[thingist] Fw: Re: What about a subjective, evolving, archive?

arfus greenwood arfus at thing.net
Sun Jul 18 16:33:11 UTC 2010

i'll chime in briefly here.


i am actually enjoying this discussion.

and i love the clarity of alan's recent post, joseph's diplomacy prior  
and ultimately justin's thoughts about handing it over and the  
subjective archive.

although i was not involved during the abc no rio days, i can  
instantly think of at least two separate stories that i could share  
about my experience with the thing...a horror story about  
collaboration (sorry wolfgang, i know that you hate it when i use any  
c-words) and a thriller story about covert actions. both of these  
stories could be linked to other players mentioned in the stories, as  
well as one archived project in particular and a couple of archived  

certainly, i agree that i lack the energy to become a card-carrying  
member of some kind of reinvention; but expending little more time  
than it takes me to write this post, i would be happy to contribute to  
a subjective archive.

as for anything that requires funding, the thing must possess a kind  
of vitality in order to be even considered, again. it is not enough to  
bank on its history. today funders have an actual category for "web"  
projects. and of the numerous submissions, those funded are a part of  
an active forum. when speaking to funders a couple of years ago, they  
actually said, "oh, i loved the thing. is that still around?" and then  
they visit the site, where i imagine they witness the lack of  
vitality...the lack of energy.

in this, i don't care which direction the consensus determines to  
take. once you have made your determination, i am happy to contribute  
in what ever way i can.

so give it to the kids. i like kids. they're messy.

and/or start a subjective archive. i like stories. i love wolf's  
candid photo documentation and some of the bbs exchanges are  
prophetic, hilarious and quite drama-filled. and in keeping with  
messy, allow contributors some autonomy in the form of their own  
pages, as well as their disparate content.

let's make a new mess. eventually in a mess, objects of likeness tend  
to cluster and then one has something, perhaps even the thing.

i guess the kid in me is still able to leap without looking.

all the best, arfus

On Jul 18, 2010, at 6:06 AM, Alan Moore wrote:

