Everybody knows and loves the fake Ghostface Killah blog where the author annually lists the “Top Ten Softest Rappers in the Game.” While the rap game is certainly tough, it pales in comparison to the dark underbelly of the internet art community. When net artists leave the safety of the web, they get drunk, take copious amounts of drugs, get into fights, and fuck each others’ girlfriends and boyfriends like it’s a Bret Easton Ellis novel. So, to pay tribute to whoever writes that brilliant Ghostface blog, and to illuminate some of the politics of the net art world to the general public (who likes paintings and/or ceramics), I present to you:
The Jogging’s Tumblr is like some indoor kid’s delusional projection fantasy about what sports probably feel like. Besides that, it’s filled with images of zebras wearing pizzas, Crocs, houseplants, and mirrors. Even its name is like the softest exercise that somebody can do besides a 3K Fun Run/Walk. The people who run it have names that look like the guest list for a screening of The Graduate on Tommy Fucking Hilfiger’s yacht: Artie and Brad and Haley and Jesse and Joshua and Lauren and Norm and Rachel and Spencer.
Murphy’s also in this batshit crazy noise project called MSHR with Birch Cooper, and that shit isn’t soft at all, which is why she’s only at #9. Her weird three-dimensional digital collages and shit are totally psychedelic, but they still feel like a book of my aunt’s wallpaper samples fed through a seapunk filter that I’m checking out while trying to get laid in Second Life. I do like to look at her work because it makes me feel like I’m on drugs, but it’s like I’m on drugs that make me soft (weed, psychedelics) not drugs that make me hard (coke, Beezin’).
I don’t even think these two motherfuckers count as net artists because Birk paints and Delmar is a corporation, but it’s like I look at Facebook for about two seconds and suddenly I’m the third in their relationship. Do they live in Mexico City? Paris? Brussels? Nobody fucking knows because it’s just an unending slideshow of travel pics which are 100% the softest kind of pics that exist. The hardest pics are obviously selfies, doge, and that stoner alpaca.
If there’s anything softer than Anime, it’s art history. In Hayes’ work, these two ostensibly disparate worlds collide and it’s even less brutal than that Powerman 5000 song (I’m saying that they’re not a very tough heavy metal band). Don’t get me wrong, I like Jeanette Hayes personally. But if I were in a burning building on the tenth floor and had to leap out of the window, I’d pray to the heavens that there was a pile of her paintings to land on in the street below (I’m saying that her paintings are soft and I’d be safer if I landed on them).
Nick Briz is a Chicago-based new media artist, educator, and organizer. Briz teaches at the Marwen Foundation and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has shown his work internationally, and is the co-founder of the GLI.TC/H conference. While all of that is undeniably impressive, I must say I knew Briz was a genius when I first saw, “Apple Computers,” a powerful affront against Apple and a manifesto for the prosumer of our age. So, when Briz made “How To / Why Leave Facebook,” a piece about leaving Facebook, I knew I should pay attention.
I recently left Facebook as well, but I was uninterested in any self-congratulatory artwork or dramatic fuck-you to the social platform. I hadn’t enjoyed my time on Facebook for a while, but Facebook had been such a large part of my life for 9 years. I don’t buy most complaints about it “not being real life,” or some useless addiction. As the largest social network in the world, Facebook is very much a part of real life, I just hadn’t felt like I was benefitting from that part of my life.
My vague discontentedness with Facebook finally reached a boiling point in light of theiremotional contagion study. The highly controversial academic study was recently published, and it claims that Facebook had secretly manipulated the emotional state of nearly 700,000 of its users. I understood that Facebook’s main purpose is to make advertising dollars from it’s users, but this felt excessively creepy. And as VICE News has already reported, one of the study’s researches received funding from the Minerva initiative—helping the Pentagon study and quell social unrest—that made it all the more creepy. Yet I knew Briz would offer some insight beyond the most recent headlines.
The Guys Behind @horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book Explain What’s Going On
VICE: Did you fuck up at all during your marathon phone-answering session? Jacob Bakkila: It’s almost impossible. We wanted this to be as much of a conceptual performance as possible with very little intonation when we read it. And we tried to keep that consistent.
You weren’t reading tweets from your Horse_ebooks account, though. Jacob: This was almost identical. It was from the corpus—low-quality information products—that I tweeted when I performed the Horse_ebooks online installation. But this was all new. We had our engineer dump 400,000 items of spam, and I only used content that was garbled almost to the point of incoherence.
What was your day like as Horse_ebooks? Jacob: When I was performing online, that was never automated. If I was tweeting at 3AM, that was because I was up at 3AM. I set my alarm so I would wake up roughly every two and a half hours to tweet. It was very difficult. In terms of hours a day, it becomes incalculable. It becomes woven into your everyday life. You’re constantly thinking about it. You have to run into a place so you can get to a computer or cellphone coverage. You have to leave the club. If you’re caught underground in the subway you start to panic. Like, gotta keep performing as a robot.
So you didn’t have a tweeting schedule? Everything was just based on when you had time to duck away? Jacob: What’s interesting is that spambots on Twitter don’t want to appear automated. To be more convincing, they want to appear like humans. So it’s machines impersonating human biorhythmic schedules. What I did was impersonate a machine’s impersonation of a human. It would’ve been easier to do it every hour on the hour. But it had to be in a simulation of what a machine imagines our schedules are.
Jerome LOL is a young artist who found his niche in reappropriating GIFs and images from the early days of the internet—a time he calls web 1.0. His work hits a certain nostalgic nerve, and if you remember Rihanna’sSNL performance with the dolphins in the background, then you’re already familiar with what Jerome is all about.