new aesthetic


46 books in a cabinet

Recently, I rolled Library of the Printed Web up Fifth Avenue to CUNY Graduate Center for a presentation at Theorizing the Web 2013.

Unlike the online experience of art (fast, ephemeral), Library of the Printed Web presents itself as a slow scene—a tableau vivant of found photography and texts from the web. The components—table, shelves, books—feel familiar because we used to spend a lot of time in physical bookstores, and indeed, the comment from just about everyone who approached the table was “are these for sale?”

LotPW contains flip-flop work derived from Flickr, Google Maps, Gmail, Wikipedia and other online repositories of content. The installation of the collection itself is an experiment that plays with expectations about consumption, entertainment and ownership. The books aren’t for sale, and the presentation is slowed-down to the confines of real-time and physical space. The installation is simple, accessible and deliberate; it can’t be “saved for later.” Someone even commented that “books in a wooden box” was a shocking idea, in the context of a web/theory conference. Containing the books within a specially constructed piece of wheeled furniture (a mobile device) is critical; the collection is pushed to the scene and the books are revealed from within the rough cabinet for examination, drawing out the physicality and substance of the material in its presentation.

This focus on the physical is not because I’m interested in some kind of nostalgic idea about what the book used to be. I’m not trying to access something “lost” or better than what’s available online.

Rather, with a group of people spatiotemporally engaged around a collection of web content, each work is able to present its own concept of itself. In this context, the individual book seems less about the web (or less about “webby” qualities) and more about the artist and the physical idea/action at hand (capturing, grabbing, collecting, archiving). And yet, the only thread that connects these 46 works is the web (specifically, the search engine). Once again, the physical book is performative. It acts as a container for an idea, and the printed page both frames its presentation and presents its interface. Does it sound like a reinvention of the book, of sorts? It kind of felt that way. It certainly felt fresh.

There was intense interest in some items more than others. Particularly—

American Psycho by Jason Huff and Mimi Cabell
AutoSummarize by Jason Huff
Occupy Wall Street by Ether-Press
My Apparition of a distance, however near it may be
Other People’s Photographs by Joachim Schmid
Postcards from Google Earth by Clement Valla

Here’s the full inventory, with links to the artists’ websites.

Meanwhile, the collection has already been referenced in the spring exhibition at the Centre des Livres d’Artistes in Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, France (PDF). I hope to present Library of the Printed Web again soon, at another venue, along with a talk about the emerging web-to-print-based practice.


The motive of the algorithm is still unclear

Raw notes from tonight’s talk at the New Museum, Stories from the New Aesthetic.

Aaron Straup Cope
The luxury of association
Elevator songs / whale songs / we assign value without meaning
The objects are recording stories
People are building stories around the things we collect
How we’re teaching things to see in the world and what’s bouncing back — patterns, bursting through
Crazy-talk narratives that can be shaped from those patterns
Automating the pattern matching
The inevitability of self self driving cars
Algorithms are emerging that people don’t know what to do with
Worrying that we’re building a future without narrative
Filters are the difference between flickr and Instagram / the past is just a medium, a screen to help make sense of the present
Massive feedback loop of the mirrored schroedinger’s box

Joanne McNeil
The Internet isn’t a mirror it’s full of lies and stories and fictions
The map weirdness / not errors but what you see through the looking glass
How machines tell stories to us
The act of reflection / people not recognizing themselves in daguerreotypes
Dora Moutot / webcam tears
Tears are the new pornography
Google street view going inside franks LA
Trap streets / streets that don’t exist

James Bridle
Demarerializarion of the book / we had no way to express our fear, so we obsessively focused on the physicality
The real worries are around the ownership and understanding
Amazon warehouse — a space that is augmented by algorithm / co-space / humans & software processing, architecture a function of the software
Nostalgia / a deliberate act of committing the image to memory / engraining photographs with grain, giving them weight, then sharing, sharing is a form of memory, giving if weight, like putting them in a box
The city & the city / unseeing, moments of breach, and yet we choose to layer images all the time
Intense cognitive dissonance apple maps
Trying to find ourselves in the satellite image
Clement Valla
Mishka Henner / Dutch landscapes
Data centers are the new civic architecture (post, admin) bots on wiki / automated agents
Co-creating the system with us: our machines
Drone project / shadows of real technology that acts from a distance
The velocity of the material / jenniferbrook / book vs app
Opinions are noncontemporary
Tarot cards / incredible machine and storage device for storytelling
The network is like that
William Gibson / notional space, cyberspace
Living inside the machine, inside the network