Additional Publication Information
Since 2003, I have used a blog to collect and publish my ideas about art and social engagement, or to write short accounts of artworks I have witnessed and participated in (Ihlein 2003). What motivates me to blog in this way is the desire to leave behind an experiential document of ephemeral art practices. Conceptual art, performance art, Happenings, Fluxus events and Expanded Cinema: all these constitute important moments in avant-garde art history which I 'know' only by accessing fragmentary, in complete archival documents - photographs, videotapes, artists' statements. For artists working today, these archives make a significant contribution to our own aesthetic heritage, but - especially when one considers the emphasis supposedly placed by the original works themselves on the actual experience of 'being there' - the historical value of such scraps is rather disproportionate. Blogging is one way to make a desposit in the archive today - a deposit which might, I propose, be useful for future historians of emphemeral art.
In this chapter, I introduce briefly the development of my own method of blogging as a component of socially-engaged art practice. I argue that the particular technique of online exchange and experiential documentation which emerge throught the projects I will discuss here begins to model a new form of process-based aesthetics, by creating 'a record of its own making'. For contemporary artists working in the field which has recently become known as 'relational aesthetics' (or 'dialogical' art, or 'new genre public art'), blogging offers a method for experientially documenting those particular social encounters which constitute the core of these works of art - documenting, that is, the very materiality of our own practices. This experiential documentation is able to generate a rich body of evidence, revelaing new insights into difficult-to-research areas of everday life and popular culture. Furthermore, as this chapter will explore, the intimate, embodied nature of the particular method of blogging I have developed means that it not only functions as a means of documenting experience, but also, importantly, transforms the experiences themselves - leading to a deepening of the relationship between researcher and subject matter.