[iDC] "Wikipedia Art"

Joshua Davidson jddguvnor at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 17 20:04:47 UTC 2009


Congratulations on successfully drawing another lurker from safe obscurity to
scary scrutiny.  I'm currently working in the digital team of a large PR
agency however in what feels like a previous life, but was actually only two
years ago, I studied an MA in Digital Art at Norwich School of Art and Design
in the UK.

I spent a great year learning about all manner of exciting possibilities for
digital art works and must admit I was most excited by Lev Manovich's soft
cinema and anything and everything Nam June Paik was involved with! 

However when it came to my final project, faced with the prospect of trying to
make my living as an artist, I started to explore ways that I could sell work.

The current discussion, gives me an ideal opportunity to mention it again and
after waiting around two and a half years to do so I hope you will forgive me
if it comes across as self promotion.

Although the execution of my idea was very different to the one I’ve just read
the concept is very similar.

The idea I came up with for my final masters project was that of using wiki's
in conjunction with paintings.  I placed a web url within my paintings
which led to a wiki website.  This online space brought people together to
discuss the work and form a history of thought about the painting.  

The paintings themselves were highly symbolic. I created them using a series of
smaller paintings that represented various chapters of a story I had
written.  I had used these paintings to texturise a virtual 3D environment
and then created a piece of machinma set within this world.  The effect
was that the symbols converged and new stories, for me, were born. I then
painted these stories.


my finished works to a wiki commented on my relationship with the paintings and the work to a viewer. Collaboration on a 'definition' of the paintings
proved to be a bit unrealistic at the time.  The paintings, which were so highly symbolic, didn’t
stimulate much debate, as it was necessary for someone to read the book and
study the database (partially available at my now clunky two year old Flash
site, http://www.thewikiartist.com) to feel like they could contribute fully to the work, when in fact as Scott says, any change to the wiki would affect the artwork.


from my BA show (http://videoludica.com/news/gamescenes/game-art-joshua-davidson) indicated that
this might happen, but at the time I was still hopeful.


Anyway if anyone would like to learn more about this I would be happy to send
them the essay I wrote at the time.

Here is a partial explanation of the show:

My current practice, takes one of the ideas that this wiki project
touched on; the nature of hybrid realities.  Placing my paintings in strange environments where, through
mobile internet, people would be able to see both the physical reality of the
painting and the digital discussions.

Kindest regards to all of you who have educated and delighted me over the past
couple of years.

Joshua Davidson


From: scott at kildall.com
To: idc at mailman.thing.net
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 21:52:13 -0800
Subject: [iDC] "Wikipedia Art"

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.
ConceptWikipedia 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]
HistoryWikipedia 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 Kildallhttp://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 Shaughnessyhttp://www.mediangler.com/2009/02/13/a-new-take-on-art/
What is Wikipedia Art? by Jon Coffelthttp://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 Callinghttp://twocoatsofpaint.blogspot.com/2009/02/hello-wikipedia-its-blogosphere-calling.html
Digg's Way of Seeinghttp://diggydivision.tumblr.com/post/78355063/http-wikipediaart-org
Look, See (2008) by Chris Ashleyhttp://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 Tzarahttp://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 Reimannhttp://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 Johnsonhttp://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 projecthttp://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.
Scott Kildallwww.kildall.com

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