OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!
- Founder's response to "Crisis in Webism
By Pygoya, so-called founder of "Webism"
During recent months the harmonious online art group that call themselves "The Webists" has splintered into those who accepted the original manifesto and founders' guided leadership and those who clamor for democracy with all its forums, opposing parties, voting process, platform for dissent, jury for proposed events, need for funding, i.e., formal complex organization. At the height of bulk email communication professing a "crisis in Webism," it would have been insightful to organize a Web show entitled "Off With Their Heads!" (Ingrid Kamerbeek's and mine!)
The decision to remain as we have always been, never professing we were more than a mission driven spirited "family" of online artists, has led to the departure of disgruntling individuals. More will depart to form their own group of "webists," directing their own path as an identifiable group, to "contribute visual arts cyber-culture to the Internet." For the two founders of the original "Webists" this is actually seen as beneficial. Any assistance to build world online culture, whether by other groups, or even the solitary artist who abhors group identity, is progress towards our global mission.
The larger the creative masses that make art for the Internet, the more legitimate our mutual claim of the dawn of a new art "-ism" for this new century. Good luck departing x-Webists! There is room for everybody; nobody owns the word "Webism"- we can all contribute to it as an unrelenting tidal wave of art that refuses to be damned..
For those looking for show opportunity online as well as in brick-and-mortar galleries, the door is open for new membership and it's FREE. In our scheme of things, you can be a member and do nothing but enter art in selected shows to your liking. :=)
I would like to review the history of how this particular appendage of "Webism" came about, as defense for the decision for no change in the organizational structure of group.
I launched "Truly Virtual Web Art Museum" in 1997 (original now archived homepage) with the dream of creating a global virtual museum that showcased digital art from around the world. Those were exciting days, surfing online in search of the best digital art I could find, then emailing artists that as curator of this online museum I was inviting them to exhibit. I stated there is no charge; I am patron of the digital art medium. I delighted in bringing good tidings in the form of recognition to artists like myself. As a digital artist in Honolulu I know first hand the hardships endured at the hands of traditional art institutions through skepticism of validity and fear of our new art medium. I am proud of the now gigabytes of perpetual online exhibitions attended by over a million visitors. I continue with my quest to make it the largest permanent collection of digital art in any virtual museum, specializing in works of art derived from technological tools available at the turn of the century.
The web site includes one of the first usage of the word "webism," if it is not the first. It was coined by me in July, 1996, as part of the written content for the anticipated Web site not yet launched. The concept of an idealistic sharing of digital art online to build a collection of new art within the emerging Internet domain was documented. This listing of hope for a new art world that counterbalances the established art establishment became the foundation for a concise manifesto written by me in 1997. This became necessary when among the artists that had displayed in the museum, one suggested to form a working group of artists to develop projects online and spread the gospel of Webism through art exhibitions in the "real world." At show opening speeches in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, India, Japan, Australia, Hawaii and New York City we became preachers of the "new art" found only online. "Go online and see for yourself" we beckoned. Gallery audiences were told to see the "originals" in virtual space, from where the framed reproduced prints they inspected at the show were derived.
I could never manage a growing group from around the world without the assistance, leadership, sacrifice of personal time and finance that is provided by Ingrid Kamerbeek of Bavaria. Go to her Website and see the archived documentation of all that we have accomplished in the name of Webism, AROUND THE WORLD, through group volunteer efforts and without any funding. And God willing, our crusade for Webism will continue to flourish.
What has made joining
the Webists satisfying as well as beneficial for its members is that the
organization is self regulating and perpetual. This is achieved because:
1. The leadership provides dedicated free communication networking, organization of projects, building of perpetual online exhibitions with the museum and satellite member sites; in other words, it's a "free lunch, "we do all the work, give credit to the artists, and never ever ask for money.