> hi Folks,
> moved to make some comment - although i lost my notes --
> maybe i am not on the right list here? dunno... -- we'll see -- i  
> get this at yahoo and at gmail -- symptomatic, actually, of the  
> depth of engagements at work, since Yahoo is my email for old lists,  
> etc....
> i read W's letter, and found it somehow sad... agree with some of  
> the critiques by people i've never met -- now i am in Hamburg for  
> some days, so it looks like i may meet at least one of the  
> "secessionist" thing-ers...
> in terms of life -- i agree with Joseph -- let the younger ones make  
> the determinations how to use thing
> Joseph was my compatriot, as was Wolfgang, in important self- 
> organized artist action in the 1970s and '80s -- ABC No Rio,  
> artists' cable TV -- this work also by the way remains largely  
> unhistoricized... ABC only because Marc Miller and i made the book --
> much of this book is now online at 98bowery.com -- very good, but  
> coming off an actual physical book, so the differences are  
> significant...
> for me the Thing has been first a mystery, and then a sporadic  
> engagement -- unlike James Allan, i never "hung up my six guns and  
> moved to town" -- i am still out there somehow, and masterless...
> but the difference between me and you is that i did not discover the  
> uses of the internet until very very late -- still i can't do much  
> on it, and what i have learned was at my occasional university jobs  
> when i had support -- but actually i do a lot of online work on my  
> project now, which is research on EU occupied social centers
> and that too is really unknown, or, rather historicized from  
> particular angles, and without any comprehensive reflection...
> i like the idea of Justin Berry -- it is a way to begin the process  
> of historicization, and that is very important, to begin... you can  
> begin openly, or -- really if you have a lot of money and staff, or  
> a person(s) who dedicate themself to it -- you can wait until it's  
> all together to make it public
> i also think it is good to let Steven Kaplan and "James Kalm"  
> continue -- they do what they do, and it is not nothing -- there is  
> also Douglas Kelley, who is part of what goes on at thing.post.net,  
> and has been for a long while... i used Kalm's work in my attempts  
> to understand the Brooklyn self-organized scene in the '90s and '00s  
> -- again, the world of markets and institutions does not care about  
> this, so nothing is done except by artists in the way of organized  
> remembrance and passing on of these experiences --
> and that is what it is about, is passing it on -- well, i am  
> sermonizing... but in Hamburg i am beginning to see that people are  
> and have been making art about making space, and that is a central  
> drama of our times, since as it opens virtually it is closed down  
> and reclaimed actually -- and the enclosure extends of course to the  
> virtual, as Rhizome is institutional, and Hamburg Thing is archived  
> -- not, as i have heard as a matter of choice, but because they lost  
> their funding because they were too political... and the politics is  
> cultural politics, the work to preserve space and money for open,  
> horizontal, democratic culture, not only the "winners" in the market  
> and institution games
> this was Toywar too -- the contest for virtual space, a successful  
> campaign without which Yes Men would not have been, or it would not  
> have occurred to them to do that --
> oh well, just to say, what was the thing is a very interesting  
> question - and it becomes only more interesting as time goes by...  
> what is the thing is a sort of mercurial fluid position at a moment  
> when things have hardened up all around us - and that, believe it or  
> not, is extraordinarily valuable -- eine offentliche Raum that  
> people pay attention to -- or not
> conclude? i think most constructive re. the blog is do nothing, and  
> also don't boycott -- put in some posts, maybe determine a  
> collective tack or theme... John Menick had and collected many ideas  
> for how to evolve it, prepared for grants -- if development gets  
> active, they can be revisited
> i have my private opinions, but i also post to thing.net and really  
> it is an important position for me -- where else should i go? i am  
> socially lazy, and don't go to the right parties now to meet the new  
> people
> about the thing past, go with the "subjective" cloud thing, and see  
> how that moves forward -- also it is important to make connection  
> with people who do this history for a living, and get them  
> interested in the thing as a project -- you know who they are, not  
> me, altho i can find out, and would help on this when the ball is  
> rolling... the very indefinition of the thing is what is so very  
> interesting about it.... a private public utility...
> i look forward to the screenings as a chance to meet and chat with  
> people i will surely like to know
> all the best,
> -am
> p.s. re Archives of American Art -- just dumping doesn't usually  
> work -- you need earlier preparation of materials... also maybe not  
> the right place, or, rather, not the only place -- needs a  
> consultation and investigation on this question
> On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:27 AM, Alan Moore <awm13579 at yahoo.com>  
> wrote:
> Alan W. Moore
> 123 Scribner Ave SI NY 10301
> cel : 917 574 8392
> working this project: http://occuprop.blogspot.com
> MWF video archive: http://www.brickhaus.com/amoore
> --- On Sat, 7/17/10, Joseph Nechvatal <joseph_nechvatal at hotmail.com>  
> wrote:
> From: Joseph Nechvatal <joseph_nechvatal at hotmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [thingist] What about a subjective, evolving, archive?
> To: thingist at mailman.thing.net
