tom moody

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Pollock Guggenheim Mural

We're discussing the mural Jackson Pollock did for Peggy Guggenheim's home at Paddy Johnson's. An anonymous commenter from Iowa (where the painting now resides) is trash-talking certain aspects of its legend based on opinions of nameless experts. All very interesting but we're waiting for some actual evidence.

- tom moody

August 16th, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Posted in general

Richard Prince at the Guggenheim

Notes on the Richard Prince's mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim (his second--the first was at the Whitney in '92).

1. The signature early photos rephotographed from advertisements grab you with their icy coldness and near-claustrophobic perfection of composition/cropping. They are slightly eerie in their grainy, one-step-removed distance from their subjects, and obsessive in their focus on the banal: labels/logos, product photography (furniture, jewelry), male and female models (looking in the same direction).

2. The show gets worse as you move up the Guggenheim ramp. The photos, joke paintings, and car hood sculptures all get larger, messier, overworked, "painterly" for no particular reason, climaxing with the execrable "nurse paintings" and the even more execrable "De Kooning Women" paintings. Copying the "modern masters" is the kiss of death.

3. The exhibition curator mixes old and new work in apparent attempt to obscure this decline. The rephotographed "girlfriend photos" of biker babes mingle with the boring, Eggleston-lite upstate NY photos of the late '90s. The so-so car hoods are interspersed with the monochrome joke paintings as if to say "See, viewers? Both are minimal. Can you say minimal?" The "gangs" series of photomontages of '86-'87 (groups of related images such as battlefield photos, tidal waves, hair bands, more biker girls) is broken apart and spread evenly throughout the show.

4. Prince's content shifts with the winds of the market. After the Neo Geo era of the mid '80s he switched from photo-appropriation to "hard edged painting" (the joke monochromes). When the art world began embracing large scale photos in the late '90s (Gursky, Tillmans, Billingham), Prince returned to Marlboro cowboys, but larger, and began showing celebrity headshots and memorabilia. When the painting madness returned with the influx of Bush tax cut millionaire funny money, Prince went back to big paintings (cancelled checks, nurses). Of course he worked in multiple media all along, but these are the broad trends.

5. The early work is incisive and perceptive and earned him his "place in history." Too bad about the rest of it--at least it wasn't as horrific as late Johns.

- tom moody

December 26th, 2007 at 7:51 pm

Posted in general

michael manning at bill brady


Am not going to make it to Kansas City to see this show at Bill Brady's gallery but this intrigues, as a way to present digital painting and collage. Instead of the usual chin-scratching circuit around the perimeter of the gallery, moving from one expression to the next and saying, "I see," the viewer inscribes a much tighter circle, gawking "into" this tangle of overlapping (literally and figuratively) ideas. Not to say this hasn't been done -- think Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim -- but it seems like a good way to answer the naysayers who think this is just commodified abstract painting as usual. A cynic might say this is commodified media art as usual but that's why we need to be in Kansas City, looking at the individual objects in this cluster. I know (a) it's a combination of canvas, video, painting, 3D graphics, media quotation and photoshoppery, and (b) it's probably smarter than any attempt to reduce it to a discussion about medium, or post-medium, based on seeing Manning's shows in NY recently. The artist's site gives some additional insight into what might be on those screens and surfaces.

Update: The gallery has some additional installation shots up.

- tom moody

October 24th, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Posted in art - others

59 people liked this


The first three "likes" are art writer/curator types of the "net art" persuasion -- can't tell from the screenshot (hat tip wigs) who else finds this funny or profound, only that there are 56 of them (is there an expectation of privacy here? Sorry!). Anyway, this is what cult of personality looks like, Facebook style. You can say something meaningless (except that it lets everyone know you think you're an artist) and have it instantly validated.

I am a male artist as much as I am a mail artist.
[Smedley Q. Moma, Earl Whitney, The Late Peggy Guggenheim and 56 others like this.]