2. I remain visionary, with or without any group's support, and keep building virtual museum presence and significance, out of the sheer determination to bring justice to digital art for all that choose it as their medium of expression. Of course I also promote my own work; why not, if it fuels my passion and desire to bring all great digital art into the light of formal public recognition where it belongs.
3. After working with artists from around the world for 7 years as a virtual museum curator and director, I find most like other artists in the "real world." I have to do all the organizational work! I should know. I was once the president of the largest arts organization in Hawaii (500+ members; never again!) and was a gallery proprietor for 5 years in a losing cause to promote experimental art in a provincial cultural outpost like Honolulu.
Soho too Gallery & Loft
Most artists want just the opportunity to "show," expecting for an annual membership fee that the few elected volunteers to do all the work. Most just appear at shows to "drop off" then "pick up" unsold works for club exhibitions, then "disappear back into the woodwork." I have nothing against this nature of man. I too would prefer to just make art in the studio and leave all the mundane marketing to somebody else. So when I opened the virtual museum I was mentally prepared to deal with the reality of having to do everything myself, even in cyber-space, unless I hired help.
4. "The Webists" would never have become a lasting online group without the extreme dedication, hard work, and motherly compassion of Ingrid Kamerbeek. To lose her would be the demise of the group. I wish those who seek "democratic reform" good fortune with their own initiatives to expand resources and discourse on organization and events. But I have seen many such ambitious groups come and go because it always takes at least one exceptional person who is willing to sacrifice one's life for the needs of the group. It's a daily chore to keep it vital and growing, to referee bickering among artists with healthy egos. Opposing parties, dissent and conflict, that is the process of democracy. It can lengthen the time and energy needed to get between two points, such as a show proposal and its execution.
So this is the history of how organizational style came about for "The Webists." Our methodology is to maintain "simplicity for longevity." Leave the paper work to us, but as members share art ideas, contribute effort by hosting art projects. All are free to create their own initiatives without conflict from members. Those who oppose a project can "vote" by simply not participating in it. This is simple enough, conflict avoidance, helps us to remain "one happy family." By attrition, those who cannot live by such simple house rules depart, leaving a residual more homogenous in organizational preference..
For those who remain loyal to this calling of Webism and our improvised informal group structure, more creative opportunities abound! And of course, at no charge, except for the willingness to share one's art with the world and accept the ideals presented in a manifesto made for good folks.
We are embarking on new software to create a new 3D site using something other than cumbersome vrml. See the sample gallery of the Museum of Webism, now "under construction." I see myself, like a worker ant, building room after room for years to come, once I get my hands of the software (still under development in Ireland), featuring each and every member still a Webist. I leave at the end of this month from Honolulu to the state of Oregon in search of relocating my family/life to a less expensive area of the USA.
Hawaii, along with New York City and San Francisco, is the most expensive place to live. By choosing a more economic area on the West Coast, reside closer to major cities in the USA, and present digital art in a more high tech oriented local economy than Waikiki Beach, I am taking concrete steps towards fulfilling my lifelong dream of establishing a brick-and-mortar digital gallery and museum. If rents are affordable who knows, maybe soon a physical "Museum of Webism" to complement it's online sister virtual 3D museum? Think how the interaction and cross-promotion will build traffic at both ends!
I have been called it; it was mentioned in email chats; it was blown out of proportion. Those inclined to jump to conclusions, misinterpret content and not check the facts, accused me of egotistically calling myself a "guru" for the group. Some not only criticized but jumped ship. I am not a guru, just a focused artist with a vision that I am willing to share. Through sheer numbers we can make a difference in establishing digital art as the forefront new art movement as well as the most compatible art medium within the Internet platform for display and accessibility.
Art friends may come and go, but I plan to stick it out until this mission of acceptance and recognition of our work is complete. Masterpieces exists online and cannot forever be denied; our day will come.
I wish all Webists, loyal or departed, holiday greetings and a productive New Year. Along with Ingrid, I look forward to meeting the new yet unfound Webists of 2005 and becoming acquainted with their unique contributions to the cause of Webism.