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Read Me

by Philip van Allen

First, a word about what we've been up to recently. In line with our desire to participate in the local arts community, ArtCommotion was a sponsor of the recent L.A. Freewaves show at The Geffen Contemporary Museum (formerly Temporary Contemporary) at the Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The exhibit showcased a variety of video and interactive works, including our very own Kim Abeles' Equidistant piece. In preparation for the show, we converted Equidistant to CD-ROM format, and it is now available for purchase.

This issue finds us dealing with some challenges raised by the contemporary arts, and some challenges unique to new media. But that's what makes it fun to work here. El Rivera calls herself a spoken word artist, and you can hear her perform her work--in the Literature section. Is it poetry, music, or something else? While she is presented in the Liturature section, we debated whether or not to present the texts of her pieces. Is the written work merely documentary, or does it stand on its own?

On the other hand, you can read much of Yoko Ono, One Woman Show--in the Visual Arts section. Yoko Ono has created conceptual art since the early '60s (and was a member of the seminal Fluxus movement), and she continues to challenge and tweak our sensibilities. Placing this event in the Visual Arts section certainly streaches that categorization. So how do you present conceptual art on the Web? Certainly the participatory character of the Web entices us with possibilities. But then, what's a show on the Web, who pays for it, and who sanctions it? This event is hosted by that paramour of Los Angeles art officialdom: MOCA. Or is it?

Rachel Lachowicz discusses her use of appropriation and unorthodox materials in our Michael Cohen interview. Adding to the confusion, we've collaborated with Ms. Lachowicz in a transformation of her "Form into Uniform into Formlessness" for the medium of the Web. What is the (re)context now, and how does it play into the original piece? And when you view the new piece, you download it onto your computer (and could "keep it"). What are the implications of that?

Perhaps Rachel Lachowicz puts her finger on a common thread when she says "I landed on lipstick and cosmetics because they allow for that flipping back and forth -- between wanting to be a proper feminist and wanting to objectify myself in the same gesture." The ambiguity created by these women is a useful and subversive tool in their art.

Well, tell us what you think of all this: go to the Graffiti section for a series of different discussion topics.

Now I have one other question. How does a struggling new web publication survive, given the high costs of new media? I think the community must respond. To continue the work we do, we need financial sponsorships from organizations and individuals who want to support the contemporary arts in Los Angeles. Please get in touch with us if your organization can help us, or if you have contacts that can. Honestly, we won't continue without some funding.

Philip van Allen

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