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Monday, October 25, 2010

How has the internet influenced your work as a writer or artist?

John Perreault’s Artopia Group on Facebook

June 15 – October 19, 2010

Participants (in order of first appearance):

Cassandra Langer

Grant Hayter-Menzies

A. Kimberlin Blackburn

Leanne Haase Goebel

Matthew Rose

Doctori Sadisco

David Richardson

Linda Mary Montano (poem)

Annette Rose-Shapiro

Jan Harrison

Suzanne Silk

John Perreault Introduction: Writing for the internet has influenced the way I write -- at least for the Internet. I find myself writing into the images, YouTube samples, links, and quotation of relevant chunks of text, sometimes ironically. These simple resources allow information compression and enrichment of the discourse. I see myself as composing multimedia and intertextual essays in a way that print, in spite of footnotes and full-color reproductions, does not allow. A change of degree is a change of kind. Sound files and video clips are game-changers.

Cassandra Langer Of course. I spend half my life responding to e-mail and reconnecting with old friends like you. But other than that I research a lot and am often surprised by what I find that I missed or didn't know about. Love u-tube-access is so much easier and communications more transparent and fluent than before. The ability to pluck images out of the air and in color is sensational and sexy after always having to deal with permissions and the idiots who often control rights and reproductions. So a freeing experience in many ways and a way to get work out despite the gatekeepers.

Grant Hayter-Menzies The internet has enabled me to do several things, quickly and cheaply:
- perform research for which I would have had to travel thousands of miles in the pre-internet age
- locate useful contacts and resources
- send materials instantly without relying on the mail (and in my case, even the USPS is faster than CanadaPost, but the internet is faster than either)
- do all of the above for a fraction of what it all would have cost before the internet existed.

A. Kimberlin Blackburn a blessing and a curse....LOL, i like how i get to see things i'd miss living on an island in the middle of the pacific. new friends on facebook putting up images of shows, fb friending critics & curators to "hear" discussions of art world issues is educational & inspirational. i have to use discipline to not spend time i'd otherwise be making art - that's the draw back. and of course a picture is a "2nd hand experience", so is sending images out as jpegs but curators are asking for the ease of it over slides. there is a huge opportunity for free pr. i feel the benefits far out weigh the drawbacks.

Leanne Haase Goebel Aside from the fact that few pay for work published on the internet and print publications aren't paying much either? I think the biggest influence of the internet is the immediacy. One must write about an idea quickly before it is old news. I also think it provides a freedom to post/publish work that may not fit in a print venue with limited pages and long lead times. I think we also have to say even more with less space, but we have the luxury of plucking images and uploading video to help tell the story.

Matthew Rose Absolutely. As I described, the project A BOOK ABOUT DEATH became a viral social phenomenon thanks to the Internet. We reached so many people in so many countries, the result was truly an international set of exhibitions (the newest one opens in Omaha on July 31) with about 2000 artists participating.

For my own work, ideas flow easily across the net as do images and texts. Rarely do I find myself rapidly looking at so many different artworks in person. The net becomes a massive filter/catalog of past and present, although images on screen tend to flatten everything aesthetically and historically, the advantages are formidable. Remember that only 100 years ago most folks had never seen European Impression outside of magazines. American impressionists picked up and moved to the area around Giverny to soak up the vibes. Now influence is a global phenomenon; you just find the sun in your own backyard and soak that up.

For sales, the Internet has been the most potent way of putting my work in front of interested collectors. An auction of my prints in Florida had folks bidding on them from Europe (where I live) while viewing them on the platform. Even eBay, craigslist, YouTube at the very least put work and ideas out in the world; and while every kind of work is now on a level playing field, without it you can't get your visual ideas seen. My print gallery, does a fantastic job of making my work known, and they do not have any kind of physical exhibition space.

As for writing, sadly I agree with the others here. Magazine and newspaper space is no longer as available to freelancers like myself; and the money has dried up. While writing for art sites on the net is easier, the pay is minimal and the views and response more dispersed. The audience is larger, certainly, but the reaction is diffuse. Jerry Saltz, however, is one art critic/writer who fuses his print life (NY Magazine) with FaceBook and is able to drive a discussion (whatever you many think of it) back and forth. In fact, FB has become a kind of well for Saltz and he seems to be one of the few writers to really embrace the net in terms of reactivity to his ideas and reviews.

The thing is, John, you can't go back...for better or worse, and I think you've clearly grasped that with your discussions.

Cassandra Langer The worse of it for writers who get paid to write is that you don't. It devalues writing by really good and thoughtful writers in favor of quick and superficial. To me that's the biggest drawback. On the other hand, I like that you can have your say without the gatekeepers.