- tom moody

May 5th, 2013 at 11:28 am

Posted in art as criticism

net art eras

Last night at 0-Day Art's presentation at Eyebeam, the term "net art" was bandied about as if we all knew what it was.
It could be something practiced by one of 13, or possibly 14 types of actors. (See discussion with Duncan Alexander on whether the "wtf is a net artist" list is a catalog or a shrug.)

It could also mean something different depending on when it occurred, for example:

The Josephine Bosma era (early web through the Dotcom crash). Any artist interviewed by Josephine Bosma. The heyday of Steve Dietz at the Walker Art Center, or Dia Foundation's attempt at an online gallery.

The Blogosphere era (roughly 2001 - 2007). Rhizome transitions from a ListServ to a blog. Eyebeam Reblog (now kaput). Surf clubs. YTMND and 4Chan thrive as non-blog sites. Rise of Delicious and Flickr. Livejournal, MySpace collectivize the blog model, leading to:

The Social Media era (2007 to the present). Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Various attempts to make networking on these giant sites "performative." Trolling and friending as bullshit relational aesthetics. The economy of liking. "Aggregation" beyond the dreams of Borges.

(hat tip Lindsay Howard for Josephine Bosma link.)

Update: Add YouTube to the blogosphere era - guess it has to go somewhere. But did anyone call themselves YouTube artists the way some people (actually) tried to call themselves twitter artists? Seems like that was more of a media creation-slash-museum misfire, a la the Guggenheim's non-paradigm shifting YouTube show.

Update 2: Since I already had net art being slung around in the Duncan convo I decided it needed to be bandied about in this post.

- tom moody

April 12th, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Posted in general

vintage net art that still works

screenshot of interactive work, Unfolding Object, by John F. Simon, Jr. (2002)
Guggenheim Museum

OK, nine years is too new to be vintage--thought it was older when the post title was written and now I don't want to change it. Also, not known is whether it works because it's been tinkered with to keep it functioning on current browsers. (Another Simon piece, Combinations, for example, was made before pop-up blockers.)

- tom moody

December 14th, 2011 at 9:09 am

Posted in art - others



Olia Lialina, who quoted my term "ubiquitous mini-cinema"* in her essay about animated GIFs for the Guggenheim's blog for the YouTube "Play" show. As I noted to her in an email:

It's kind of ironic that your essay appears in connection with a YouTube show, since one of the purposes of that show was to sell people on the idea that YouTube, not animated GIFs, is the "ubiquitous mini-cinema" of today. Even if the organizers of the show didn't or don't notice this dichotomy, I'm glad you got the ideas about GIFs in there.

Chris Goode, for the link to a page of my "1-bit drawings" in his essay about Tristan Perich's 1-Bit Symphony. His point was

One-bit music is the aural equivalent of a monochrome bitmap image and as such it has a certain ugliness: but scaled up to meet Perich's ambition in writing symphonically for it -- and, Lord knows, he's not kidding around -- the mismatch becomes remarkably moving, almost overwhelmingly so, with thick pixellated tonal swarms buzzing in and around your cranium: imagine the Ride of the Valkyries developed as a game for the Sega Mega Drive, scored by Glenn Branca for an orchestra of a hundred stylophones, and you're just beginning to get there.


- tom moody

January 5th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Posted in general

The Fave of Death

More from the discussion on Paddy Johnson's blog of the Guggenheim Museum's call-for-entries for artists to make YouTubes that will be judged and exhibited as art. The museum's teaser video is just awful.

Commenter Paul Slocum says: "I’ve decided that instead of submitting something myself, I’m going to contact producers on Youtube who are true to the spirit of Youtube and deserve recognition, and urge them to submit specific videos to the contest. Rally, y’all."

My reply to that:

Here are my YouTube faves. Paul Slocum has a good idea of encouraging producers we like to submit but after watching that Guggenheim call-for-submissions video again I wouldn’t wish that process on my worst enemies. Normal video pausing into pseudo-glitchy jitter, gratuitous sped-up city scenes, quasi-8 bit music, a groovy fake Yellow Submarine sequence, stop-motion graffiti oozing off the wall and strutting around: the full panoply of effects a 30-something high paid art director would create to conjure happenin’ youth. By contrast, the work in the above faves list is no-budget, sincere, incomprehensible, vague, “weak,” anti-YouTube, no-style, slight, non-corporate, etc (but also brilliant). Recall what happened when Guthrie Lonergan curated a group of touchingly inept MySpace intros on YouTube. The work got duller when it was linked to directly by and even duller when shown on professional gear at the New Museum. The work I love most would shrivel in the institutional spotlight and I shudder to think of a techie explaining to Silicious how to make a more polished use of Poser software.

