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The Inclusive Vision

Essays in Honor of Larry Gross

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Edited By Paul Messaris and David W. Park

Larry Gross is one of the most influential figures in the history of media studies. In this collection of original essays, his former students reflect on his groundbreaking contributions to three major developments: the emergence of visual studies as a distinct field of media theory and research; the analysis of media fiction as a symbol of power structures and a perpetuator of social inequalities; and the growing scholarly attention to the relationships between mass media and sexual minorities.

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4. On the Digital Margins of Art Worlds: Art and Vernacular Creativity in Online Spaces (Ioana Literat)

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4. On the Digital Margins of Art Worlds: Art and Vernacular Creativity in Online Spaces

IOANA LITERAT

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re an artist …”

—Ed Halter

Riffing off of the famous New Yorker cartoon (“on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”), critic and curator Ed Halter (2015, p. 236) brings up a crucial issue regarding the status of Internet art within the larger context of contemporary digital culture: given the vastness of creative digital content—from memes to remixes to collaborative fiction—produced and circulated online, the boundaries between art and non-art on the Internet are becoming increasingly blurry. These distinctions are further complicated by the prominence of contemporary artists’ engagement with vernacular digital content (i.e. collecting, reframing and/or remixing user-generated content), as in Cory Arcangel’s Working on My Novel, a compilation of tweets containing the title phrase, or Eric Oglander’s Craigslist Mirrors, a collection of user-submitted photographs of mirrors posted for sale on Craigslist. Moreover, in many cases, this indistinguishability is a core feature of the work, as in Joel Holmberg’s Legendary Account, a series of profound philosophical questions posted among the otherwise banal inquiries on Yahoo Answers.

This essay examines the positioning of Internet art vis-a-vis vernacular digital creativity, interrogating the shifting boundaries between art and (what is traditionally considered) non-art in the online environment. If a work of Internet art and, respectively, of vernacular online creativity (such as...

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