John Perreault Matthew: Like the idea of a gallery without a physical space so checked out Your collages look great! Re: Mr. Saltz, although I sometimes disagree with him, I am a fan. His heart is in the right place and he writes nice... My Artopia stuff on Artsjournal is getting worldwide readers, which I love. And, as I like to say, writing for I now have more readers then I ever did when I wrote for the Village Voice and, guess what, I get paid even less. VV: $10 in '67; AJ: O...Unlike at the Voice, I do get to choose the pictures, the typeface and everything else.....In terms of the Internet, I am afraid we CAN go back --- think of having to pay 99 cents for every article in the N.Y.Times or wherever. Think of China stopping Google. We CAN go back; but who would want to? Back to what? Artforum and the New York Review of Books. I don't think so.

Sandy: No one every was paid very much anyway. Why do you think I had to teach and then go on to arts administration and such? In terms of valuing good and thoughtful writers, I don't think print did such a good job either. And as you admit we can now say what we want.

Cassandra Langer No argument there, John. If we expected to get paid we never would have been art critics. At least I make some money with print now after years of unpaid work for Woman's Art Journal. I too, had to teach in a place that was anything but receptive to new art. If I had not had the Winston-Salem connection I would have had to go to Atlanta and/ or D.C. or NYC to do any work. Moreover, when I moved to NYC after giving up tenure at U of South Carolina the freelance scene was pretty hairy too. So I know what you are talking about. Had I not taken an Appraisal Certification after getting here I probably would have been sitting on the curb with a tin cup--but I would have had lots of company. Now I'm finally finishing up on my Romaine Brooks book and doing what I love---writing, reviewing and having a life. I know you and Jeff are doing much the same. Thanks to the net we have presence and a following without having to kiss ass and roll over. And, we are absolutely never going back! Still I wish we could get the $1.00 a word writers hoped for back then. Writing for trade has also dropped off fee-wise so if you want to write--write for yourself and your following which you are doing.

Doctori Sadisco Here is what a friend had to say about the subject of the internet:

"I am of two minds about the Internet generation. I work with them every day so I know how shallow their knowledge-base is. I suppose the medieval Scholastic philosophers felt the same way about the Renaissance. Things turn over completely and knowledge is lost, at least for a time. They don't feel the need to internalize their knowledge since information is more accessible to them. They are obsessed with methodology at the expense of knowledge and understanding."

I think this has led to a generation which is in a real sense abstracted from literature. Where you and I might have a passion for modern poets, and can write experimentally, I sense their lack of interest in such matters.

So it affects me this way - I find myself part of an elite group of people who remain in touch with the idea of lineage and the thread that weaves us to a broad picture of the world and also of inner experience. Whether that means experiment with writing or with entheogens.

I find myself mocking the banality of such internet spaces as Facebook, and also understand how the language of the WWW has added to our palette. I feel today as did the early surrealists that utilizing the language of current times is important. If the knowledge I have and which I deeply feel and hold a connection to, is not among them, now I pray it will be in the future. Still I find talent on line, and it is not always recognized by the old school poets and writers, scholars and critics who abound in magazines and have books out.

Soon paper may be a thing of the past, and every person who wants to read will have something like an iPad. It may help the trees, but will it add to the crap we dump and from which its batteries will poison the world?

There are other ways I am affected by the internet in my writing, as access to my writing could never have produced nearly 39,000 hit sas it does today on my blog on Myspace. I hate words such as blog, and could never have hated such a word before the advent of the internet. But the difference between how many people may have read a poem of mine in, lets say, The World, St. Marks Poetry Project circa 1965, or today, staggers the imagination.

I also want to add that those of us who grew up before the advent of the World Wide Web and internet tend to embody knowledge. My intention through reading was to hold this knowledge within myself and express it to others. The internet tends toward methodology such as to how to run a game, and does not lend itself to internalization of knowledge, because of the sense that 'I will have any information I choose at my fingertips, so I do not need to embody or emotionalize it.' Information remains outside the mind and body to be accessed at will. I love what I read and I also love what I write. I love the act of writing a good poem. The internet doesn't force me to or cater to its charm and whims, but it beckons me to partake. My ace in the hole is that I have access to all that I have read through, scoured, been entranced by in my home and most of it would be called modern poetry, some books on art, some on media, but most are within the study of the psychic. over forty years worth. The internet becomes a new vehicle for what stories i have to tell, what poems I have to share. Has it changed my thinking, altered my writing skill? No. Has
it enabled me to buy books cheaply? Yes. Has it introduced me to new ideas? Yes.
Is everybody suddenly writing like e. e. cummings using only the small "i?" and no capitalization? yes.

