The proliferation of recent notable work by emerging artists has demonstrated a consensus of artists, curators, and critics upholding the value of the appropriated, the amateur, the unmonumental, and the immaterial to the methodology of contemporary art. These styles of creating and presenting work, each to some degree casual and anti-authoritarian in content and form, may be seen as indicators of the decentralization of accepted authorities and values in our society. But despite this shift away from centralized authority, of which the Internet is arguably the most exemplary illustration, art theory and criticism generally continues as a formal, one-sided affair; paragraphs of polished concepts are revealed presentationally in gestures so studied that, were they connected to a paintbrush in the studio, they would be eschewed as “too slick, too commercial, too finished.”
If intelligent artwork can be produced by deskilling our practices, why not produce intelligent discourse by deskilling our forum?
Online settings offer the opportunity for audience members to offer responses after an initial statement, like so many questions to the podium from the crowd. But both the “comment thread” and “lecture Q&A” situations present an uneven and potentially socially inhibiting power dynamic between speaker and audience; the first is uneven in group attention over time, the second in authority and preparation of material. And though the Internet’s potential for disseminating information is undeniable, a truly accessible and egalitarian dialogue becomes logistically unfeasible as an open forum becomes massively collaborative.
chat.duncanmalashock.com is an ongoing collection of informal collaborative writing. The project consists of excerpts from recent online chats I’ve had with friends and contemporaries on a variety of topics related to contemporary art, attempting to reconcile the privacy of one-on-one conversation with the greater public forum of art discourse. It also represents an “unmonumental” collaboration in navigating conceptual territory for which there are no agreed authorities or canonical texts. Unencumbered by the formal constraints of presentational discourse, we emphasize the sharing of anecdotal and practical experience.
All chat excerpts are published with the participant’s permission, and with the understanding that, although an excerpt may be included for public consumption, the goal is to provide a space for the casual spontaneity of the private conversation.
Chat me whenever: