VART follows two major lineages colluding into one.

         The first lineage is the historical pop movement: pointing-as-art (championed by Duchamp), celebrity-as-art (championed by Andy Warhol), consumption-as-art (championed by Jeff Koons), and relations-as-art (championed by Nicolas Bourriaud).


            The second lineage is a socio-techno innovation: the internet. Dialogue around how the internet has changed the way artists view themselves and make art is ongoing, summarized by Rhizome as: Post internet, post media, post media aesthetics, radicant art, dispersion, formatting, meme art, circulationismall recent terms to describe networked art that does not use the internet as its sole platform, but instead as a crucial nexus around which to research, transmit, assemble, and present data, online and offline,and in which both art and artist are more fluid, elastic, and dispersed.’”

            The first lineage is important because we see how conceptual twists set up by Duchamp, Warhol, etc. recuperated anti-art as art. We see how art fell again and again from its pedestal and practiced resuscitative moves so that it may, in the fashion of the phoenix, rebirtheach time a little blurred. Relational Aesthetics, which VART borrows heavily from, depends on the virtual relationships of the Internet and globalization, whichhave inspired artists to adopt a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach and model their own possible universes.”  VART loves virtual relationships gathered in virtual universesin other words, microtopias.

            This leads us to the second lineage, the internet, which helps move image dissemination away from traditional rigid models and into arguably more democratic ones [3]; it is generous with space and cost-effective. The internet is also responsible for meme culture, in which ubiquity rather than scarcity is the reigning cultural value indicator. And perhaps most importantly, the internet is responsible for the technological society that prizes novelty, one predicated by the progressivist notion that reality must be constantly updated.


[3] Some argue that b/c the early internet was heavily influenced by US politics that it is essentially a state tool.




            It’s Jay-Z shouting out to Marina Abramovic’s kickstarter. It’s “Love me, love me, please retweet”. It’s Miranda July’s “We Think Alone”. It’s Yoko Ono’s “Imagine Peace”.

            VART (visibility-as-art) is showing up and giving your support as much as it's being seen and getting photographed. In VART, the artist is conspicuously consuming as the artist is being conspicuously consumed. [1] VART is a system, and visibility is its #1 currency.

            A very slippery concept, VART shifts in order to accommodate its contradictions. In an era of post-movements, where every manifesto and/or collective seems a priori doomed, VART is horizontal movement, capable of dialectically/sluttily embracing its contradictions. VART is style and can be adopted for any content. If historical art movements are bracketed retroactively, we can think of VART as an ever-expanding bracket that remains in the present.

            It’s easy to confuse visibility with fame. Though the two are related, the two also differ on a key issue. What’s one difference between celebrity artists & VARTISTS? Celebrity artists don’t change and have little flexibility; they are valorized by canonical history and the narrow market along with a chorus of critics who hate to disagree: dead artists with skyrocketing auction prices are examples par excellence. On the other hand, VART requires a “living” [2] artist who is mutable making mutable artwork and who uses contemporaneous visibility as valorization. We can think of the Mona Lisa as a made-up corpse (dead & outdated) whereas VART is a vampire (evolving with the times).


            In talking about VART I will be referencing “the view” as the look, the abstracted $1, the currency of 1 viewcount/like/reblog/retweet. I will be using the term smarm to describe a typical VART attitude. Artists who practice VART will be referred to as VARTISTS, though this term is flexible: a gradient exists from people who borrow some tactics to those who are entrenched. Names I refer to as “visible” will be names that generally have fans/followers on social media sites. Names I refer to as “non-visible” will be the majority of people who generally look much more than they produce, “lurkers”, and who may or may not be vying for visibility. So to use a recent example, a VARTIST would be Molly Soda and a “non-visible” would be Paul-David Young, who found old Molly Soda photos in the trash and “curated” them as anonymous artwork, hence heightening his own visibility as well as Molly Soda’s.


[1] My stakes in VART are pretty personal. A curator once told me that the only artists who are happy are the ones with online presences. Most of the working artists I know fall roughly into two categories—1) busy networking, producing, partying, practicing multiple disciplines; and 2) works unrelated part-time jobs and makes art privately in rented studio.

[2] An artist like Banksy can be comprised of several people. Even after the original crew dissipates or dies, it is possible for Banksy to continue as a machine. In this sense Banksy can be thought of as a corporation, in which case “living” is a debatable adj.