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So what is the ISM of the day?

I thought I would forward this along from an email discussion that Max Herman of Genius 2000 posted to Rhizome today about Networkism in advance of The Genius 2000 Conference 2007: Gerard Groote and Devotio Moderna.

I don't necessarily agree with him but do very much like the idea of the discussion.

If we were to have no choice but to define this current art historical era in a single term, what would it be?

Image from -

Part 20 of 20
The Genius 2000 First Edition
by Max Herman


Hi Max:
Nice to see you back on the list. I cannot believe that geocities is still around.

I don't think this Networkism thing is going to stick but go for it.
Isn't the whole ism thing is dead anyway. Maybe it should be Ismism if we are to continue the nonsense. (see ) But that was so last century... right? I do think you are onto something though but I believe it goes way beyond that. Humanity has entered into a new period in history perhaps better defined by the term Meta. The key question in the art sense anyway would be; Have we left modernism completely or is this just stage two? Did postmodernism never brake free? Conceptual pullet-proof glass ceiling scenario. Who needs bullets when we have consumer grade lasers.

The situation will always be different as long as time plays a part in the equation.

Intersecting Metaballs

I do like the fact that you are bold enough (as you have always been) to throw something out there but the concept of a network is nothing new. Its just getting a little bit more media hype these days. I mean the brain is a network and scientist know that, but the fun part is that they don't understand it completely YET..... Humanity/culture has just discovered a new and interesting way to think about it. The computer and the recent advent/inventions of new medias such as mobile phones, internet, collaboration toolkits and web 2.0 social network portals basically just speeds up the process for everyone from point a to point b. Connecting the dots has never been easier. I still can't wait until they figure out this whole real-time thing....

But since we are throwing ideas into the soup I have been a fan since the late 90's of the basic concepts behind the term Meta. I think it qualifies well by itself and does help define certain characteristics and traits of the contemporary early 21 century (post 911 era) The year 2000 still sits on the cusp, 911 and the terror war pushed/accelerated things over the edge and forced the change upon the world. The convergence is here and we have no choice but to deal with it. ***** See textbook definitions below *****

I can also get all hippy and say we have fully entered the Age of Aquarius, the new 2000 year cycle. Which relates well with Meta too. The key phrase for Aquarius is "I Know," but that knowledge is not a righteous, superior or exclusionary knowledge. It's a sort of wisdom that draws people together, for Aquarians are, above all else, social animals. They crave interaction with large groups of people, thriving in humanitarian and social causes and in any situation where collective thought, innovation and cooperation are required. They tend to be eccentric and disdainful of tradition and -- while they love magic and believe in the esoteric arts -- prefer to discover knowledge through scientific experimentation and exploration.

......It is kind of magic that we can communicate through cell phones and surf the web in the park. Something that we were only getting a small taste of 10 years ago. I don't think culture will have a clear understanding of what's really going on presently until around 2012 and 2025. It will be interesting to see if some pr firm and a media savvy artist/critic/historian will be able to secure the defining ism of the early 21st century. I guess we have to wait and see. I think the best way would be to pay reasonable sums of money to a small handful of art historians, academics, critics, and curators to promote the idea in their books and public lectures. I hear they are easier then the politicians to get on the payroll.......

In the words of the Dead Milkmen,
"Shoot up or Shut Up !! "Shoot up or Shut Up !! "Shoot up or Shut Up !!"

Best of luck on your conference. Would love to hear what you have to think about this Meta shit flying all over the place.



See below.
"Algorithmic Art & A.I." by Remko Scha
An introduction: Kant, Duchamp, Meta-Art


Meta-Art and Further Elucidation


meta |ˈmetə| noun short for meta key.
adjective (of a creative work) referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential. ORIGIN 1980s: from meta- in the sense [beyond].


meta- (also met- before a vowel or h) combining form

1 denoting a change of position or condition : metamorphosis | metathesis.
2 denoting position behind, after, or beyond: metacarpus.
3 denoting something of a higher or second-order kind : metalanguage | metonym.
4 Chemistry denoting substitution at two carbon atoms separated by one other in a benzene ring, e.g., in 1,3 positions : metadichlorobenzene. Compare with ortho- and para- 1 .
5 Chemistry denoting a compound formed by dehydration : metaphosphoric acid.

