[NetBehaviour] a little project

Michael Szpakowski m at michaelszpakowski.org
Thu Apr 13 15:13:09 CEST 2017


https://www.flickr.com/photos/szpako/albums/72157676652502324



 Last summer, after a gap ofsome years, I started running daily again. I did this because I had stoppedtaking a small dose of an antidepressant and although I was careful to withdrawslowly it hit me hard - I experienced a renewed depression and anxiety whichwas much worse than that which I had originally taken the drugs to combat. Iwas unwilling, though, to return to the drugs if I could possibly avoid this.The running helped me copeand, as I get slowly better, continues to do so.In early 2017 I starteddocumenting some of my runs using the ‘measure distance’ function on Googlemaps,  taking a screenshot of theresulting image and posting it to the photo sharing service Flickr. I have beeninterested for a long time in things that somehow hover between image, diagramand text and this seemed like a fruitful example of that. Once I’d made andposted a few these it seemed only natural to append to the image somecommentary on my run, things and people seen and noted, my state of mind, theweather… a kind of highly compressed diary superimposed on the rundocumentation and something which fitted with my long standing interest in theway that the internet allowed very naturally for long form aggregations ofoften diverse and lapidary components. (For years, from 2003 to the presentday, I have been making small videos and posting them to the internet, apractice I have compared to the Japanese literary form Zuihitsu, literally‘following the brush’ - a kind of miscellany.)Each piece takes quite along time to make and I’m very conscious of working against the clock tocomplete and post each one. I’m also mindful that, although I work hard to makemy texts flow, sometimes, to meet my self-imposed requirement of posting on thesame day as I run, I have to accept a certain improvisatory quality (whichmight be a polite way of saying the texts are not always as polished as I wouldideally like.)I was deeply involved inalmost the first wave of ‘net-art’ - it brought me into image wrangling andgave me an opportunity to have people look at my work and even to get it shownin institutions too. I’m saddened by the now overwhelming corporatisation ofthis space which has, it seems to me, destroyed many of the possibilities forart which were so exciting in the late nineties of the last century and theearly noughts of this one. Much digital and networked art now seems to requirelarge amounts of tech and funding and to have moved closer and closer toeverything many of us felt was disagreeable and backward looking about the artworld. Little of it now lives on the net. The kind of enthusiast I was wouldnow get channelled into spaces specifically made for ’enthusiasts’, for‘amateurs’ - the kind of intermingling that was completely natural back thenhas almost completely disappeared.One of my responses ( theother is to work in more traditional practices, such as painting) is to try andmaintain a toehold in places like Flickr, which although certainly corporateand equally regarded by both art world commentators and those who own it as aspace for the masses rather than the charmed circles of the art world,nevertheless retain, if one looks carefully, echoes of that earlier promise.One finds artists, who, whether they would style themselves such or not, aremaking work of depth and lasting interest as well as in some sense pushing backboundaries.Finally I want to say I haveno idea whether this work is any ‘good’. I know I have a need to make it, Iknow that on my good days it seems worth making and it seems to me to offersomething that, if not original (what is? what is? - we had *that* brought hometo us forcefully by the network, and a good thing too), at least synthesises anumber of practices in a way which still seems native to the internet as wellas drawing on some interesting tendencies in contemporary art, particularly thekind of romantic conceptualism I associate with Richard Long and Sophie Calleas well as with groups like Collective Actions. If you have a moment pleasetake a look. It’s a big ask but if you have time I would welcome your thoughts,whether positive, puzzled or negative. best wishesmichael
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