Artifact from an Anthropological Experience
2010
vellum, acrylic, watercolor, aluminum, inkjet on panel
16″ x 20″
(Click on above ☝ image once, and then click one more time for closer look)

UPDATED WITH NOTES MARCH 2011 here

Description of the experience for Artifact from an Anthropological Experience (a.k.a. You had to be there)…

In early September, I spent time reading through the streams on Twitter accounts I followed (over 300.) I had criteria for what information I wanted to include–for example, I didn’t want to include Twitter accounts from institutions or organizations. I noticed that some people only re-tweeted other people’s links or content. If a person’s account was particularly fatuous, I unfollowed them from my information stream, but I did this very infrequently (maybe 5 total) and I really had to justify it to myself. I read through people’s Twitter content, and I was surprised how a real sense of the person could be developed over these bursts of short communication. I observed how & what people communicated back & forth to each other, who talked to who, and what they said. I observed who people follow & don’t follow. I saw how they organized each other. I got a closer look at how my interactions worked (or didn’t work.) It was exhausting to get to know people this way, but it was valuable. The sense of voyeurism was acute for me, even though all this information is public. (I didn’t include tweets from anyone who has a protected/private account.) There is a sense that once a tweet is sent out, and then another 20 come afterwards, that the older tweets go unread. They are there, though, if anyone scrolls back far enough.

Mainly, I follow two communities on Twitter: art and pediatric cancer. In fact, it is because of advocacy work for my friend’s daughter that I bothered with Twitter in the first place. When I used Twitter to network & get an important message out, I experienced this amazing instant connection with advocates & cancer organizations all over the country. When the main advocacy work ended for me, I took a break from Twitter. (I was tired.) In August, I came back to it to find an art community. I had looked for the arts previously, but hadn’t been able to locate valuable conversations. When I found one artist frequently tweeting, I searched out from his list of those he followed (to add to my Twitter information stream) and I finally connected with an art community that was meaningful. So, by late August, I had two communities populating my information stream: pediatric cancer & the arts. It was disconcerting to see them right next to each other, with no connection, and I sensed it was a good stand-in for basically what we experience daily in the physical communities we are a part of. So, for the mixed media piece I envisioned, I made choices about what to highlight for myself out of the content I saw from my account on Twitter. I wanted to extract all this information & arrange it in a way that made sense to me, so I could handle it, because the visual experience on my computer screen was frankly overwhelming.

I especially looked for the personal & original in the stories people were telling 140 characters at time. I made myself choose 2-3 tweets from every “person” account (every!).  This process took a good week or two of reading deeply. It got tedious, but I continued. I told myself I was looking for a universal story to emerge, but actually I knew what I wanted that story to look like. And I did find it. Then the sorting began.

I culled the ones that were irrelevant to the story I wanted to tell. I didn’t trash them, I buried them on the panel under the others by gluing them down first so I could disappear them under the other tweets. I categorized the rest with my made-up systems so I could layer them appropriately. I can’t remember them all, but they made sense at the time. They seemed to be natural categories.

During the selection, sorting, and arrangement of these tweets, a simultaneous narrative developed. At first it was just a conversation with myself. Then I wrote it down. And it became a script. The Interview: In Which I Ask Myself All The Questions You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Care to Ask, Along Also With the Answers You Didn’t Care About. It will be read at #rank, an event organized by Jen Dalton & William Powhida with Winkleman Gallery at the SEVEN Art Fair at 2214 N.Miami Av (Wynwood District) Miami, FL: 11am on Thursday, Dec 2.

I will post the script after the event. UPDATE: Click here for the script

Description of the Script:

The Interview: In Which I Ask Myself All The Questions You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Care to Ask, Along Also With the Answers You Didn’t Care About, is a short performance in which art world roles (institutions, curators, influencers, art fairs, the marginalized, and the artist as first-person) are examined using one artist’s experience with twitter. What seems to be an imaginary conversation on the surface, ends up being something else entirely.

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