ORIGIN from Greek meta ‘with, across, or after.’


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Look up meta- in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
This article is about the word or prefix Meta. For other uses, see Meta (disambiguation).

Meta (from Greek: μετά = "after", "beyond", "with"), is a prefix used in English in order to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter. The Greek meta is equivalent to the Latin post.

In epistemology, the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). For example, metadata are data about data (who has produced it, when, what format the data are in and so on). Similarly, metamemory in psychology means an individual's knowledge about whether or not they would remember something if they concentrated on recalling it. Furthermore, metaemotion in psychology means an individual's emotion about his/her own basic emotion, or somebody else's basic emotion.[citation needed].

Any subject can be said to have a meta-theory, which is the theoretical consideration of its foundations and methods.

Another, slightly different interpretation of this term is "about" but not "on". For example, a grammar is considered as a metalanguage, a meta-answer is not a real answer but a reply, such as: "this is not a good question", "I suggest to ask your professor". Here, we have such concepts as meta-reasoning and meta-knowledge.

[edit] Etymology

The prefix is derived by back-formation from the Greek preposition and prefix meta- (μετά) which meant either "after", "beside" or "with". Meta- & Meso- are thought to have come into Greek together from a mutual cognate, which would further imply 'meta' to contain or be of the meaning "parallel". [1]

[edit] Quine and Hofstadter

The OED cites uses of the meta- prefix as "beyond, about" (such as meta-economics and meta-philosophy) going back to 1917. However, these formations are directly parallel to the original "metaphysics" and "metaphysical", that is, as a prefix to general nouns (fields of study) or adjectives. Going by the OED citations, it began to be used with specific nouns in connection with mathematical logic sometime before 1929. A notable early citation is Quine's 1937 use of the word "metatheorem", where meta- clearly has the modern meaning of "an X about X" (Note that earlier uses of "meta-economics" and even "metaphysics" do not have this doubled conceptual structure, they are about or beyond X but they do not constitute an X). Note also that this modern meaning allows for self-reference, since if something is about the category to which it belongs, it can be about itself; it is therefore no coincidence that we find Quine, a mathemetician interested in self-reference, using it.
An encyclopedia article which discusses an encyclopedia article (itself).
An encyclopedia article which discusses an encyclopedia article (itself).

Douglas Hofstadter, in his 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach (and in the less-popular sequel, Metamagical Themas), popularized this meaning of the term. This book, which deals extensively with self-reference and touches on Quine and his work, was influential in many computer-related subcultures, and is probably largely responsible for the popularity of the prefix, for its use as a solo term, and for the many recent coinages which use it. Hofstadter uses the meta as a stand-alone word, both as an adjective and as a directional preposition ("going meta", a term he coins for the old rhetorical trick of taking a debate or analysis to another level of abstraction, as in "This debate isn't going anywhere."). This book is also probably responsible for the direct association of "meta" with self-reference, as opposed to just abstraction. The sentence "This sentence contains thirty six letters." along with the sentence it is embedded in are examples of sentences that reference themselves in this way.

[edit] The Metacorder

The Metacorder is a theoretical device described in the short story of the same name by Tristan Parker. As the story describes, the Metacorder is a computational device which does nothing other than monitoring its own activities. While in practice this would result in an endless loop similar to the print "print" quine, the story takes this idea and gives it a sort of intelligence which allows the Metacorder to consider and judge its own actions.

This is an example of constrained writing, both in that the story describes a single object over the course of several pages, and that it is done entirely in the voice of such an object being described. This double rule allows much playfulness, however, and the story ranges from realistic technical descriptions to vague, poetic musings while still keeping the same voice throughout.


Dead Milkmen 1985
Big Lizard in My Backyard

My best friend is a junkie
He shoots up all day
Sometimes he even shits himself
What else can I say?

Shoot up or shut up [x4]

If his girl don't score
He beats her black and blue
He wears his track marks like tattoos

I love to hear his junkie talk
Whenever he talks on the sidewalk

My best friend is a junkie
It's sad but true
My best friend is a junkie
What does your best friend do?

