Brad Troemel is not your standard contemporary artist. He divides his time between curatorial projects and seminars at New York University, as well as a series of web-based art projects, which are often collaborative or crowdsourced in nature. Of these, his most recent creation is Blind Mist, a website designed in collaboration with Jonathan Vingiano. The concept of Blind Mist could radically change the way creative works are distributed.
Troemel is a prolific writer and one could even say “community organizer” within the net art subgenre. As an artist himself, he provides a constructive and critical commentary on these developing art forms, as well as a forum for discussing them. One of his many Tumblrs compiles a stock of his writings and a roster of high brow reading material based on lectures and conversations held weekly with influential figures in the media art world. Troemel has written a multitude of essays centered on the erratic development of internet culture and a great number of his papers are also about digital and/or net arts, highlighting in particular the new take on ubiquity and rarity in contemporary arts.
Troemel also gained notoriety through ambitious projects like An Immaterial Study of our Peers, a virtual gallery project made for his 2010 BFA show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Chicago. For it, Troemel and his collaborator Lauren Christiansen took photos of the gallery’s exhibition space and then asked artists to submit work for display. He then used Photoshop to “cybernetically” integrate the works into the gallery space, creating an immaterial exhibition space that existed as faux “documentation photographs” online and as projections on the otherwise empty walls of the physical gallery. The project went beyond traditional curatorial conventions to offer an interesting empirical look at exhibiting immaterial works.
An image from an “Immaterial Survey Of Our Peers”
Our man is also quite the jester. He used a classic internet meme—a golden retriever on a rainbow background—and replaced it with a MacBook and the words: "The Internet Artist". This image was then reused by many members of creative communities to anonymously insult their peers. This project shows how much Troemel’s work and take on the art scene is meta-referential. He plays on internet memes and typical contemporary artist clichés to adress genuine issues.
His latest project similarly captured our attention for its incisive take on microblogging, aggregation and the new culture of creativity this fosters. Tumblr has become, as the name implies, some sort of giant tumble dryer aggregating the best and worst in creativity. On Blind Mist, Oxford shirts and white socks share the same space as works by established and amateur artists alike. Netizens come by and submit URLs to the website, which in turn indexes and aggregates the Tumblr content. The URL’s content is then randomly added to the continuous flow of images. Blind Mist is a “Tumblr of Tumblrs," a patchwork of good and bad, whose only obsession is to display, erase and aggregate at constant speed. Its participative nature ensures that content diversity is maintained. It’s an interesting initiative, as it offers an instant and ever-evolving snapshot of what goes on within Tumblr’s chaotic flow of data.
Below is a selection of recent images we found on Blind Mist: