Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Okay, eyeCONTACT readers, if you are in Auckland over Labour Weekend

I happen to be giving a talk on blogging at Auckland Art Gallery's Art Lounge on Sunday at 1.00pm. Actually I don't believe I am a 'blogger'. For me the term is too linked to the diaristic and petty gossip to be applied to this site. Come along and tell me I'm wrong, and why. All welcome.


Courtney Johnston said...

Hey John

For those not in Auckland - any chance you can publish notes?

You know, I half agree with you: using a blogging platform - like you're doing here, where it doesn't cost you a dime to make use of someone else's servers and development efforts - does not make one a blogger.

On the flip side, the assumption that a blogger - simply because they're using a particular communication channel - doesn't have something meaningful or important to say pisses me off.

So I guess my point, should I have attended your talk, would have been not to confuse the medium with the message.

And also - if I was being sly, I'd say that your "first name last name" requirement certainly underscores your claim that you're not a blogger. Publish my comment & prove me wrong?

John Hurrell said...

Hey Bo3, I have never removed any comment so far from this site, even if I am extremely irritated by the writer's use of a pseudonym.

I'd like to talk about art writing actually, and the web. Newspapers are pushing reviewers out from their staff, eg Dom Post and Mark A., and only accelerating their demise. Blogging really hasn't scratched the surface here yet, but Kiwis need to change too and become more vocal. They don't like to participate, do they?

artandmylife said...

Although I wouldn't consider EyeContact a traditional blog in that its more of a review site, one aspect that is great is the interaction enabled (even by those of us with irrritating pseudonyms).

And any serious art writing that is just not recycled press releases has to be good whether you like the opinions or not.

Unknown said...

In a way I know the position that bestof3 and artandmylife speak from better than many "real" identities that place comments on your blog John. If an identity (whether this is inscribed on their birth certificate or not) has a visible presence on-line and this presence is recognised within a community, surely this is an existence that warrants a legitimate voice?

John Hurrell said...

Hi Marnie. I think I'd argue it is their existence off-line that counts - as a test of commitment to whatever positions they might have. Pseudonyms bring out the poison in some writers. If I happen to be thought poisonous too, at least I am happy to be identified. People know my face (despite the above image), I go to openings and parties, and I'm open to chat to anybody about anything they might bring up. I'd like all eyeCONTACT contributors to be accessible like that.

After all Artbash is there for those that want to hide their non-blog identities. No one is stopping them.

artandmylife said...

Well thanks Marnie - hadn't thought of it like that before. And now I am worrying if my pseudonym brings out the poison in me!
Pauline D(also known as artandmylife)

John Hurrell said...

Anybody who looks closely at Artbash will discover exactly what I mean, artandmylife. There is nothing wrong with sharp tongues. (We need more of those.) I'm trying to depower irresponsible sharp tongues.

artandmylife said...

I think I see what you mean - in relation to Artbash anyway. However I remain curious about your statement "it is their existence off-line that counts - as a test of commitment to whatever positions they might have"

Maybe you could expand?

John Hurrell said...

Well it is one thing to create an online persona from which to present an argument, but that is just a game, a hat which you can take on and off at will. Away from your computer, meeting people at galleries or on the street with face to face interaction, conversation is different. People look for contextual consistency behind your values and behaviour - other conversations, other writings, other artworks. While, for sure, these too can be a game as well, they are a lot harder to maintain. The interactions are more intimate when we see and hear each other directly. Our 'bullshit detectors' more finely tuned in a way that is not possible reading a computer screen.

artandmylife said...

Ok - I see how that could be true but I don't think its fair to generalise. Lots of bloggers (including myself) are pretty much the same in real life.

John Hurrell said...

Ok - I see how that could be true but I don't think its fair to generalise.

Your use of a pseudonym implies the opposite of what you say.

artandmylife said...

The key word there is "implies". That is what YOU take from it.

However - my continuting to use my blog name to comment here is probably irritating you further.

Thx for the "air time" anyway

Pauline Dawson (the blogger commonly known as Artandmylife)

John Hurrell said...

