[iDC] "Wikipedia Art"

Andreas Schiffler aschiffler at ferzkopp.net
Tue Feb 17 15:53:00 UTC 2009

Hi Scott,

I think the actions against the project follow the traditional "art != 
information" view. Such a view would render the new page incompatible 
with Wikipedia as soon as Wikipedia is categorized as a database of 
information by the gatekeepers, a strict interpretation of an 
encyclopedia. This is I think the view which the Wikipedia gatekeepers 
have adopted and is likely a response to earlier fallout from media hype 
around poor quality of articles and other comparisons to more 
traditional forms of information collection. At that level, its 
collaborative functionality is probably treated as a means, and not an 
end. Similarly the internet is probably envisioned as a mechanical tool, 
rather than a legitimizing "natural environment" in which the 
performative art is embedded. Is there reconcilable "ideology" on either 
side of the fence?

Scott Kildall wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> There has been much talk about the "Wikipedia Art" project in various 
> online circles, blogs and lists. Trebor has asked me to write about 
> the project and the response for IDC.
> Here is an abbreviated history of the 
> intervention/project/collaboration. Note: this history is still being 
> written.
> *At 12pm (PST) on Feb 14th 2009*, Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern 
> launched the "Wikipedia Art" project, along with several 
> collaborators, including Brian Sherwin, Patrick Lichty and Jon Coffelt.
> An article appeared on Wikipedia -- called "Wikipedia Art" -- with the 
> following description:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Wikipedia Art* is a  conceptual art work composed on  Wikipedia, and 
> is thus art that anyone can edit. It manifests as a standard page on 
>  Wikipedia - entitled "Wikipedia Art". Like all  Wikipedia entries, 
> anyone can alter this page as long as their alterations meet 
> Wikipedia's standards of quality and verifiability[1]. As a 
> consequence of such  collaborative and  consensus-driven edits to the 
> page, Wikipedia Art, itself, changes over time.
> *Concept*
> Wikipedia Art is an art intervention which explicitly invites 
> performative utterances in order to change the work itself. The 
> ongoing composition and performance of Wikipedia Art is intended to 
> point to the "invisible authors and authorities" of Wikipedia, and by 
> extension the Internet,[2] as well as the site's extant criticisms: 
> bias, consensus over credentials, reliability and accuracy, vandalism, 
> etc.[3]
> Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern, Wikipedia Art's initiators, refer 
> to the work's publish-cite-transform feedback loop as "performative 
> citations." They maintain that the project "intervenes in Wikipedia as 
> a venue in the contemporary construction of knowledge and information, 
> and simultaneously intervenes in our understandings of art and the art 
> object".[2] The artists request writers and editors to join in the 
> collaboration and construction / transformation / destruction / 
> resurrection of the work, want their " intervention to be intervened 
> in."[2] Stern and Kildall say that "like knowledge and like art, 
> Wikipedia Art is always already variable."[2]
> *
> *
> *History*
> Wikipedia Art was initially created by artists Scott Kildall and 
> Nathaniel Stern on February 14 2009. It was performatively birthed 
> through a dual launch on Wikipedia and MyArtSpace, where art critic, 
> writer, and blogger, Brian Sherwin, introduced and published their 
> staged two-way interview, "Wikipedia Art - A Fireside Chat."[2] The 
> interview ended with Stern declaring, "I now pronounce Wikipedia Art." 
> Kildall's response: "It’s alive! Alive!" 
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Minutes later, *several online essays, interviews and blog postings 
> were released and then re-cited on the Wikipedia page, giving it 
> external "legitimacy"  and thereby initiating the feedback loop 
> described in the original article.
> Interview with Nathaniel Stern and Scott Kildall
> http://www.myartspace.com/blog/2009/02/wikipedia-art-virtual-fireside-chat.html
> Essay by Patrick Lichty "WikiPedia art?" (posted on Furtherfield)