Cassandra Langer Well said Sadisco and the dance goes on. I wonder how today's poetics will benefit from the short-hand of the net? I have yet to master all of them and confess to no real wish to do so. I am a lurker, watcher, always curious as to what's next in this brave new world of ours-I wonder about the wonders it has yet to treat us to. For myself, I am hopelessly in love with this denigrated culture of ours-western-unpacked and despite the critique still filled with awesome and wondrous gifts that I could not live with out and revisit frequently. The music, art, literature poetry and, Yes, the humanities that lack the methodologies that now make this insane world of ours go round. How are we to teach respect for all sentient beings, for life--hell for even having a life. My question remains in the midst of Sex and the City, etc. what are the values that make life worth living. Keep it simple as life is complex enough without making it complicated with nothingness (although some Buddhists would disagree). Nothingness is everythingness is nothingness which is the good thing!! Blake would say without desire we are nothing. I tend to agree. Good criticism, writing, poetry is about somethingness that desires being surprised, delighted and swept away. I truly hope that these do not disappear into the cheap and empty stuff that passes for writing and art on the internet a great deal of the time. The real deal being Cummings in his small room had a great deal to say--small i and all.

Doctori Sadisco Hi, Cassandra! I like to ask what people think the future will be like for the internet? Where is it headed? We could discuss the nature of this short-hand and its significance
to us as a civilization, since it is now part of the way people being brought up today think. How has it affected the way we project our thoughts to others? I think that as we head into faster and faster kinds of communication we are actually heading toward a future period of electronically based telepathy. Internet short-hand seems to rooted to the trivial as we project ordinary thoughts by thumbing tiny keypads. My vision is that eventually everyone will be sharing their most trivial thoughts instantaneously. This will yield the invention (already in existence) in which thoughts are transferred by choice from brain to brain.

David Richardson I like what Sadisco says about holding knowledge. That's what I look for on the web - the knowledge that people carry and express, and in a sea of triviality and superficial dreck, it's a thrill to come across real voices and real knowledge and experience. What would Andy say? In the future everyone will have their own glossy magazine?

Designer Issey Miyake, who never designed anything ordinary in his life, said this about his goals as a designer:

“I don’t design anything special. I’m often represented as inventing these unusual designs, when in fact I try to stay as far away from the ...unusual, the odd, as possible. It is the challenge of the age”, he says, “to maintain ordinary sensibilities.”

I'm always aware of the dreck, so I try to write as carefully as possible and to maintain those ordinary sensibilities. I appreciate family and friends all the more and try to live a local life with real people. I think of Wendell Berry and Wharton Esherick.

Doctori Sadisco Hi, David and Cassie and any others returning to read through this. It'd be nice if this discussion actually continued.

I can recall being around fourteen or so and hearing on TV that the advent of the computer would change everything for people world-wide. It would provide encyclopedic knowledge, making available all information on all subjects for everyone. I recall how excited I was by that. So I was among the first on my block to get a Mac when the screens were still gray and all-the-info-in-the-world was in typeface.

I remember writing directly into a window for the news group rec.arts.poems and getting feedback about how bad my spelling was and that there was no such thing as an "off-rhyme." (Such and Hush?) Then came a colorful interface through, was it Netscape? Things moved rapidly from that point on.

There came into being a new kind of neighborhood. The virtual neighborhood. Where you can join a semi-private group who were speaking about topics interesting to themselves. Entheogens was one such area I explored. I found myself having conversations with many kinds of minds. Some egotistical, some compassionate, some dogmatic, some open as the wind itself. There was always someone poisoning the barrel with pettiness, just like the street on which I live.

But something else was occurring. This had to do with the presentation internationally of a global consensus about the nature of human behavior and its consequences for life on Earth. There arose in me a hope for the future of humankind. It seemed as though not just all knowledge for all time was being made available, but that the ability to communicate world-wide with other souls who were in agreement about the most pressing issues had come into being.

This was a layer of this new phenomena called the Web. It was understood that the entire system is built upon a military network and that privacy was basically a moot point, it could no longer exist. That every keystroke of every human being using the internet was tallied statistically by the military of many nations, and that trends were being predicted from the information gathered.

I chose not to care. Thinking that what I have to say they can learn from. These new interfaces such as came to fruition via cellphone technology placed all-knowledge for all time at our fingertips regardless of location, other activity, triviality, importance, crisis and whatever else. So let the corporations, the governments, the military industrial complex look all they want. They enjoy control, fine, then let them do a better job of executing (their word) well-being for all life and all people.

