[thingist] subjective / objective TT archive + blog

Joseph Nechvatal joseph_nechvatal at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 19 16:43:17 UTC 2010

 Some good points have been made. I think it is possible to pursue both Justin's idea of a historical storybook AND look for a home for the rest so that it is kept together, preserved and worked in/on by a younger generation of art historians and archivists. 
Another option for that idea of an objective stable archive to house the TT collection might be New York University's Fales Library Special Collections ( fales.library at nyu.edu ). It already houses the archives of many Downtown-specific artists and groups. If anyone saw the Carlo McCormick show "The Downtown Show: the New York Art Scene from 1974 to 1984"  - in consultation with Lynn Gumpert, and Marvin J. Taylor that was held at NYU's Grey Art Gallery and Fales Library - you saw a bit of their holdings. I think it a good context for The Thing.
On the blog. I am with Alan. I use it (need it) and look at it. So, perhaps let's not kill it off?

Joseph Nechvatal   

Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2010 17:32:33 +0200
From: kasbah at thing.net
To: thingist at mailman.thing.net
Subject: Re: [thingist] What about a subjective, evolving, archive?


Very interesting points, Alan.

Justin I also like your idea, it could be a really effective kick-off
idea for the archive, setting things in motion and making the process
of archiving a more collaborative undertaking.

indeed, a historicisation-in-progress. Yes it would be great to have a
paid full-time person conducting this - but unfortunately we don't have
this and funding -given the mess, as Arfus calls it- seems very
difficult at this moment.  Less difficult it seems to distribute a few
tasks of organizing / coding...

Joseph's AmArtArchive suggestion could be tried out without excluding
this effort, in fact I am curious to hear what art archivists say about
an archive-art piece. To my understanding that's how the old bbs is

Nonetheless still believe step one would be to "warp" the old thing
into some appropriate kind of introduction. Susanne I am all ears :-)

And give some room to grow. Meaning some kind of simple framework that
encourages people to post some  THING-related material. 

Thing next generation handover?...not
so easy to do....since there will be remaining activity, besides the
ISP probably the editions that Wolfgang continues.

blog or not to blog? Alan's statement gave some food for
thought. Although I am still unsure how to cintinue....curious about
other people's
thoughts on this.....





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.

see two possible strategies left at the moment:

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.

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.






  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
non-salable and non-exhibitable work, mostly web stuff, and feeling a
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
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
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
kind.  The advantage is that this
would allow each person’s ‘history’ to be acknowledged without
privileging one or the other.  One
link might be called ‘eToy war’ and could be an account of those events
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
write an essay; an event might be documented with only a series of
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
  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
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
  JustinBerryArt at gmail.com
  Waymaker at WaymakerGallery.com


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