I am giving a paper at the Association of Art Historians annual conference on Thursday 10th of April in a session called ‘Parsing the Pixelated’. My paper looks like this:
Hacking Art History
Hacking – the disruption or bypassing of communication systems – developed healthily alongside the rapid advancement of communication technology in the 20th century. Once, it was inventor Maskelyne foiling Marconi’s attempts to showcase radio (1903). Then it was the Zapatista-inspired digital sit-ins crashing the Mexican government’s website (1997). And now it’s Anonymous attacking the Church of Scientology (2008). Meanwhile, hacker culture and FLOSS (free/libre and open source software) democratise hardware, software and ways of making things. Even Culture Hack Days and THATCamps cut the time and cost of digital up-skilling in the arts. But what does it look like when you hack the history of art? In this paper I describe cases in which digital communication technologies have been used to disrupt/bypass art historical systems. These include the naming of ‘net.art’ in 1997, ‘Documenta Done’ (1997), ‘Tate Mongrel’ (2000), and Kimathi Donkor’s google image art history rewrite (2004). I show how these ‘art history hacks’ align with institutionally-critical conceptual art and the so-called New Art History. However I argue that they not only provide a mode of self-reflexive critique, but a more appropriate way of building histories of digital art which in fact might best be built beyond the art history book.
There’s an amazing project going on that (thanks to being way too over-stretched) I’m not as involved with as I’d have liked to be. Many of you know art history blogger extraordinaire Hasan Niyasi passed away last year and on the 6th of April – Raphael’s Birthday – there’s a co-ordinated effort to remember Hasan and all his amazing work. Sedef Piker explains the initiative on Hasan’s blog:
“Why? We are calling for original blog posts to celebrate the life of the late Hasan Niyazi, his passionate devotion to Raphael and his commitment to open-access art history – as exemplified by his visionary project Open Raphael Online (ORO): www.openraphael.org
What? This is a chance for Hasan’s friends and admirers to contribute articles, videos, photographs, mash-ups, etc., related to art and art history. Let’s focus on the things that Hasan loved, as expressed in his extraordinary blog, Three Pipe Problem (www.3pipe.net) and, of course, ORO (www.openraphael.org)
Who? We are reaching out to everyone in the world who cares about the things that mattered to Hasan. He was an enthusiast as well as a scholar – and not a professional art historian (as he was quick to remind us!) Hasan had little time for academic boundaries, but plenty of time for building community around shared interests.
How? Simply post on your blog and register your post with InLinkz. If you like, you can download a badge for the event from this site (included below) and embed that image into your post. If you don’t have a blog, we would be delighted to help you find a home for your contribution. Just send an e-mail to us at: email@example.com.”
Even though I haven’t had nearly enough time to read through all the tributes being published these last few weeks, Hasan is always in my thoughts and my work and I will strive to have his contribution recognized by the ‘establishment’. So in his memory, and because I know it would have made him laugh, I’ve Charlotte-i-fied Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn (1505-06) which Hasan himself wrote about back in 2012. My home and office are liberally sprinkled with internet/meme favourite – the unicorn – so what better way to signal the depths of my digital connection with Hasan.
Art history has largely been written by white western men about white western men. And even though feminists started to correct this in the 1970s, today its not just what you say, but how you say it that’s important. Wikipedia, for example, is now one of the world’s largest knowledge repositories. Millions of people use it everyday. However, there aren’t enough female Wikipedia editors and partly as a result of this, there aren’t enough Wikipedia articles about women. For me at least, being an art historian isn’t just about looking back, it’s about looking forwards as well and thinking about writing art history the right way, for the future. My concern since arriving in Hong Kong has been that if Wikipedia doesn’t contain articles about Hong Kong’s women artists, we not only risk perpetuating the same exclusive narratives, but we are providing inadequate information for future generations.
Therefore on Saturday 8th March I hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the School of Creative Media. Our collective aim was to write as many articles as we could on Hong Kong’s women artists. Over 20 people attended and at the latest count, more than 12 new profiles on local women artists had been added to the online resource. Participants ranged from SCM professors to school teachers and HR consultants – we even had two-year-old beginner feminist in our midst. We were lucky to have several local representatives from Wikimedia on hand to support beginners – thank you Rover, Alexander and Venus! And come Sunday morning we were featured in the South China Morning Post! There have of course been other feminist edit-a-thons and I’m excited to be part of a wider network of people addressing such archival blindspots. I’ll be reporting back on a range of these types of activities and what they mean for art history at the Association of Art Historians annual conference in April.
The edit-a-thon also signals the start of a new larger body of work I am producing which looks at how art history can and should be taught in the future. I’m quite the Cathy Davidson disciple and I increasingly operate a hybrid or flipped classroom where students come prepared to take part in art history, not just hear about it. Although I think there’s still a place in the world for art history lectures – where would I be now if Griselda Pollock hadn’t knocked my mock-croc boots off with her intellect and charm in the 1990s – I don’t think it’s the most effective way to stretch and engage students in an multi-media world. My amazing Research Associate Vennesa Yung and I will therefore shortly be launching Arts Future Classroom, a project crowd-sourcing ‘unlectures’ for the arts supported by grants from the City University of Hong Kong and the UK Association of Art Historians. We’ll be inviting people to share all the content, tools, advice and resources for teaching art history in experimental ways thus generating a open teaching library where you can browse and borrow dynamic classes that don’t rely on the lecture format. More soon!