> Date: Saturday, July 17, 2010, 4:05 PM
> Justin,
> When I met you at White Slab, your creative energy, enthusiasm and  
> competence became quickly evident to me. Your idea below shows the  
> same level of talented verve, but I very much doubt that it will  
> manifest. Based on the first round of letters - and obvious  
> divergent positions held - my impression is that The Thing's early  
> members have run out of energy and would not rise to the occasion of  
> retelling the past. Nice as an idea it may be. The proposed  
> abandonment of the TT blog seems to indicate this to me, for example.
> I see two possible strategies left at the moment:
> 1) Pass The Thing on to a younger generation - as we did with ABC No  
> Rio - no matter how different the activities may be from the  
> founders original ideals and practices.
> 2) Fold the tent and give all materials to The Archives of American  
> Art ( see: http://www.aaa.si.edu/about/donating_papers.cfm ). This  
> allows professional archivists to preserve and communicate TT's  
> legacy - if it has one.
> I for one would like to see TT continue and improve, but I have  
> become too much the realist to expect it.
> Would like to hear other voices on these perceived two options, of  
> course.
> cheers
> Joseph Nechvatal
> Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2010 12:10:36 -0400
> From: justinberryart at gmail.com
> To: thingist at mailman.thing.net
> Subject: [thingist] What about a subjective, evolving, archive?
> I am new to THE THING, having only become involved in the last year  
> or so, working with W and Christoph on The.Thing.Net and the White  
> Slab screenings.   I became involved almost by accident--I was  
> recently out of graduate school and making non-salable and non- 
> exhibitable work, mostly web stuff, and feeling a bit chagrined  
> about the art world and its various camps of ideology.  I was  
> randomly surfing the web and sending out feeler emails to every  
> organization I could find that was involved in New Media.   Wolfgang  
> was the one who answered back.  I had no idea what THE THING  
> actually was. I went to look it up online and struggled to find  
> information, only coming up with numerous references to someTHING  
> but never an actual history or a literal description.  The most  
> glaring example of THE THING online was the Post, and I think enough  
> has been said about that.  It took a long time of being involved,  
> listening in conversation, and attending talks by Wolfgang, etc. in  
> order to really arrive at a sense of what THE THING was and what it  
> represented.   If it were not so tragic it would be humorously  
> ironic that an organization that did so much to galvanize thinking  
> about the internet as an artistic and political medium has no  
> functioning legacy online.  I think that a proper and academic  
> archive could potentially happen, but it will take a long time and a  
> great deal of work.  The nature of academia is to quest after a kind  
> of perfection, to create a source of objective authority.  Great!   
> That would be awesome.  In a few years it will be something we can  
> all be proud of.  I think something different needs to be planned in  
> the interim.
> What about creating a subjective archive?  What about creating a  
> nexus for the stories and narratives of THE THING.  It could be a  
> relatively simple interface, something like a data or tag cloud full  
> of links to various stories, where the only hierarchy might be  
> determined by font size.  People with a story to tell or an event to  
> document could create their own HTML page, with the only standard  
> requirement being a ‘back to home’ button of some kind.  The  
> advantage is that this would allow each person’s ‘history’ to be  
> acknowledged without necessarily privileging one or the other.  One  
> link might be called ‘eToy war’ and could be an account of those  
> events while another might be called ‘Justin Berry’ and include  
> simply my own experiences.  These pages don’t even have to share  
> styling, though we could certainly provide a CSS sheet for people to  
> use if they chose.  One person’s page might be a video, while  
> another person could choose to simply write an essay; an event might  
> be documented with only a series of contextless pictures.  Something  
> like this embraces the history of THE THING as a forum and a  
> platform.  This does not have to exist in opposition to a formal  
> archive; it can be an accompaniment to that project.  It also  
> requires less energy to happen.  Once a stable and functioning  
> interface is set up it can be left to individuals to create pages as  
> they wish.  Each contribution can be considered on its own terms.   
> It does not have to be ‘finished’, it can be an ever evolving  
> project as new pages are added.
> Perhaps this is only a selfish wish.  I would like to hear the  
> stories and see the history and I would like to have that kind of  
> experience sooner than later.  There should be an online presence of  
> THE THING’s legacy.  In my experience every time people attempt to  
> create an authoritative history of something there are a whole lot  
> of histories on the table and it takes a long time to negotiate  
> which ones stick around.
> Justin Berry
> -- 
> Justin Berry
> (713) 302 9599
> www.waymakergallery.com
> JustinBerryArt at gmail.com
> Waymaker at WaymakerGallery.com
> Hotmail has tools for the New Busy. Search, chat and e-mail from  
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> -- 
> Alan W. Moore
> cel: 917 574 8392
> 123 Scribner Ave SI NY 10301
> Summer of '10 in  Madrid, Hamburg, Berlin & etc. doing "House Magic:  
> Bureau of Foreign Correspondence" blogging at http://occuprop.blogspot.com
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