My best friend is a junkie
He shoots up all day
Sometimes he even shits himself
What else can I say?

Shoot up or shut up [x4]

(see above)

Lee Wells

Brooklyn 11222
917 723 2524

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> From: Max Herman
> Reply-To: Max Herman
> Date: Sun, 09 Sep 2007 20:51:01 -0500
> To:
> Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: A New Art-Historical Period: Networkism
> Hello All!
> I have just gotten back from a vacation and wanted to get back on the list
> until the end of the conference. I am not sure where we left off regarding
> the less discussion-oriented state of the rhizome raw list since 2000-2004
> and other topics. These are of course good topics but they won't always be
> in the foreground. Oftentimes it's OK to switch to other topics.
> I believe that one explanation of many of the recent topics is that we are
> in a new art-historical period as of, say, 1998 because of computer
> networks. This period I would propose to be most properly called
> "Networkism."
> This would be analogous to "Modernism" which can be said to have started in
> 1898 or Romanticism which started in 1798 with the publication of the
> Preface to the Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth. The Preface is
> discussed in my project for this year's Genius 2000 Conference at my
> website.
> If the above is true, we are in a new art-historical period which is not
> widely acknowledged. Most people say we are still in Postmodernism i.e. the
> Postmodern period. So, people disagree on that.
> The disagreement on this can be because people sense that there isn't much
> to say about the prior period, and it's getting awkward--an awkward silence
> of sorts--but there's no defined new period and that also has people awkward
> and worried.
> In addition, there are all these new computer networks. Regardless of the
> new-period question and related tension, they are a problem for art. That
> new item in the blog about the center in Linz shows networks are an
> aesthetic issue. But if Stallabrass is the one I knew from before who wrote
> about "transgression," they might define the networks backward so to speak
> into the Postmodernism setup. This is certainly the escape-velocity pull
> affecting a new period regardless of what kind it is or when it has
> occurred.
> (Since typing the above I can confirm that he is not the "Peter Stallybrass"
> who wrote about transgression. That was very popular when I was in
> academics and I thought that it was overrated. Rather he is Julian
> Stallabrass, who states online that he likes Benjamin and Adorno which as
> you can see are often quoted in Genius 2000. However he may be more
> left-leaning than myself, I can't say for sure. Lastly he works at the
> Courtauld Institute, the collection of which includes the painting Le Lac
> D'Annecy, which I also cited in my essay for the conference this year.
> Therefore I am not necessarily against this new center in Linz.)
> Finally, a big new change has occurred in the military-industrial or
> military-technological environment which could be called World War IV or the
> Second Cold War. This can be said to be be oriented around the pursuit by
> the U.S. of a "one superpower option" as per the 2004 book by James Mann
> called "Rise of the Vulcans." Such a development certainly causes more
> danger and stress and makes even art-historical questions more tense,
> complicated, and risky.
> My personal take on all of this is that the O.S.O. is the best of many
> difficult options. Therefore it should be given the benefit of the doubt
> rather than rejected in a reckless way. The computers I think have
> superficial impacts on art history but also substantive impacts and the key
> goal is to have a good effect on the latter rather than blather about the
> former. Mr. Stallabrass and the new center in Linz may be a great move in
> this direction and toward High Networkism.
> And, due to all of this we are in fact in a new art-historical period most
> properly called Networkism or the Network Period.
> Branching off from this would be many worthwhile topics such as how to make
> good art or engage in good aesthetic behavior during the period, given its
> character or as Shakespeare said "the form and pressure of the time."
> I would also think that to understand this period you have to understand
> that not everything becomes a rhizome just because of the internet, you
> still have arborescent structures which in fact make the rhizomatic
> structures possible (to hearken back to a prior topic). I.e. it is not a
> homogeneous gruel.
> I accept however that this is by far the minority opinion and I'm not going
> to blame Rhizome Raw or the government or whoever for that obvious and you
> might say inevitable fact. Indeed you might say such considerations are
> very proper and amazingly right.
> Therefore I would propose to discuss the above or other issues that may be
> related.
> Best regards,
> Max Herman
> The Genius 2000 Network
> Rolling submissions OK through Sept. 15
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