The River

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The e-bay Show

From the curratorial notes of the e-bay show -- which uses artwork purchased on the internet to reveal the internet itself as a work of art -- at the Goatsilk Gallery in Missoula, Montana (a university borough, aging hippie enclave and all around cool mountain town, and where I lived from '91-'94):

We are unable to deny our unconscious involvement in the creation and development of our world. It is this involvement, as Henry Miller suggests, that is the art of the living. Living involves an act of creation. We do not live when we merely channel our "self" into creating material objects, we must, says Miller, become a piece of art that reflects the world:

The work of art is nothing. It is only the tangible, visible evidence of a way of life, which, if it is not crazy is certainly different from the accepted way of life. The difference lies in the act, in the assertion of a will. For the artist to attach himself to his work, or identify himself with it, is suicidal. An artist should be not only able to spit upon his predecessor's art, or on all works of art, but on his own too. He should be able to be an artist all the time, and finally not be an artist at all, but a piece of art.

The function and structure of this new type of on-line community involves artists who--in the context of this show--can be viewed as a kind of artwork in and of themselves. Engagement in the cyberworld is what creates and sustains them; what makes them live. The meanings inherent in the act which is the e-bay exchange are more pertinent than any of the actual art works procured. On e-bay, artists can enjoy a heightened sense of anonymity while at the same time depositing their individual work into the world. Their persona is abstracted, and it's easier for us to see how their participation in this realm is an active art. E-bay doesn't require that artists give all the right "wooing"answers. On e-bay, everyone begins on and maintains an equal social standing. Everyone has the same space in which to operate. E-bay is democratic, for no one has more powerful connections than another. Thus the selling of art on ebay can be seen as liberating since anyone who decides to make anything can find an audience and potential patrons. All middle-men are removed, and only those who are playing the same game, enjoying this connectivity and thereby understanding each other, are reaching each other directly. Despite the lack of meeting in the flesh, e-bay offers a very direct means of communication and, potentially, of transaction. In our experience, honesty was the norm, and we felt that the collective awe at the relative newness of the e-bay community fostered a strong sense of honesty which in turn strengthened reputations ("A real asset to e-bay, A+++ e-bayer!"), sales, and growth.

As E-bay fosters a freer environment by subverting the importance of the "individual" artist, we reflect this by selling the whole show as one work--as a symbol of one kind of healthy action, of a shared creative and connective idea.


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