A global mind. A web of electrical fibers and energy waves connecting us all is in its infancy. It is an infancy of a technology and that infancy is in the hands of an entity which can best be seen as a young teenager (humanity.) We have not arrived at the gate of the utopian future I perceive ahead. But I sense the potential of a kind of virtual sharing of what we are, brutal, ugly, selfish, unwinding toward kindness, beautiful, empathic beings of a universal mentality.

Cassandra Langer But not the Borg-I trust----wouldn't it be nice if we could dispense with the so-called world leaders and simply have a consensus that we won't pollute, we will help create sustainable economies for all and live in peace and harmony. Dream on but why not!

Doctori Sadisco Such a dream must become the reality. It seems to be the most improbable scenario imaginable but...... any obstruction to its completion is contemptible.

David Richardson It certainly does seem improbable. I had an exchange this morning that ties in with these thoughts. I've been at a Furniture Society conference for the past 4 days being held at MIT in Cambridge, Ma. I met a friend early and we decided to get some breakfast things at a small market in the student union to take outside. Beebe was on line with an Indian looking gentleman in front of her and one in back. I walked up and asked if the gent behind would mind if I joined my friend on line. He said no, but would we mind if he joined his friend who was the guy in front of Beebe. So we shuffled around and then all looked at each other, laughed, and agreed it was a wash - equal and fair and to everyone's benefit. The guy said, wouldn't be nice if all the world's problems could be solved so easily. It was amusing and being at MIT, I imagined that these guys maybe were actually working on the world's problems.

John Perreault I am amused by Doctori Sadisco's story about early internet use. His "feedback" stating there was no such thing as off-rhyme (e.g. "such" and "hush") is the kind of half-truth that the internet can sponsor. It is no secret that, for instance, Wikipedia (written by all) can be wrong; the next step to take is to understand that even old-fashioned encyclopedias can be wrong, are wrong, etc. I don't know who put the whammy on off-rime, but of course there is off-rhyme; please take a good look at Emily Dickinson. Also, I'd like to comment on David Richardson even imagining that "these guys maybe were actually working on the world's problems" because they were at M.I.T. If anything, they were probably creating more problems. I am not quite sure how all this relates to how the internet may have influenced how we now write or make art, but it is very interesting indeed that on Facebook, of all places, we have an art historian, a poet, and a furniture artist sharing their thoughts. What will this lead to?

Cassandra Langer What already exists here. A meeting of minds who actually think and process. Isn't that what John Dewey meant by the LIFE of the mind. I agree with John that MIT types are probably creating more problems than they are solving. G-d knows this has been true in art given the October group and their will to world domination (just joking seriously). Nevertheless, dear ole Facebook is a kind of global meeting ground where we can air old and new and all possible worlds. That can't be a bad thing and who knows what may grow out of this soil? At MIT - like the Holiday Inn Express ads. The parable of the checkout line. Anyway, next year's conference is in Vegas.

Doctori Sadisco First, Mr. Perreault: Yes I was told there was no such thing as an end-rhyme which could be "off." But I had on-hand my Poetry Handbook! (Since lost!)

Wikipedia: Here is an example of why scholastic knowledge is important as one can be misled on the internet easily and become the dupe who transforms history inadvertently.

Influence of any of this on my writing: Yes and no. The world wide web is dizzying in its scope. It contains lies, half-truths, opinions given as fact, taste given as dogmatic certainty, and the internet can be a barometer of the heart, soul and mind of man, for those with the ability to see it.

My writing is influenced by these issues as I often write about it, and it has shaped my thinking and what I desire from a poem. The effect it might have. The proverbial hammer blow it might deliver, the shaping or transforming element which may or may not penetrate the thickest mind-set.

The idea that the internet can allow a poet, art historian, and furniture artist sharing thoughts, is functionally identical to sitting at Cafe Figaro on Bleecker Street around 1964, in fact, it is thus for any place I have had such dialogues in the past.

On line, however, words and opinions seem to have become misleading. How often has any of us experienced being completely misread by someone we were joking with on line? Suddenly there is the explosion of anger, or emotional wounding from a thought expressed which intended only the friendliest meaning?

Without the cues of natural expression one must be careful how to present one's thought or there might be trouble.

As for the original high-schoolish query, "How has the internet affected my writing,"
isn't it in the very permutations of processing this among our peers which is in itself the shaping force of the internet upon our writing?

