Rhizome — New York’s notable not-for-profit organization and new media art platform affiliated with the New Museum — just unrolled its newest list of Commissions and Tumblr Internet Art Grant Awardees. After reviewing over 250 proposals, five new media commissions and three Tumblr-spirited projects have been awarded funds.
＼(^-^)／ for everyone, but most of all Yung Jake and his interactive rap video project Kickstarder. This one is definitely a stand-out. It’s “a short story that shows an artist go from the bottom 2 da top,” taking the crowd-funding construct of Kickstarter to new levels — live upgrades.
“We see Yung Jake go from endearingly low fi to some ridiculous baller shit,” the artist explains in his proposal. It starts as a low-budget rap video, until he gets a donation and you see that his webcam is upgraded to an HD camera, etc.
Supporters will be automatically inserted into the video:
★ upload an image to be on my shirt
★ upload an image to be on my hat
★ upload your face to be digitally projected onto a digital extra
★ a scene of it shot at a show at your house
As I begin to ball out harder, there will be a clickable space on my chest that display options to buy me a chain.
“I want this to be the piece that brings everything together — art guys, rap guys, farmers, kids, moms, etc. I’d also really like to see corporations want a piece of it. I want to see logos,” Yung Jake tells ANIMAL. “You can’t have too many logos.” Gone is the age of blurred brands in rap videos. “I saw a Fareast Movement video yesterday where they had a Cîroc bottle turnt in so you couldn’t see the label. That was lame to me, because Cîroc bottles are in videos to pay for them,” Yung Jake muses. Maybe, Kickstarder is product placement as a statement on product placement?
“What if someone sends you a gigantic RedBull pendant on a chain, opulent and everything? Is it going in?” I ask.
“Sounds like you get the piece.”
Since emerging online in 2011, the artist has managed to subvert the loudest digital and net-based phenomena, turning clichés into concepts and trends into satire — all via rap videos, from his meta-critique of Datamosh, to the Sundance Film Festival-beloved post-YouTube blog-#fame multi-browser-window experience http://e.m-bed.de/d/, as well as an augmented reality app. His first digital art sale was a Vine with an emoji as a title. It helps that his lyrics are smart. “It’s cool ’cause it’s nerdy.” And it’s good writing.
It makes sense that his next media/medium is Kickstarter. With celebrities like Spike Lee and Amanda Palmer raising eyebrows with their Kickstarter pitches, Yung Jake’s “started from the bottom now we’re here” narrative give the internet a true crowd-sourcing hero we’ve been missing so much. And logos. Lots of logos.
“Political art is usually bad because we get it and it’s over,” Yung Jake says after enduring my long rant about my love-hate for most political art. “It rarely works with the existing structure to be critical — it’s just critical.” Kickstarder is crowd-sourced effort on crowd-sourcing, a sponsored project on sponsorship. It’s not ironic — it’s on point.
Good call, Rhizome. Way to internet!
Among the other selections are Aaron Meyers and Lauren McCarthy God’s Eyes (first seen at #GodsMode art hack day at Brooklyn’s 319 Scholes) as well as a populist selection of Dina Kelberman’s trending I’m Google project. There are two Rhizome awardees involved with The Jogging, a Tumblr co-founded by artist, teacher and shrink-wrapper Brad Troemel. It functions like an open-call, crowd-sourced, rolling online art show (sometimes exhibiting in physical space). Aside from a very specific aesthetic created via The Jogging team’s ambitiously fascistic curatorial selectivity, it’s brought us some involved and critical works, like those RIDICULOUS “Supreme” hats. Now, with The Jogging’s Haley Mellin’s algorithmically-coded bot for automating digital image production and Masood Kamandy’s “Tumblr-specific artwork and community building tool” Content Visualization System blessed by Rhizome, there is going to be a lot more melding. That’s exciting. Let the computer-moderated righteous clusterfuckery commence!
Another Rhizome selection worth mentioning is David Wightman and Jacob Ciocci’s The Realm Recognize Realm Tour, a week-long, touring series of pop-up shows at nonconventional spaces — “not clubs” but “parking lots” and “suburban high school kids’ basements,” coming this August. Those recruited for the party-making are “active internet identities” or so-called “Super Users” who “use the Web synonymously with their daily life.”
Basically, they’re #netpeople, Tumblr celebrities and your internet friends, including Molly Soda, Top8 and Lil Internet. Having been to a few Top8 dance parties, I’d say this translates enjoyably well offline but it’s still interesting that Rhizome went for this proposal, with its unironic emphasis on “personal image/brand.” Gone is the age of irony. Welcome to legitimacy?
Now, a last word about “Rhizome legitimacy.” From Parker Ito to Jon Rafman to Petra Cortright, early Rhizome recognition has always added a gravitas of props to an artist’s overall profile and, most times, Rhizome was really up on their shit — they profiled new Queens Museum studio program recipient Bunny Rogers more than a year ago, long before her recent knock-out and dark physical shows. So what does it mean when one of the most popular blogs on Tumblr and a crew of internet-famous club kids — who are not necessarily aspiring to a specific “net artist” status — are given kudos by high-profile (and niche) academics and the tangent blessings of a substantial cultural institutional?
Clearly, internet culture has already invaded the art world. Now the art world wants into internet culture. Go on. Tap that. And bring me the ridiculous baller shit, plz tnx.