If we know someone who can walk us on a clear path through the less-explored wilds of the ‘net, it’s Paul Slocum. Slocum is a California-based artist, musician, curator, writer and programmer (and former owner of Dallas’ excellent And/Or Gallery) who’s was in the trenches of message boards and file sharing since the earliest days of the Commodore 64, and he’s just posted a fascinating op-ed on Rhizome that recounts the history and evolution of the culture of online art clubs (including a brief on the the kind of open-source programming that allowed it to bloom), followed by a run-down of the kind of surf clubs and art clubs he’s referring to.
He provides super-clean categories, lists, screenshots, links, and analysis. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the inception and current status of so much of the aesthetic that drives internet and pop culture today (and by extension, a lot of sophisticated and not-so-sophisticated art and archiving). Given the whirlwind evolution of the medium and its standards (this all started in the ’80s), he’s careful to point out that things are still rapidly evolving:
“Although you can do a lot with WordPress, it’s especially exciting to see projects like Are.na and dump.fm where teams are building custom software for their online communities. There are new possibilities that are becoming accessible like threaded image forums, 3D art clubs, and realtime collaborative illustration. The sites in this catalog are only a hint of the diverse online artist communities that we’ll see in the near future.”
See his editorial here. Thank you, Paul!