Lastly, to me the internet represents an encapsulation of the society at large. How many pools of thought and influence exist on line where each of us on John's list do not go and feel we do not belong? The internet seems to be a collection of pockets or pools of thought in which people in agreement on some topic or issue can gather and feel at ease to communicate their opinions to one another. Whether these are hate groups, artist groups, styles of music, M.I.T. physicists,

One thing I refuse to participate in is role playing. However, we do that unconsciously, even here. So John Perreault, poet, etc. Could you embellish upon how the internet has influenced your writing? Has it changed the way you present your thoughts when you write into Images, Youtube and the like?

Perreault: Yes. [Added later.]

Doctori Sadisco. Cassandra, Yes. What exists here is exactly as you describe. In an ocean of human minds a few can find in each other, briefly, a glimpse of the possible. I am more aligned with the possible than the improbable. I believe there are some at M.I.T. who delve into the methodologies for badder bombs, but isn't Noam Chomsky also at M. I. T? He used to be anyway. There's the scale again. Some good, some bad, just like us. Dear old Facebook seems to have exploded on its own in popularity. To me it is kind of the story of Beta versus VHS tape. The Beta was a much better product, but we went for the regular VHS tape perhaps due to promotion? Myspace versus Facebook? Myspace is graphically far superior. It's interface works really well. It lends itself to poets who want to "Blog" there. Facebook requires the loss of form if it is of an unusual style - let's say sentences stepped down like stairs. It'll throw it all to the left margin, making it into a column. It is an issue of formatting. Myspace holds the poems' true form. But everyone is over on Facebook, just the same, yakking about blueberry muffins (Mmmm) and what they are doing for dinner. My writing? It goes to Myspace, not Facebook. That is one influence - er, John?

Cassandra Langer Mutations---I'll have to try Myspace again---Twitter, whatever floating crap game is in town. I like the "sentences stepped down like stairs" nice turn of a phrase, Doc. Frankly all of it takes time that could be spent writing, painting, etc. I too am curious as to how John's writing, criticism has been ignited or transformed by all these open spaces even with various boundaries that do fence you in. I don't think it is cafe life on Bleecker or elsewhere as I don't have to buy the glass of wine or whatever and I can still afford the pleasure of the chat.

Doctori Sadisco Better than a coffee house? You are right, when I look at it that way. I can be wolfing down whatever I want from the fridge right now and having this nice chat with completely unknown entities. Am I really a Doctori Sadisco, born unto those infamous Sadiscos? I'm not, of course. It is a Nom De Plume brought about by a joke with my ex girl-friend while she still lived. So it stuck, more as a homage to our friendship which outlasted our girlfriend-boyfriend status. Here on line we talk in a sense of sharing which goes beyond personal boundaries and identity. Is this important? Or is it like meetings on a Greyhound bus with someone you will never again be involved with?

Who are you? Who am I? Who is John Perreault? Who is David Richardson? Why are we even bothering with this discussion? Wanna know how we each are influenced by the internet - in our writing, lives, thinking, trust, allegiances? Here we are, strangers on a keypad, writing into a space defined by ones and zeros, and which cannot be fathomed by any of us. Half truths are merely our opinions taking form, and that is good, not bad. I am glad you and David are here and that John stimulated this. I like these kinds of pastimes.

Cassandra Langer So when it the "re-union" going to take place? Face to face is better, of course. The visuals always add depth and dimensions not available on line but short of this I have found an active community here. And I can communicate day and late into the night after work is finished and inspiration wrung out---without traveling to the city as I live in Jackson Heights, NY and like to have the travel time to work and think. We are strung all over the place and this little cyberspace allows for a wider reach and interesting minds that I would probably never come in contact with. Many of my Manhattan friends are soooo provincial. Queens is a continent away and yet they travel to continents for "experiences" and profit next to nothing if you know what i mean. It always amazes me. And, John you may recall that you and Jeff told me when I left my tenured position at South Carolina that I had to be in Manhattan. I didn't understand exactly why at the time. Of course, I do understand the limitations posing as sophistication now---but I did move into Manhattan and got the picture. Now I don't need or care.

John Perreault Trying to catch up with the discussion: The internet has certainly influenced the way I present my thoughts -- writing into images, etc. But more importantly there are ways in which it has changed the thoughts themselves. Writing into images is not neutral. It might be like writing a poem after you have selected the illustration. It jars and unsettles the mind a bit. And as the format I use on Artopia --- I can now track it by going back in the archive -- has changed, so have I. I suspect that my idea of picturing art history as a braid rather than as a staircase or even a helix -- an idea that I found I shared with my new internet friend, artist, art historian, and art critic Mark Staff Brandl, who (how internet!) lives in Switzerland and teaches in Lichtenstein -- may have been inspired by the internet and the kinds of complexities and multiplicities that can happen. For instance, you can, if you want, see several texts and/or images simultaneously.