My blog post for the forthcoming THATCamp CAA asking after the art history courses of the future…
via Tumblr http://charlottefrost.tumblr.com/post/72849838073
Back in November, as part of Academic Writing Month, Jesse Stommel and I conducted an on and offline Google Docs workshop.
As regular collaborators who use Google Docs on a weekly basis to write, talk and reflect, we wanted to share exactly how we work together. So at 11.00am Hong Kong time, I met Jesse in a Google Doc in front of a room of PhD and Post-Doc writers. Jesse meanwhile was at home on a cold night in Madison.
With a rough idea of what we wanted to talk about, we proceeded in describing and demonstrating a strategy for collaborative writing. Our aim was to show that even if you don’t plan to co-write with someone, a Google Doc is still a great place to work openly with another person (or even a whole crowd).
Often just making the plan to meet someone in a Google Doc can have a big impact on your productivity, but it’s also a great way to get a bit of support as you write – you might even get some valuable proof-reading from your writing partner. In fact, as our final Google Doc (and blog post for PhD2Published) shows, there are numerous reasons for writing with someone online.
What we never expected when we set out to produce this Google Doc workshop was that Digital Humanities Now would pick up on it and make it their Editor’s Choice in December. This was an exciting validation of Jesse’s and my ongoing collaborative experimentation and totally made our December!
To have DHNow select the work is also completely in line with the way both of us operate. We strive to experiment in public and reflect – with others – on the nature and value of what we have done. Back in July, my open, multi-modal approach to art history was also selected by DHNow as an example of relevant contemporary humanities practice. It’s important to me to be part of these open experiments but it’s also important to me to be recognized precisely by the very platforms that offer an alternative to traditional publication and peer review.
via Tumblr http://charlottefrost.tumblr.com/post/70564332489
We’re curating fantasy art exhibitions in class, here’s the start of mine! #arthistory #duchamp #jeffkoons #jeremybailey
via Tumblr http://charlottefrost.tumblr.com/post/67628513617
Discussion points will include:
Each week I will begin discussing a new issue drawn from my research on post-internet art history and I will publicly invite responses from the list and beyond (I am also going to be approaching people privately and off-list, using email and other social media, in order to gather more opinions to feed these back into the list-based discussion). My plan is to rigorously test out ideas about the evolution of art contextual activities on the very pioneers who shaped these spaces and systems. I also want to preview sections from my forthcoming book, Art History Online, invite people to directly criticize my work and/or corroborate the facts. In doing this I aim to:
In the first week I shall begin with the origins of discussion lists. Who started which list, where and why and what were some of the posts that established the list’s reputation? I will draw out some of the history that isn’t already described online and give list originators the opportunity to reflect, some years later, on what happened during these times. Then I will go on to ask people how they might theorize art discussion lists: as artistic or political statements in themselves? As living documents or performance spaces? As ways of hacking the systems of art making and contextualization?
…and many more!
As a book series we publish unique works that establish new systems for considering art. Our aim is to explore the relations between the form and content of art books and to exploit new technologies that expand their literal and philosophical capacities. What is a book about art, and what can and should it do?
Our first publication, Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance, by Nathaniel Stern, is out in a few days: http://www.amazon.com/Interactive-Art-Embodiment-Implicit-Performance/dp/1780240090
This book shows how interactive artworks ask us to perform rigorous philosophies of the body. Stern argues that interactive art suspends and amplifies the ways in which we experience embodiment as per-formed, relational, and emergent. He provides many in-depth case studies of contemporary artworks that develop a practice of embodied philosophy, setting a stage to explore how we inter-act and relate with the world. He offers a valuable critical framework for analysing interactive artworks and what’s at stake in our encounters with them, which can be applied to a wide range of complex and emerging art forms.
The book is published as a peer-reviewed printed book and eBook and is accompanied – or rather, re-per-formed – as an online participatory chapter about embodied research practices, and a multi-location interactive exhibition and virtual book tour.
In the companion chapter (offered in partnership with Networked Book at Turbulence.org), Stern offers a semi-autobiographical account of his own research trajectory, and invites comment, critique, and contributions of new work. This creates a participatory stage for rehearsing the performance of scholarship.
At the exhibitions, audiences encounter the concepts and materials addressed in the book. For example, in Stern’s ‘Body Language’ series, participants use their full bodies to interact with digitized sounds, projected animations, texts, drawings, and videos, which shift and change with their movements. They explore, play with, experience, and practice how we make bodies and meaning.
In its various modes, Interactive Art and Embodiment performs the philosophical environment of interactive art, and embodies Arts Future Book’s investigations into how we can and should perform art scholarship.
Further performances of art, philosophy and publishing will occur on Twitter using the hashtag: #implicitbody.
Arts Future Book is published by Gylphi Ltd and is supported by an international editorial board.
The Arts Future Book project has been explained, modelled (and remodelled) in the open-access journal article/artwork: ‘Is Art History Too Bookish’ by series editor Charlotte Frost.
Arts Future Book: http://www.gylphi.co.uk/arts/index.php
Interactive Art and Embodiment: http://implicitbody.net/
Nathaniel Stern: http://nathanielstern.com/
Companion chapter: http://stern.networkedbook.org/
Networked Book: http://networkedbook.org/
Is Art History Too Bookish? http://www.gylphi.co.uk/artsfuturebook/
The first Arts Future Book!!!
via Tumblr http://charlottefrost.tumblr.com/post/57057537074