Blog and Pony Show

It's a Web phenomenon, but is it art?

The daily entries have such headings as "Reasons Why This Past Week Might Just Have Sucked" (number 10 is "I haven't pooped in four days") and "Overly Italicized Conversation Between Two Engaged Persons at the Gas Station." And when you link to one, you get a sort of sidebar along the left edge of the screen that lists what Hamilton is thinking, listening to, reading, enjoying, and feeling guilty about on that particular day, along with tips on how to annoy and charm her.

A link to a "Features" section includes such quirky items as five sets of photo galleries identified as "Women Who Make Me Question My Sexual Persuasion" (Kirsten Dunst and Kate Winslet are the two best known) and another section called "Celebrity Sightings from Readers Like You." The blog's visual components feature several series of highly variable photos by Hamilton and various collaborators and a series of masthead designs.

The exhibition's third and final section, "blog," links to www.cursor.org. It's the Minneapolis-based Weblog of 47-year-old Mike Tronnes, who's by far the most political of the three bloggers represented in the show. Indeed, his site is almost exclusively political in nature, with literally hundreds of links to sites related to an extensive array of topics.

Details

Click on the site's New Media Lounge button; the exhibition can also be accessed at the New Media Lounge upstairs at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, 601 Lake Ave., Lake Worth, 561-582-0006.
Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art's Website, www.palmbeachica.org

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A recent "issue" of the blog -- its format is much like that of a magazine -- featured Tronnes's long list of "Media Patrol" links down the center. On the right side (appropriately, it turns out) is a section devoted to right-winger turned left-winger David Brock's book Blinded by the Right, including an excerpt and links to more than a dozen commentaries, among them Frank Rich's from the New York Times and Hendrik Hertzberg's from the New Yorker. There are also links to a handful of interviews with Brock.

The rest of the site includes links to Middle East Media outlets, political columnists and cartoonists, even a mordantly funny satirical Weblog called "Osama's Bin Bloggin." A highly critical essay focuses on 9/11 widow Lisa Beamer's efforts to copyright her late husband's "Let's roll!" comment, already much-copyrighted by many other entities (and invoked, as an oddly slangy national motto, by George W. Bush).

As a teenager, I often went to the encyclopedia to look up something specific, then ended up spending hours following a trail of old-fashioned print links: "See also..." or "For related topics, see...." Blogging, I found, is a similarly seductive activity. The Internet is a vast, ever-expanding universe that seems poised to pull one in, perhaps never to emerge again -- an idea both fun and frightening.

But PBICA's introduction to blogs -- and curator Servon makes a point of saying it's only "a point of departure" -- is also a bit baffling. Of the three blogs included in the show, only Luckett's seems connected in any significant way to art, thanks to his passion for photography. Hamilton's often-bizarre ramblings may have a literary value of some sort, and Tronnes certainly manages to stimulate thought, debate, and discussion with his overwhelming collection of political links.

Blogs are by their very nature highly personal, which explains the quirks that distinguish these three. I can't help thinking, however, that Servon could have come up with other bloggers whose Weblogs not only exemplify the concept of this strange new medium but are also of more aesthetic interest.

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