I have always been drawn to counterpoint and polyphonic music whether Baroque or jazz and for awhile (actually since the '60s) have been experimenting with multiliniar verse and even prose. A novel I have been working on the last five years is decidedly polyphonic. Now I find that what I have allowed myself to do on Artopia is related to both my poetics and my view of art history: I braid. I interweave at least three themes/subjects/exhibits in each essay. Sometimes more than three. I assemble the text from three or more strands. The blocks of text are not usually written in the order of their final presentation. And, as I have already hinted, I usually have the "illustrations," links, and YouTube videos selected in advance.

When I was the art critic for the Village Voice in its Golden Years there were two irritations: 1) the staff photographer chose the photographs and they never referred to what I was writing; 2) the editor came up with the headlines, often absurd. Now I choose my own photographs and come up with my old headlines. I have as much or more readership now than I did then --- and it is worldwide -- and I get paid even less.

Not understanding that the first person pronoun is the easiest way to create a persona, Voice readers would tell me they felt they really knew me because of my columns. The link to readers is much more direct on the internet than the link created by newspapers. This has nothing to do with back-and-forth entries or blogging as it is usually thought of. In fact, I do not allow comments on Artopia on the site itself. I don't think what we are doing here now on this Facebook discussions wall is blogging per se either. I don't know what it is.

In terms of my own art, I am mostly doing circumambulations now rather then physical artworks, using documentation of the kind that You-Tube or allow or no documentation at all. And, oh, yes, pretty much have given up the idea of a book or books of collected art criticism, since it is likely that everything on the internet will continue to be saved in some "cloud" forever and be available to all. There are some dead spots I need to work on -- much of my writings on art for the Village Voice and then the Soho News is still not easily accessible -- but everything on Artopia is archived on Artopia (i.e. and can be Googled and I recently discovered all of Artopia on, a nonprofit that aims to archive every website that does not forbid "spiders."

Also, in case you missed the news in April, Twitter has donated its entire archive of tweets, along with continuous updates, to the Library of Congress, where after a six-month embargo all contents will be available to "qualified researchers." Apparently the entire archive is already available through Google, but I haven't figured how to access it. Actually, I haven't even figured out the best way to use those 140 character, public "telegrams" yet. Yoko Ono has; she has 908,419 "followers."

Time, place and space are destroyed. Self-publishing is no longer anathema. And this is just the beginning. In coffeehouses now people sit in front of their Apple portables and sip really expensive coffee. Even at the old poet's hangout Veselka in the East Village I saw three young people at a table with their portable computers open: two guys and a girl. They were waiting for the fourth, who did finally arrive --- with her computer. She barely said hello before she started logging something or another. They ordered food, date and all four stayed on their computers the whole time, not once talking to each other. I still wonder if they were communicating with others elsewhere or just communicating with each other via computer although they were all sitting at the same table.

David Richardson I think the braid as a way of understanding art history is brilliant and useful. Having first learned of it on Artopia, I'm now good internet friends with Mark Staff Brandl and his own flavor and approach to his art and writing has added to my understanding. It occurs to me that this concept could reflect an evolution in thinking well suited to the information environment of the internet age. I believe I'm using this insight in my furniture designs. I thought of it as cubist influenced at first, but I believe it's also braid theory in action. The last piece I completed I titled "Views of the Hozu River" and it is both a functional cabinet and a kind of 3 dimensional painting. I combined painting, silkscreen, intarsia panels (like inlay, though with larger sculptural elements), and the form itself, though derived from a classic New England examples, was developed with layers of reference (in the details of moldings, turnings, proportions, techniques), so it becomes a reflection on historical work. And it isn't like I had this idea and then executed it. It developed slowly through the design and making process over several years and a number of pieces, and the results have been a surprise to me in many ways. So I guess I can say my furniture design has changed as a result of the internet. Of course it could be that it's just a confused piece of work with too many references, but I truly think I'm channeling a thinking process that is different and is a result of the environment.

And by the way, there's a new exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Ma. called “The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft,”, curated by Fo Wilson. There are objects with video screens in them, and objects that explore digital information in interesting ways, like Sonya Clark's large image of a face made by nothing but simple combs where teeth have been removed to create the image. There are basket like structures that use online data as their starting point (my first impression was that these were effective formally but had little to do with digital information). I've seen the show once but would like to go back and explore it again in light of this discussion. I think some of the responses are very literal and traditional, but others could reflect some new directions in thinking based on the digital and internet environment.

