Pop Culture
Sep 04, 2008, 08:25AM

Do You Feel the INFOspirit?

We are a generation of digital natives coming of age in the world and artist Kevin Bewersdorf wants to give us our religion. He sees web surfing as a spiritual act, one where the flood of information makes us maximally aware of our roles in its production and consumption. Recognize that you are a brand and rejoice.

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There is something I have noticed about a lot of artists these days, especially net artists: they want to do everything. At one time artists were content with specialization, like in making only stained glass windows or etchings all day long. Now it is more common for artists to want to tackle all the forms of expression that the net can carry -- the still image, the moving image, music, writing, design, and so on. Many net artists may not be willing to admit it, but what they are really trying to do is to build an empire, to be a brand that offers it all. There is an absurdity to that. Having your own website is like building an unnecessary shrine to yourself. We can try to deny this by convincing ourselves that what we are doing is somehow a selfless gift, but the web has not asked us for these gifts. The web would go on without us. As net artists, we are pushing ourselves unsolicited on an already saturated marketplace. So I use my signature and various logos to point out the absurdity of this vanity, the struggle to give of yourself without becoming consumed with yourself.


I think we are headed for a digital middle ages when struggle will become more relevant. The surge of awareness that the web has caused in us is sweeping across the marketplace like a leveling tsunami, and we're starting to drown in this sensation of information surplus. Not much seems to be rising to the surface and an endless number of self corporations are toiling away in obscurity. The general confusion and helplessness that many are experiencing over what is to be done with this massive flood of information are indications that the digital middle ages have already begun, and that these times will be about great suffering and struggle for all artists and consumers. I'm not sure how long this plague will last, but luckily after a flood there is usually a blossoming.


Artworks in "gallery space" are products that we pretend are not products within a business that we pretend is not a business. It's hard for many net and new media artists to deal with this, to cram their ethereal web concepts into furniture products for the wealthy so that their own artistic progress can be financed. It's also hard for art consumers to become invested in immaterial art because that would require a deeper acceptance of physical objects as trivial and ineffectual products, and most art consumers are very wrapped up in the material world of restaurants and nice coats and taxis waiting outside the gallery.


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