This Monday’s IMG MGMT is by Jennifer Sullivan and takes us my along with the artist on a tour of her new neighborhood, half as a staycation travelogue and half as an homage to A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, Robert Smithson’s 1967 conceptual art odyssey to suburban New Jersey.
The older the club the more convoluted the semiotics of communication between surfers becomes. This communication entails posting organized content by a challenger, and a decoding of it by other participants, who respond with a posting where both syntagms and paradigms of the challenge post are identified and playfully manipulated.
The medium, practice and logic of surf clubs outlined in Ramocki’s essay matches 4Chan’s /b/ message board identically, though the circumstances are obviously different. While /b/ anonymously concerns itself with people and events popularized on the internet, the individuals who manage surf clubs have social and professional connections to the art world, making their primary point of reference art historical. Reference should not be the sole criteria for understanding surfing-as-art, however. Ramocki, like Bourriaud, premises his belief in surfing-as-art not on the type of allusions made in content, but on the production method of a post and its network environment. Both describe this environment as continuously active, altering or re-contextualizing information and making it public with hope for further use by peers.
With this condition in mind, it’s fair to call /b/ a massive surf club whose conceptual language is determined by those without connections to the art world or the need for validation from it. As artist and blogger Eryk Salvaggio puts it, “The net can’t handle the pretense of art, or anything that seems manufactured, because it has a keen bullshit mechanism.” Though /b/ doesn’t need us, contemporary art does need a dose of /b/’s refined understanding of actively anonymous group creation for us to advance the “bullshit” we cherish.
The content business on the other hand isn’t doing so hot. It’s my belief that we were never really paying for content to begin with, or at least we weren’t all paying for the same content. We were paying for the package. We were subsidizing coverage of the Iraq War (even though that’s the hardest to advertise against) by paying for the wedding coverage in the New York Times. We were paying to have the articles in our hands, not the full-color glossy cover, so when Rolling Stone finally managed to produce something relevant again, their belief that people would rush out to buy an entire a magazine for a single article fell flat.