Mark Van de Walle

  • Tortoise

    Bongload. Try saying that word a couple of times, let it roll around on your tongue: bongload, bongload. . . . Listening to TORTOISE, you get the feeling that the guys in this Chicago band use it a lot (both the word and the stuff). If this sounds like a criticism, it’s not, really: the oceanic, spaced-out instrumentals that comprise their three albums (1994’s Tortoise, 1995’s Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters, and the recent Millions Now Living Will Never Die) simply happen to be the perfect accompaniment to the rustling of plastic baggies and the muffled inhalations of bud appreciation; to the

  • Mark Van de Walle on Art on the Web

    To be perfectly honest, most of what’s filed under Art on the Net is kind of dull. Some of this has to do with technology. In spite of the fact that “digital” in common parlance is synonymous with “flawless reproduction,” in the case of the Net, it’s not. Flat is flat. And unless you have an amazing (read: amazingly expensive) monitor, it’s even worse. This means that the majority of museum sites are little more than online visitor’s guides: floor plans, limited representations of the museum’s holdings, hours open and fee information. When elaborate technologies such as QuickTime and video linkups are used to make the sites more engaging, they cause serious speed problems, which means that the more ambitious art-related projects on the Web are often a pain to look at.
    Still, none of this has prevented the art world from going online, just like everybody else. Most museums have Web sites, many of the major (and some of the smaller) galleries have pages of one kind or another, and, as of two years ago, there were 5,000 artists with projects on the Net (a number that has probably doubled since then). The real question for anyone shelling out money to get on the Net is the same one everybody else has: “How can I make a buck?” The answer, for now anyway, is that you probably can’t.
    Where gallerists are concerned, having a presence on the Web, at least for the moment, is pretty much the same as having an ad in a magazine, except that this magazine has millions and millions of pages, no particular target market, and no real table of contents (of course a Web site is cheaper than an ad in a glossy national mag). Still, most of the gallery owners I talked to felt that it was better to have a site than not. “It hasn’t made any difference for me,” one dealer admitted, “except that some people said that they saw it and thought it was cool.” In a business where cachet and aura are such a big part of what’s being sold, that “cool” may be reason enough to have a page.
    For artists, the lure of the frontier may be more primary than promotion or financial gain, though one I spoke to said, “I have gotten some shows, and I got multimedia work because pea pie saw my page. Which means I have enough money to keep on making art.”
    In that spirit, here are four sites to help you work:

    Mark Van de Walle is a frequent contributor to Artforum.

  • Moyra Davey

    It’s just, you know, everywhere. Clutter. Piling up with no particular order or end in sight. At least that’s the way it is in Moyra Davey’s elegantly disarrayed photocollages: she constructs her work from a wide variety of photographic papers (standard color paper, photo transfers onto lined yellow writing paper), and a variety of formats (Super-8 stills, enlarged 35 mm. shots), arranging the results on white paper within slim frames. Inside these confines, the order of things is less apparent. There are photos of stacks of books packed, perched, and leaning precariously on old gray-painted

  • Paul Ramirez Jonas

    Paul Ramirez Jonas really loves history’s losers. He loves them so much, in fact, that he’s devoted himself to resurrecting them, to re-creating on a small scale all the stuff that didn’t quite work out. In his most recent show, he focuses on two objects that met with limited success (whirligigs and radiometers), and one extravagant failure (the battleship Maine). The whirligigs will look familiar to whoever’s spent time in the Land of American Country Colonial (read: the suburbs) or in Antique Shoppes. Reminiscent of weathervanes, they’re metal cutouts in various shapes mounted on posts, usually

  • Joel R. L. Phelps

    Back in the days when everyone believed Bruce Lee was the baddest guy walking the planet, they used to tell this story about how he could reach right into your chest and take your heart out so fast he could show it to you, still beating, before you died. Probably Bruce never actually did that, but JOEL R. L. PHELPS sure does: one minute you’re pushing the buttons on your stereo, everything more or less fine, depending. Then Warm Springs Night starts up, and midway through you’re staring at your heart, right there in front of you, pumping away in time, going beat, beat, beat. . . .

    Neat trick—and

  • the Dark Side of the Web

    By the time you read this, the Communications Decency Act will have made the Net safe for kids, worrywart parents, and grandstanding politicians alike, by imposing the archaic obscenity laws drafted by Anthony Comstock at the turn of the century on the new frontier. In theory, the nation’s youth need to be saved from the sea of kiddie porn, homemade-bomb instructions, and whatever’s going on at In practice, mostly what they’re being “saved” from is an endless array of Pamela Anderson-Lee and Anna Nicole Smith pictures. But with a little planning, you can still journey to the American heart of darkness with perfect ease.

    Mark Van de Walle is a frequent contributor to Artforum.

  • Andrea Robbins and Max Becher

    Andrea Robbins and Max Becher take charmingly deadpan, documentary-style photographs in which seemingly nothing much happens, but, in fact, a lot does. Take the series about cigars: seven photos of nearly identical ends of cigars, complete with nearly identical bands. There are two cigars in each frame, laid side by side, as if for the purpose of comparison; there’s also a framed text that goes along with the photos, explaining, in the same deadpan style, that these images juxtapose Cuban and Cuban-exile versions of various cigar brands. Another, equally deadpan, series depicts fossilized dinosaur

  • the Mountain Goats

    I was 29 years old, rolling through New Jersey suburbs in the Vista Cruiser, when the Mountain Goats saved my life. I didn’t know who they were, didn’t even know that they were a band. All I understood was that there was this reedy, not-quite Neil Young, not-quite-tenor voice humming out of the car radio in gorgeous lo-fi, backed up by equally gorgeous lo-fi lone guitar. The voice sang: and Bill Gates/will single-handedly spearhead the Heaven 17 revival/and the Chicago Cubs will beat every team in the league/and the Tampa Bay Bucs will make it all the way to the top/and I will love you again.

  • Celluloid Sites

    HAVING ACCESS TO movies on the Net sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. In theory, you could download an endless array of stills, sound clips, and even actual movie clips; you could get in-depth information on the making of a particular flick, and the people behind it. In practice, you get Brad Pitt and Pamela Anderson homepages, bland commercial studio sites that tell you about as much as ads do, and QuickTime clips that take forever to download. At a certain point, you have to ask yourself, Do I really need to wait 15 minutes for a trailer I’ve already seen? Still there are bright spots; here are five favorites.

    Mark Van de Walle writes regularly for Artforum.

  • Jessica Stockholder

    Take a short walk through Jessica Stockholder’s Your Skin In This Weather Bourne Eye-Threads & Swollen Perfume, 1995: screaming-neon-green linoleum runner (made complete only by the appearance of scuff marks—street-colored, boot-shaped—trailing in your wake) starting in the entry hall outside the downstairs gallery, leading up to sky-blue concrete climbing up the far wall inside; the wall itself white, punctuated by blocks of color—pink, yellow, sky blue, dark blue, orange, hunter green. The other walls white white. Especially when seen against the pale-pink carpet block, itself suspended from

  • Sites of Style

    The Web is best for two things: commerce and working out personal obsessions. Because fashion, of course, involves both, you could argue that the fashion world and the World Wide Web should be a perfect match. And you would be right—sort of. Remember, on the Web, visuals take a long, long time to download. By the time a cyber fashion plate hits your screen, it may be out of style.

    Mark Van de Walle