Artblog.net Turns 15
Post #1814 • May 5, 2018, 7:32 AM • 2 Comments
Artblog.net posted for the first time on May 5, 2003. No link, it's awful back there.
That this thing is still going is a marvel. To give you an idea, in 2003, a few months into its run, this blog survived the collapse of an early version of its content management system, Dean Allen's Textpattern. In 2014 it survived the collapse of its hosting service, Dean Allen's TextDrive. And as of January of this year it has survived Dean Allen.
As far as I know, there are only three art blogs older than Artblog.net that are still running: greg.org, Artblog by Roberta Fallon and crew down in Philly (with credit due to co-founder Libby Rosof), and Tom Moody's.
I owe it a great deal. Back when commenting was enabled via an HTML form, it was the site of some of the highest-level discussion about art I've ever seen, much less participated in. (It was sometimes dispersed among the detritus, but garbage on an open platform is a given. That's partly why I closed it.) Having studied under Walter Darby Bannard as a graduate student, the conversations at Artblog.net constituted an informal postgraduate program, or really, an intellectual apprenticeship that filled out the experiential one as a painter. His colleagues, particularly John Link, were able to chime in to great effect. So were various characters who brightened up the joint, some of whom became friends, and a fraction of whom remain so.
It was painful to write and then rewrite the CMS, but thanks to that effort, this record is safe from the collapse of yet another platform, or at least less prone to mayhem. The move of Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes from Blogger to ArtsJournal to BlouinModern BlouinPainters to oblivion is an object lesson about the value of understanding certain digital matters. Too, it enabled me to build Delicious Line.
Above all, having this blog meant that getting sidelined didn't amount to getting silenced. It has been obvious for a long time that an artist with an explicitly aesthetic orientation, a critic with a modernist outlook, and a man with heterodox politics (I identify as a crypto-anarchist these days) is going to have to make an art world of his own. But as Darby demonstrated by example, greeting throngs at his 2015 opening at Berry Campbell and smiling like the cat that got the canary, all you have to do is stick to your guns, keep working, and outlive the bastards. Having a site at this URL is like being one of those people who buy a house and hang onto it for decades, frustrating the gentrifiers and mall-builders around them as the neighborhood grows more boring. Those folks always have the last laugh.
We who remember the Golden Age of Blogging from the mid-2000s look around at the social media landscape with earned disdain. Go look at what you were thinking about in 2011 on Facebook, I dare you. In February I started a six-month cold-turkey social media hiatus, taken because my mental health could no longer absorb the constant shocks of idiocy. #deletefacebook started trending a month later over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and I felt pretty cutting-edge even though the timing was all luck. In the interim I've come to feel that while blogging like it's 2006 is not coming back, there is still a role for blogs to play that can't be filled by the current social media model in which you join for free and then let a corporation harvest your brain.
So, what next? Stick to my guns, keep working, outlive the bastards.