Linda Montano

First Poem by Linda Montano:


Admittedly we are all sensing a pre-renaissance black-out, a "dark age" with recognizable and historically accurate symptoms witnessed by historians of the fall (and/or transformation) of other dynasties teetering on the brink of armageddon.(The Roman ,Ottoman, German, British Empires perchance?)


Can't we all agree that in this 21st century, we are communally experiencing a bad taste and aftermaths from universally experienced phenomena such as:


Financial fumblings, cultural buffooneries, pervasive paranoia, modified mea culpas, bipartisan shenanigans, uncompassed morality, bipaped starvations, political circus acts, theological tsunamis, global tamperings, cyclical catastrophes, faux apologies, misleading marketing, conspicuous consuming, muddled multitasking, apocalyptic battering, padded documenting, salted wounding, power shifting, self loathing, hierarchical covering, pious grandstanding, spasmed tremoring, bankrupted dreaming, disintegrated remembering, virtual relating, techno crazing, outrageous compensating, congressional bullying and foreclosed trust!


Diseased despondents, surrendered suicidals, unheld newborns, hooded jihadists, fundamental fanatics, antsy therapists, inattentive nannies, selfish narcissists, bonused buddies, media darlings, unconscienced thieves, suffocating egoists, discarded seniors, trafficked innocents, self inflicting terrorists, vulnerable victims, jolly junkies, over dutiful daughters, celebrity addicts, killer drones, spiritual materialists, scheming CEOs, interminable visitors, jealous sisters, stubborn students, lying boasters, ungrateful patients, cyber bullies, skeletoned anorexics, emotional mutes, nasty narcissists and miserable millionaires!


Creepy oppressors, hypersexual prowlers, Holocaust deniers, death cheaters, begging borrowers, scud sharp shooters, carbon foot printers, attention mongers, greedy brokers, depressed designers, public apologizers, prepared preppers, subcutaneous cutters, sophomoric obsessors, inappropriate responders, furious professors, tormenting victimizers, parent starvers, neurotic neighbors, reputation slanderers, magnetic womanizers, surprise attackers, glad handers, halitosed dancers, grid locked commuters, grieving skaters, arrogant outsiders, soul sellers, gift refusers, aggressive reporters, sloppy visitors, pill stealers, animal abhorrers, hate disseminators, stinky passengers, authority balkers, sloppy foodmakers, name callers, energy suckers, germ spreaders, information secretors, junk hoarders, saccrine sympathizers, sweaty hand shakers, misguided worshippers, internet scammers, morphed murderers, obese outsiders, child abusers, frozen floormatters, dysfunctional reconfigurers, beauty kidnappers, unread biographers, gender assaulters, monumental mistakers, satanic afflicters, silent contemptors, counterindicated elders, hungry survivors, childhood stealers, guilted enjoyers, ponzi schemers, medical compromisers, careless caregivers, enraged partners, jailed minors, paralyzed players, unemployed loners, adulterous trespassers, vaccinated teenagers, double crossed informers, technological traumatizers, disabling humiliators, monetary misusers and nose pickers!


Oh, our poor bodies/minds are dodging the toxic arrows of it all! Dodging thoughts about pcb's and thoughts of no more potable water or no more fish or ice-sliding-glaciered polar bears! Thoughts about what to do about our arthritic thumbs twittered to spasm. Thoughts about ourselves and the suffering others! Not only thoughts but also memories of once looking in the mirror at our faces sweetly smiling back with innocent anticipation of a McDonalds. NO MORE. In preparation for a post-modern re-look at Revelationed-robotization, our current faces are facebooked/addicted into social shyness, not to be relieved by a 1970's Kumbayaah singing picnic on a green, chemical free lawn. That chapter is closed, my friend.

Now, our poor bodies, steel-tight with earthquaked fear of the next day's news or trembling over the calories and sugar content of the morning's Starbucks or tripping out of buildings quickly when rumblings at yet another fault-line are recognized by sensitive dogs,....our battered bodies.... run on PTSD/empty seeking refuge in second-lifed, C-PAPED-accompanied nightmares.


But wait, out of this harrowing scenario of a reality show gone bad, comes Hope?


LINDA MARY MONTANO, 2010 Saugerties, NY

Doctori Sadisco This poem I can truly appreciate. Thanks for sharing it. To me this represents a real purposeful use of the internet. That we can say these things, show how fully aware we are, and impress those with like minds. Maybe create waves with those who disagree.

