Bad at Sports Episode 171: Mark Napier and Dirty Words

December 7, 2008 · Print This Article

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This week a sick Duncan MacKenzie bumbles his way through a dramatic and sweeping discussion with Mark Napier.  They speak of “Net Art,” its less then stellar critics, and how we think about these new kinds of cultural products.

Napier was an early pioneer of net art and is still charting it’s future at  His interview is followed by Terri and Joanna discussing the new book “Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex” by Ellen Sussman.

The intro is a gem.

2 thoughts on “Bad at Sports Episode 171: Mark Napier and Dirty Words”

  1. An intriguing interview. Mark can speak clearly about sometimes very difficult processes and the like. And a painter at heart (nah nah nuh nah Duncan)!

    I liked his explanation of “where the art is” in his artworks: a combination of his program (as “tool” It would claim), the process of interaction with it AND the resulting “objects” or images — all of those things. I had also noticed that a clump of critics of new media have difficulty with what philosophers call “locating the aesthetic object.” (The screenplay, for example, is not the artwork in a film.) They have difficulty because they are categorizing to quickly — not because they know only painting, or know only collage, as Duncan insisted. In fact many hardly know anything about painting nowadays. In short, they may be well-meaning, but it is simply lazy thinking.

    I like Duncan’s insistance on collage as a thought or creative process. That, I think, is what was radical about Picasso’s collages — leading to assemblage, montage, installation. Good point — not just little cute pretty paper hobbyist doodads.

  2. Willie Vinton says:

    First thought: Mark Napier, as painter, sounds to me (and apparently sounded to himself in 1995) as though his approach to painting was completely moribund. In the time it took Mark to spout his first few words concerning his html work he was already head and shoulders above his work with paint. Duncan’s “wordy ass-hat” commentary was right on…”Modernist/Art for Art Sake to politically engaged/intellectual activist” (this is without commentary about exactly how successful the paintings of Mark Napier actually were…or how aware Mark was of his practice as painting and its position regarding a larger dialogue of painting…). This brings to mind the personal interest parallel between Mark’s process as a painter and as a digital html artist: the same Modernist conception of “novelty”, “flatness”, and spontaneous overflow/constraint dialectic of personal gesture within a framed space begin to highlight Mark’s reliance on mark making (novel tools) to create novel methods of creating meaning. The significance is in the media (as a painter he had little to say about the baggage of painting’s history) – as an html artist, Mark contributes to a “new” media (history in the making), which I feel reignited his practice.

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