Update: YouTube is constantly changing the size of the player window, such that pieces that need to be full bleed suddenly acquire annoying letterboxing. Just noticed that a few more pixels have been added to the width so that even the widescreen pieces a few months ago now have thin vertical black stripes on the right and left. The only kind of art anybody should be making for this "medium" is shitty half-assed art that will somehow survive the hosts' regular tinkering.

Update, 2013: I closed the "Teleclysm" YouTube account over the "unitary identity" issue and general Google weirdness.

- tom moody

June 19th, 2010 at 9:44 am

Posted in general


Comment below posted to Paddy Johnson's blog, in response to two threads about an upcoming Guggenheim "YouTube show."
Briefly the museum isn't scouring the 'Tube but asking for artists to send "new YouTubes," and the show is in effect a collaboration among the museum, Hewlett Packard, which will be providing gear and "technical advice," and Google. Johnson questioned the credentials of the standard "video art" curators to judge YouTubes (because the platform is a web meme factory, a slightly different animal from "video art") and offered substitute judges, including me (I would be great because I basically hate YouTube).

The question under consideration is whether YouTube is just a delivery system for "video art" of the established, Nam Jun Paik variety, or whether it’s a culture unto itself that curators should be learning about. By culture I don't mean "digital culture" in the starry-eyed Nicholas Negroponte sense of an evolving hive mind but a culture in the Margaret Mead sense of a group with its own mores, which may or may not mature into a canon with critics, philosophers, checks, balances, etc.* According to the New York Times, Hewlett Packard will be collaborating on the project "to teach skills like editing, animation and lighting to the video-naïve," and as noted by NYC the Blog, the YouTube platform has company rules and acts as a censor independent of the museum. All this suggests that YouTube will be thought of in its original, intended, non-vernacular sense as a place to find "new talent" for art and TV, even though, over the years, the YouTube "street has found its own uses for things," in William Gibson's phrase. James Kalm mentions several of those; I noted in the earlier thread that YouTube is becoming a substitute iTunes, with people posting their favorite obscure song with a single still image for the consideration of the site’s talkative commenters. (I've been calling the site "America's Jukebox.") Will that and other "pirate" uses of YT–-such as OAVs or "original anime videos" featuring anime clips recut with new music–-be reflected in the Guggenheim's filtered call for entries? Doubtful--the YouTube competition will ultimately be WhateverWeSayTube.

*forum culture, in Beau Siever's phrase

- tom moody

June 18th, 2010 at 7:52 am

Posted in general

Culture in Cyberspace!

Have never used the term "digital culture" with a straight face.
Paddy Johnson refers to "web culture" in discussing an upcoming Guggenheim show that will largely bypass it in favor of a call for entries for newly made YouTubes (like we needed more).
A regular sarcastic AFC commenter asks:

Can you guys give me some examples of this great YouTube material I’m missing? I mean, I like the really cute lemur as much as the next guy, and those people lip-synching the Lady Gaga song are certainly doing important cultural work, but clearly there’s a whole avant-garde that has passed me by.

Nothing like an open mind!
It's possible to speak of a "culture" of something without claiming it has matured or evolved to the point of having a canon or even two people who agree on what's good.
Through Johnson's blog am continuing to rub shoulders with folks who equate "trying to get two people to agree on a good thing made with digital tools and transmitted/shared on the web" with starry-eyed Nicholas Negroponte-isms about our webby future.
It's easy to sit back and snipe, especially when you lack the aptitude or fortitude to make these critical judgments yourself. Just please don't ask to have it explained for you when you are asking in bad faith.

- tom moody

June 17th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Posted in general