Posted inArt

The Problem with Tumblr and Photography

A little over ten years ago, when I started blogging about photography, most photoblogs were presenting a single photographer’s work, one photograph at a time, usually per day. They were maintained by the photographers themselves. The scene was very small, and there was maybe a slightly naive earnestness about how it was done, which made following those blogs an appealing experience (even though, I should add, I had other things in mind).

Posted inArt

Tell Me About Your Mother’s Tumblr

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of commissioned essays for The World’s First Tumblr Art Symposium on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

I created my first internet artwork in 1993. At the time I was trying to have my work shown by various galleries but without success. The piece was titled “BKPC” (1993), or “Barbie and Ken Politically Correct.” It was a series of 12 photo-vignettes that told a story. This was before the World Wide Web and browsers. Most people accessed the internet via 1440 baud dial-up modems. I was a member of a computer BBS (bulletin board service), called thing bbs, which consisted mostly of text forums, although you could upload low-res GIFs that other members could download. I decided to present my artwork, one image a week with a short blurb, on the bbs.

Posted inArt

The Social Ties That Unbind

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of commissioned essays for The World’s First Tumblr Art Symposium on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

When I sent my first email in the 1990s, the internet was just beginning to hit the mainstream. The idea that we would use the internet to talk to friends we knew offline had yet to take off. Most of the nascent social web culture, from usenet to telnet to AOL chat rooms, consisted of socializing largely with strangers. These strangers might eventually become friends, of course, but they’d start out as strangers in the purest sense of that word. At the outset, you didn’t even know their name, age, location, perhaps not even their gender.

Posted inArt

Revisiting Tumblr as Art

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of commissioned essay for The World’s First Tumblr Art Symposium. This essay is a revised and expanded version of Ben Valentine’s “Tumblr as Art” that was first published on June 19, 2012.

Much has been written about the rise of internet art. Just in the last few years, we’ve seen net artworks such as “intotime.org” by Rafaël Rozendaal; Twitter art by the likes of An Xiao and others; “e.m-bed.de/d/,” an immersive online music video experience by Yung Jake; and “$,” a Google Docs piece by Man Bartlett. But there is a burgeoning field of both social and discrete, beautiful, and weird internet art that demands our attention: Tumblr art.

Posted inOpinion

Cloaque’s One-Year Anniversary Project Harnesses the “Collaborative Potential of the Internet”

For the one year anniversary of the Tumblr artwork “Cloaque,” founders Claudia Maté and Carlos Sáez decided to do something a little different; they pushed their Tumblr project and added a collaborative video. In case you missed it, “Cloaque” is one of my favorite Tumblrs. It is an endless collage made possible through collaboration by notable net artists from all over the world; I wrote about it last year.

Posted inArt

Kate Durbin Finds Virtual Moments of Adolescent Vulnerability in “Girls, Online”

Artist and writer Kate Durbin is both a scavenger and connoisseur of the Internet. She prowls the immaterial space, searching for images that express the emotional lives of adolescent girls. It was on Facebook that I first noticed a link to Durbin’s project “Girls, Online,” a collection of anonymous Tumblr posts from teenage girls that she assembled for Chris Higgs’s website Bright Stupid Confetti. Durbin captures the blogs and reblogs of sensitive adolescent teens and tweens, women-born-women, trans bois and gay boys. Her main focus, however, is on adolescent girls who are subject to the male gaze. The teenage girls she sees float about in that in-between space of clinging to girlhood and transforming into women.

Posted inOpinion

Is Tumblr Just an Art Project?

A new issue of Forbes magazine comes with a cover story on David Karp, the founder of the social media behemoth Tumblr. The profile, included as part of the magazine’s 30 Under 30 list of “prodigies” (Karp is 26) is titled, “Tumblr: David Karp’s $800 Million Art Project.” What do they mean by that, exactly?

Posted inArt

The Potential for Journalism in the Expanded Field

BERKELEY, California — As more of us can afford the tools historically only available to publishing houses, we have increasingly adopted them to share our stories and thoughts online. The invention of the printing press in the mid-1400s cheapened and quickened the arduous process of writing texts by hand. The cheaper the publishing, the cheaper the books, making information more accessible and creating an economic environment where more people could become publishers, creating an increasingly diverse, cheap, and accessible flow of information to an increasingly wider audience. Before the printing press books were rare and expensive, few possessed them and few could read them. The internet has expanded what the printing press started at an unprecedented degree.