No,I'm enjoying this exchange. I'm not irritated at all, only pointing out that there is a logical contradiction in your claim that a lot of pseudonymed bloggers are same online or off.

As it takes some effort to create a persona, why would you bother?

artandmylife said...

I don't think its a "logical contradiction" at all and in my case I didn't create a persona, I just used the name of my blog to post. It was pretty much sheer laziness.

Usually when people correspond with me via the 'contact me' form on my blog, I end up using my real name and email so there is no 'persona' - I am happy for people to know if they consider it important.

My friends that read the blog would assure you that I am much the same off and online and if I was in Auckland I might have met up with you by now.

I can only speak for myself though. I do wonder if some people blog under pseudonyms because of their employment status.

Also one (non art) blog I like is The writer doesn't hide who is and like me uses his real name in correspondence. He said he just likes the name Poneke and has no trouble being associated with that name because of his love for Wellington.

I think there are many reasons for pseudonyms - the points you make are just a few of the possibilities.

Paul Brobbel said...

The comment about employment status is spot on. The industry here is too small and incestuous to allow for opinions unfettered by pseudonyms.

It's not hard to find a strong opinion in closed circles but you wont get anyone to scratch it marble less they offend someone they might need in the future.

The rule seems to be if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all. Unless you have pseudonym.

John Hurrell said...

The employment issue is true, if (art institution) employers want to hire dormice, and often alas they do.

Of course opinions can be expressed subtly or with humour. They don't have to be abrasive. But forthright people do stick out, like Tao Wells or Andrew Drummond for example. They liven up the community, especially if they are articulate and not merely attention seeking.

Here in New Zealand though there tends to be an 'island mentality' where collective community values are fiercely upheld and non-conformity feared. Those who 'rock the boat' cause considerable alarm. For example during the First World War, conscientious objectors here were treated with far great severity than in England. The reaction was more extreme because our society is far closer and smaller.

Fresh Local said...

It seems to me that pseudonymous titles and anonymous personas are being seen as one and the same thing.

The unregulated nature of cyberspace allows people a freedom that some abuse. Anonymity becomes a disguise that the socially maladroit can hide behind and let monsters from the Id run wild and free.

Every internet chatroom has a troll and every blog attracts cyberbullies who can go unchallenged, remain identified and never be held accountable. They must remain anonymous.

Pseudonyms in contrast can signify that in a particular context I am concentrating on a set of interests or using a skill base that I don't use in other aspects of my life. In the various roles that my life consists of unique aspects of the complete person I am have different emphases.

The Tony Carr that is a parent in Sydney has some correlation with the one that is a researcher, or the one that worked in psychosocial rehabilitation, or the one that worked briefly for the National Art Gallery in the late 198Os.

In this context, this conversation, who I am elsewhere has little relevance. I'm not hiding anything it's just not important.

And of course everyone I know will have a version of me based on their experiences of me one, 12, 20 or 48 years ago.

As a fringe dweller on the Wellington art industry twenty something years ago I will have left traces that may resonate today. I used to buy art from Hamish McKay, Chris Moore, 33andathird,Greg Flint - not a lot but enough to leave footprints. And of course there was the exhibition opening circuit in less image and budget conscious times.

There are generous tolerant people in the thinking about/writing about art industry and others less so. In the 80s the cold dead hand of Post-Modern theory fell on the art world and "Brain Art" held sway. Not only did the artist die but drawing, painting, creating and feeling had their heads on the chopping block.

Curators strutted through town like All Black wingers or gossip mag celebrities. Their polysyllabic obfuscatory gobbleydegook was pawed over by bright young things.

Post-Modernism was referred to, without a hint of irony, as the most significant development in art since the Renaissance. For a few years anyway. There were a few fringe dwellers up trees shouting "The Emperor's got no clothes on" but they were quickly pulled down by angry black-clad mobs who Foucaulted them right up, Lacanned them, then Derrida'ed them.

We lived in interesting times.

I've attached a scan of my DNA profile and a small sample of blood for ID purposes/

artandmylife said...

This is another take on this topic from Object D'Art back in June