it is time to begin again. Pay close attention Mark, I’m ready to do this on your turf now:

The first concept I have been struggling with is the idea of separating two very distinct areas of the Internet’s development (I don’t mean to say there are only two but rather that there are two that this will focus on, or at least that there are two I don’t want to get confused over). The first is the internet as a tool of communication, as the great democratization of information distribution, where as my friend reported he was able to hear about the Hudson crash through Twitter faster than any “credible” news media service could deliver. Now the second area is the Internet as a medium for the creation and publication of art and it is in this title that I want to explore. I want to look at the pros and cons of the Internet as the democratization of publishing, or rather I want to look at the idea that the Internet is doing such a thing to begin with.

The question at hand is whether or not editors and “credible” publishing services are needed as filters for highlighting what is actually worth reading. On the opposite side of the fence, that of the internet users, the editors are replaced (or augmented by) the sheer populairty given select published pieces by the masses. Thus the question really is: Should the masses control what is read or the editors or some combination of both? We should start with that last addition, perhaps the internet has no intentions of destroying the traditional methods of publication and critisicm, but if that were true than we shouldn’t have seen the destruction of nearly every newspapers book review section save the Times. So it is clear that we can agree a change is happening, and that this change is destroying, to a certain extent, the authority of traditional editors and critics.

But maybe it isn’t destroying them, maybe those critics and editors are moving to the Internet, are combining with it to create a new format for finding the next great literary publication. Along with that point is the Long Tail effect of the Internet to allow for every possible niche market to find itself and its companions, but in order to find what you are looking for in that respect you have to be pretty experienced with how to search, is that an assumption we can make about the masses?

Anyway that’s enough for part 1, I apologize for introducing a lot of differing points but I had to start somewhere. The real question I have for the Internet is this: How will it protect the minority opinion in art if the masses are always dictating the path?