Death and Blogging

I can’t help but think about the relationship between writing, blogging, and death. Not to get all gnarly (my daughter’s new favorite word, which I think is so funny), but traditionally, it is often difficult for others to locate the work of artists and writers who die. In fact, it can take years and years of research, discovery, and sweat to figure out the location and locale of artworks, the dates they were produced, and the methods used in producing specific pieces. Not an easy task, but it does accomodate many academics’ employment opportunities, which is nice.
But, and here’s the but, blogging makes this all so easy. There is no difficulty in finding a bloggers’ work — it’s all sitting on a server somewhere, perhaps and hopefully in a pretty MySQL database. Death makes the writing or postings of a blogger final, yes — but also solid, organized, total. It’s this totality that kind of makes me think that blogging is the ultimate life-in-death. It’s so hyper-organized, so data-driven, so efficient that rather than laughing at death and its ultimate finality, it equates itself with it, cozies itself up to it, makes death seem nice and tidy. In other words, what I’m thinking is that blogging makes others’ lives easier but it also makes the death of an individual easier to read and understand as the cataloging is done, pre-facto.
It’s messy stuff, though. You might ask what about those people who don’t only use the weblog for aesthetic expression – say they use the computer, the typewriter, the canvas, or the video screen. And I would way that you’re right — blogging may be life-in-death but it’s also only one component of the soul’s divine shedding of self to the world. A researcher of an individual’s life would still need to collect the odd detritus of a life lived, the old corn flakes, the CD collection, the crumbs of crap that once accumulated under the paper files, in order to understand the life of a blogger.

Old Art, New Blogs

Trying to think about thinking about blogging every day, as part of this week’s calisthenics, has given me a headache.
Having said that, I’m heavily reminded of, per Jake’s comments two days ago, 90s artists like Barbara Bloom and Fred Wilson who attempted to break apart the exhibition space and the traditional means of observation from the art and artifacts that are part of an exhibition. In typical post-modernist parlance, the two artists, along with many others, recontextualized objects to show us the “true” or “truer” museumological associations of our aesthetic past.
Perhaps it’s a stretch, but this bone-dry exercise in thinking about blogging publicly pushes me as to what the audience expects from a blog (or my blog) and what kinds of worlds come to mind through the exposition of a post. I do feel that artists who make art about art are either fundamentally boring or fundamentally prescient, or both. But what I do see is that blogs have become a means of communication, a mode of transmitting information and knowledge, not unlike the museums and galleries of our recent past. Here are some similarities:
1. Blogs and artistic institutions hide their technology from their audiences. The software of blogs is invisible as are the hardware of paintings, the lighting and electricity from above, and the Sherwin-Williams paint beneath the painting.
2. Money flows around blogs and artwork constantly and neither artists nor bloggers actually make much money. Well, most of them do not — the 1% that do support the respective markets for the rest of us.
3. For the most part, posting your blog and making art are essentially solitary ventures, except for group efforts like Metafilter or Tim Rollins’ Kids of Survival. The museum or gallery allows a group of interested individuals to observe an individuals’s generally solitary musings.
4. Audiences gain prurient pleasure from following an artist, an actor, or a blogger. This public-oriented aspect of blogging is why I think blogging is in and of itself a new artform — one that tickles the feathers of those who live vicariously (many of us) through and with others in public.
One other note: in doing research for today’s piece, I found that the artists I’ve mentioned above do not have major presences on the Web. All of them rely upon their benefactors, the art institutions, to showcase their work and keep their names and productions alive — barely. It’s as if blogging has taken over the mindscape of art’s presence on the Web, there never being very good art portals online and artists never knowing whether to embrace or hate the Web.


Day 2 of blog revelations: I took a good, hard look at my webstats for Deckchairs on the Titanic and, after much hand-wringing and deliberation, decided to post the numbers of visitors I’ve been getting. They’re pretty small, about 1/2 the number I had once thought I had, but they’re growing steadily. I’m a big believer in transparency when called for and this exercise in thinking about audiences publicly is fascinatingly choice.
Here’s the short scoop on what kind of audience I’m receiving at this blog:
Average number of daily visitors: 99 (up 30 from October)
Average number of pages visited daily: 276
Top 5 referring websites: Google, Yahoo, Gothamist, Blogosphere, and
Top 3 search strings: titanic, google wack, deckchairs
Interest spiked on the following days in November: 9, 20, 24, and 25
Hourly usage increases between the hours of: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.