I have three new projects and a meta-project:

Dematerialization and Intellectual Property Law

The first project pursues an interest in intellectual property law and aesthetics in the context of dematerialization. I adapt this term from Lucy Lippard's and John Chandler's original meaning in order to describe the ongoing process, instigated by both art and new technology, whereby value is delaminated from the media that previously preserved and propagated it (for example, when VCR home recording enthusiasts recorded television programs and traded them with one another, they delaminated the value that had been preserved and propagated by the medium of television. The ensuing lawsuit against Sony was the television studios' attempt, ultimately unsuccessful, to recapture that value. Music studios have recently been more successful at controlling media in the digital realm). The goal of this research is to produce a longer history of aesthetic actions that have resisted or reorganized, as well as accommodated or abetted, the ways that the law governs creative production. I plan to assemble a number of cases, ranging from the 19th to the 21st century and across art world and mass market productions, each of which stages a confrontation between aesthetic mediation, commodity form, and the laws that govern both creative labor and the products of that labor. By exploring how aesthetic strategies confront, with a special kind of medium-specificity, the production of laws that govern creative production, this project builds on recent work such as anthropologist Gabriella Coleman’s ethnographies of new forms of legal activism among computer hackers and net.artists' attempts to rethink the legal apparatus of their art and art practices. I envision this as a book-length project that dovetails with much recent work on intellectual property law and the commons, and participates in current debates about how the law is being reshaped in response to networked modes of production, consumption, and collaboration (especially in Web cultures). Taken as a whole, the project will historicize the ways that both artistic production and new technologies have been an integral part of the ongoing transformation of the laws that govern creative production.

Bitmapped Form

The second project, still in the earliest stages, investigates the resonances, disturbances, and feedback between the development of the graphic user interface (GUI) and modernist and postmodernist experiments with organizing attention in a rectangular field. This project began as a collaboration with my student Eli Coplan in the summer of 2014. In addition an interest in Apple Computers, Vannevar Bush, and Douglas Engelbart, the project currently centers on three artistic practices: Morris Louis, Joan Jonas, and Charles Gaines. I've published a preliminary essay on this research in Open-Set.

Idiorrhythmy and Small Group Form

Inspired by Roland Barthes' late lectures, How to Live Together, and his thoughts on living alone together or idiorrhythmically, this nascent collaboration with John Paul Ricco explores the aesthetics and politics of the small group form. It extends out of John's rigorous, experimental writing on a form of togetherness that he calls "the intimacy of the outside," and out of my interest in group form in the context of networked life. We hope the collaboration will eventuate, in the near term, in a one or two-day colloquium at Reed College. Beyond that, who knows.


The journal Open-Set represents a kind of meta-project, a place to report on research in progress, write reviews, and publish shorter and more experimental essays that don't reside behind a paywall.