Sunday, August 3, 2014

Netiquette and Thought Crimes

I spent the last week on a cross-country road trip. While trapped in the rented minivan, our family indulged in listening to several episodes of the podcast "Welcome to Night Vale", written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and narrated by Cecil Baldwin. In case you've been living under a rock for the last two years, the podcast is somewhere between horror fiction, classic comedy radio play, and the hypnotic aesthetic of public radio news. The central theme of the series is a fictional desert community called Night Vale and the news regarding its various residents and visitors, human and otherwise. In the podcast, there is frequent mention of secret police and the ambiguous penalties for "thought crimes". The notion of thought crimes within the podcast is proposed in a humorous manner - though as with all things humorous in the podcast, they parody contemporary societal issues. Challenges to the ideological problems with digital surveillance are craftily hidden just beneath the surface of the comedy.

Logo by Rob Wilson

 So why am I thinking about Night Vale in relationship to this blog, you may wonder? Well, for those few human readers out there following the autonomous exquisite corpse art happening in the comment section of Marcel Duchamp and Invented Pseudo Algebra, you may be asking the same questions I have been lately. Is there something unethical about approving spam in service to the work of art? Are there consequences for allowing this artwork to continue? What kind of monitoring does this artwork undergo and what purpose does such monitoring serve? Who watches the watchmen?

All joking aside, I have recently begun to think about the lifespan of the autonomous exquisite corpse work hosted on this site. I wonder if I should consider a specific end point for the work? I am also curious about the life span of the work beyond this mortal coil. I have to review and approve all comments for that section now. I originally set up this blog to auto-approve comments, but then the Blogger platform changed and deleted many comments that were auto-approved as they had been identified as spam. Essentially, the continued process of approval of the comments is the primary reason I still maintain this blog.

What will become of this artwork in the future? What will this exquisite corpse say about our society some day? Even though his work was not directly related to the present dilemma, I can't help but think about the work of the artist On Kawara. The simple act of marking time has provided so many opportunities to reflect on history, both personal and global, for such a great number of those who have encountered his work in person and via the internet. Of course, I wonder if On Kawara would see a relationship between his work and the exquisite corpse on this blog. As often as we admit that no person creates in isolation, artists have the funny habit of believing that they have original ideas. Along those lines, I can't help but wonder that in the absence of linear time and the impediment of mortality, what Marcel Duchamp might make of this project as well.

Let me know what you think. Do you see similarities between the exquisite corpse and the "Today Series" by On Kawara? Also, what do you think Duchamp would say about this blog, if anything?

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