[NetBehaviour] How is everyone?
lists at voyd.com
Thu Mar 26 17:09:10 CET 2020
Hi, sorry to have been lurking so much. Marc and Rob have seen that I check in a little on Facebook.
Here in Abu Dhabi, one feels really disconnected. Mainly because most people are here largely for professional reasons, there isn;t a lot of socialization and after five years, that gets old, even when you're married. Negin and I spend time, but she's also connected back to her native Iran a lot, and I'm working remotely, and with social distancing, the disconnection seems greater. It's nice that I have friends all over West Asia who check in a bit.
The UAE is really trying to flatten the curve. We have been in isolation for three weeks now, and on occasion I go out for groceries. Everyone is in masks, the malls are closed, restaurants deliver, and grocery stores are open 24/7. You walk up to one of those, and a masked subcontinental sterilizes your trolley, and when you check out, you have to use a tissue to key in the PIN on your debit card. The streets are largely empty. We are in stay home until the 9th. Negin's family in Iran are OK, but friends in Tehran have gotten the virus. Fortunately no one has gotten it bad.
The worst part of this is staying in the apartment. Even though I'm an introvert by nature, I need sunlight and wind; still.
In my art and writing, one thing that got my attention a bit was tje Art in the `````ge of Anxiety postinternet show at the Sharjah Art Foundation. Since everything is closed down, I'm waiting for the ban to lift to go see it as I want to possibly see some old friends liek Bailey, Rafman, Zaya.
But it also taught me something; actually a lot of things. I had a conversation with another of our tribe who has been around a long time and is largely in the Contemporary field, and I sounded some questions, and they said I was seeing things pretty clearly. In the 90's and early 2000's there was an online-ness to our worls, that was encroached on my neoliberaism, academically-incilcated artists who saw New Media as a fertile ground, and this, combined with hyperprofessionalism of the 2000's ushered in the assimilation of a lot of us into the artworld.
The sharing and collectivism that was the norm at the turn of the millennium, was wounded badly. Students in art schools were not thinking about what it was to be an artist in the social sense, but the obsession was ieth assistants, CVs, art fairs. Don;t get me wrong; artists need to live. But what I was disturbed by was the adoption f the art practice as business model that almost invariably sucks the life out of art so many times. Being an extended member of the NYC Fluxus family (not by my admission but their kidnapping me :) ) the fuction of art for me is a strange thing. I have never believed firmly in art as commodity/speculative object, as I think it is just that - speculative, and out here, I see how art is instrumentalized.
The irony is that with the spectre of isolation, economic collapse, all these things, I see people going back to the 90's, when there wasn't much money, and community was necessary. Personally, I actually love this.
But back to this conversation I had. My colleague said I was right - New Media got a little stale, but the neoliberal contemporary wasnt much better, and the best thing you can ever do is find your tribe and stick there. My biggest mistake here in Abu Dhabi/Dubai was to try to blend it with the glitz - I've never been shabby or unsociable, but not being true to myself sank a couple good projects. I've always been pretty solidly upper middle class, and a Zegna suit never fit me. Midwestern kid from a solid family, both at home and art-wise.
What am I making? a lot of AI, and a lot of machine drawings. Mainly with the current trends,, with having machines do 80% of my mark making, Chinese painters roughing in my paintings, I'm just investigating where I am and the technology is. A lot of it is on Instagram. Also working on a lot of VR/AR/Projection Mapping/video, and a few things for the Wrong.org.
But with the world situation, the isolation and all, there is a hope and sadness that permeates me. Someone on Nettime said that this si the first shot across the bow of the Antropocene. I believe this, and we better listen. At a seminar last Fall given by local critic Kevin Jones, we mused abotu the nature of apocalypse. I raised my hand, and bluntly said that it's nice that we chatt at our openings, drink wine and muse about these things, but if things don;t change, we are IN the early stages of the apocalypse, NOW.
This is why the hopeful return to community, and people like Greta Thunberg give me hope. Agency is what can save us, and I hope that in the coming years, authoritarianism will be seen for what it is, and we get serious about making us a worthy Kardashev 2 species.
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