I find myself writing and reading about life beneath the heel of general world-wide oppressiveness and befuddlement. John, I feel the ominous portent of a dark period for us, and as you and so many others suggest, it is a cycle of history. An end and a beginning.

This whole Maya thing impresses me by how horrified people are about what might take place in 2012. A shift of the poles - for instance. What my hope for the future of humanity is that we learn the lesson of Empathy once and for all. Yet it is apparent to most of us that unlearning selfishness seems impossible.

Frank O'Hara pointed out that we band together in states of emergency. Such as the Gusher in the Gulf. Many kinds of issues get temporarily set aside, like racism, to save the shores, or with Katrina, to save other humans. We have no idea about how many heroic acts occurred, but will dote negatively on how many cruel acts went down.

I have a glimmer of hope. I see that this period is a bust, and my hope is that the process of embracing empathy will come later - in a hundred years maybe. Then, again, who knows? If we still exist as a species maybe we'll be the Borg?

Two of you broached the idea of weaving and braiding in your perception. That friend I first quoted just completed a book now available from FONS VITAE Press.
It is called "The Thread-Spirit, The Symbolism of Knotting and the Fiber Arts by Mark Siegeltuch.

Tuck, as we like to call him has spent years studying the work of Carl Schuster and Ananda K. Coomaraswamy whose research this book is based upon. Knotting, Braiding, weaving, designing, all come from very ancient humanity. He described this to me as the first language of a universal nature among human beings. That in ancient times the clothes we wore expressed our genealogy and eventually became the symbolic system of spiritual states as well. One example is the tracing of the idea of an Axis Mundi, to early string drills which have exactly the same form as depicted in the larger poles and dancers in folk traditions. Anyway, i suggest this book. Mark considers it to be the greatest story never told.

David Richardson Beautiful poem. Here's mine for the 21st c. ---somewhere between a Japanese tea bowl and Cy Twombly.

Annette Rose-Shapiro The internet has given me access to jobs that I wouldn't have found otherwise. I edited a website for an entrepreneur in Hong Kong, wrote a chapter on the Le Marche region of Italy for a guide book published in New Zealand, wrote two e-books for a company in Canada, etc. Also, I can easily do research that would have been impossible, geographically or time-wise. I haven't yet had any projects writing for actual websites that has changed my style of writing or forced me to learn SEO. More importantly, the internet provides a chance to launch an e-zine that would have been cost-prohibitive to print.

Doctori Sadisco Hello Annette Rose-Shapiro! Italian food, Mmmm! zooming around the world via internet! e-zine? which e-zine? can i submit poems? can i subscribe? is it free? free free frreeee?

John Perreault Thank you Doctori Sadisco for The Thread Spirit tip. Will try to locate book. David, I clicked through to your "poem." Looks great....Hi, Annette....

Jan Harrison Yes...The internet has affected and influenced my work as an artist.... Since 2009 I have been working on "The Corridor Series," over sixty pastel on paper paintings of Primates, and other animals. As the works on paper continued, I posted many of the images on my website and on Facebook. Seeing them all together, I realized how one animal image changed slightly to become the next one, and the next one, and on and on. I am planning to combine them in a video, as one figure becomes the next, and they go through a metamorphosis.

"Animal Tongues," a language I speak and sing, has been recorded and included in videos with my visual art. I perform it with animal sculpture heads. It has been videotaped, and is shown online in various blogs, on Facebook, on a gallery website, and on my website.

For over a year I have been posting thoughts on Facebook, and they have become verbal art pieces in some ways. For instance, for months I posted: "Jan Harrison is an animal.... and ...." including different statements about being an animal, some humorous and some serious..

Through Facebook, blogs, and other avenues on the internet I've been able to meet many people, and have developed friendships in various countries all over the world. Also, I have been able to become more active in causes I care about. It is easier to meet, communicate, and to make a difference.

In my art using my hands, and caressing the surface, is very important, to allow the Beings to emerge. It is very non-tool oriented...just using my hands. I like being able to combine technology with paintings and sculpture, being able to connect opposites in a sense, by combining the works with aspects of technology, to create ways to show it on the web.

Suzanne Silk I spend more time creating on the computer than on the easel... my hands + feet stay much cleaner...

Jan Harrison Suzanne, Hands + feet stay much cleaner on the computer, that's for sure! I spend more time on the computer than I used to......I know you were not using the term 'easel' literally, but your comment reminded me...I work on the floor, not on a table, and not on an easel. I've always worked on the floor.....The video I mentioned earlier has been completed, of the pastels of the primates moving and changing.

Suzanne Silk Hi Jan...there is intelligent life on the internet, after-all.
Will look at those pastels.