> http://blog.furtherfield.org/?q=node/267
> A New Take on Art by Haydn Shaughnessy
> http://www.mediangler.com/2009/02/13/a-new-take-on-art/
> What is Wikipedia Art? by Jon Coffelt
> http://thewhole9.com/blogs/applestooranges/2009/02/14/what-is-wikipedia-art/
> *Within an hour*, the article was marked "AfD" (article for deletion) 
> for not adhering to Wikipedia standards. The Wikipedia process for 
> AfDs is to engage a debate about the Wikipedia-worthiness of the page 
> for a period of least 5 days until the Wikipedia community weighs in.
> *15 minutes later,* the pre-existing Wikipedia pages for Scott 
> Kildall, Nathaniel Stern and Brian Sherwin were also similarly tagged 
> with "COI" tags and "Citation" tags (a precursor to article deletion) 
> by the same Wikipedia editor that marked the Wikipedia Art article for 
> deletion. This action could be described as retaliatory.
> *In the next several hours,* a heated debate ensued on the deletion 
> page with sides weighing in on KEEP or DELETE. The core problem is 
> that many found the concept itself to be confusing. Did this point out 
> a hole in the authority-structure of Wikipedia? Is it a valid work of 
> art? Is it vandalism? Does it adhere to Wikipedia standards of 
> notability? Is it improperly self-referential? 
> http://wikipediaart.org/wiki/index.php?title=Articles_for_deletion/Wikipedia_Art
> *In the meantime,* several other online writers, responding to our 
> press releases calling for collaboration wrote articles of their own. 
> Here is a sampling:
> Hello Wikipedia, its the Blogosphere Calling
> http://twocoatsofpaint.blogspot.com/2009/02/hello-wikipedia-its-blogosphere-calling.html
> Digg's Way of Seeing
> http://diggydivision.tumblr.com/post/78355063/http-wikipediaart-org
> Look, See (2008) by Chris Ashley
> http://looksee.chrisashley.net/?p=1563
> *Also*, many people added to the Wikipedia Art page, providing context 
> and additional citations.
> *15 hours later,* "Wedna", an 18-year old Wikipedia admin promptly 
> deleted the page, violating Wikipedia's own requirement of a 5 day 
> period for AfDs. In his profile, he describes himself as: "An old 
> hand. I've been around since mid-2005"
> *in the wee hours of the morning*, two different people added 
> "Wikipedia Art" to the "Conceptual Art" page on Wikipedia. Both 
> entries are quickly removed.
> *Sunday, Feb 15th, is a bit of aftermath, some more threads appeared*
> "Help! I have created a monster" by the original Wikipedia editor 
> (this is not the 18-year old) who marked it Afd, where he expresses 
> feelings of despair over the mess. In various comments, we are likened 
> to three Ts: terrorists, trolls and Tristan Tzara
> http://wikipediaart.org/wiki/index.php?title=Village_pump
> Net-time Thread by Edward Shanken. Many responses follow.
> http://mail.kein.org/pipermail/nettime-l/2009-February/001221.html
> *Monday, February 16th *(*)*, more blog coverage gets propagated about 
> the intervention, noting its immediate failure or success.(**)*
> Media Arts Education by Daniela Reimann
> http://daniela-reimann.de/wordpress/?p=173
> Ethan Ham (Technology-based contemporary art)
> *http://www.ethanham.com/blog/2009/02/wikipedia-art.html *
> Wikipedia Art Lasts All Day! by Paddy Johnson
> http://www.artfagcity.com/2009/02/16/wikipedia-art-lasts-all-day/
> (*) this is the date of this posting on IDC
> (**) in phone conversations between Nathaniel Stern and Scott Kildall, 
> it was decided that "failure was an option"
> *Here is a link to the project*
> http://www.wikipediaart.org <http://www.wikipediaart.org/>
> I am most curious about YOUR thoughts on the "Wikipedia Art" project. 
> Do you see this project as one that points out an inherent problem 
> with the way that histories and knowledge is propagated? Or, does it 
> appear as a vandalistic act done by a "gang of artists"?
> I specifically invite discussion the larger issues that the project 
> raises: Wikipedia-as-entity, performative utterances in net-space and 
> the boundaries between intervention/vandalism/conceptual art.
> Best,
> Scott Kildall
> www.kildall.com <http://www.kildall.com>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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