passages

Tom Moody

An undated animation by Tom Moody.

THERE WERE ONLY A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE who were in New York’s Net art scene of the early ’00s. It was a scene of square pegs, as everyone had come from different fields. There were dystopian cyberlibertarians, Lower East Side performance artists, West Coast cowboy hat–wearing BBS hippies, trad contemporary artists who decided to “drop out,” and, of course, Tom Moody. Tom—who looked like he stepped right out of a middle management I.M.B. office in 1976—was a polymath. Once on a studio visit to his tidy, sunny, and quite pleasant New Jersey flat in 2005, we discussed his prints, writing, music, art, and DJing. Having come from traditional art criticism (writing for Artforum for example), he was already juggling in his head extremely complex ideas regarding the new forms made possible by digital tools and the Internet. These ideas would become influential and provide a conceptual structure for several of the movements that emerged in the Aughts—especially the (amazing) Surf Club scene. That’s not to say he was on the sidelines as a critic and theorist. He was truly in the mix as an artist, and as a musician as well. He was one of the first people to take my own work seriously very early (more seriously than I!), and on the flip side, he was also one of the first to really hold my feet to the fire as my career progressed (and never let up till he passed). These days, twenty years later, whenever I see someone from the old scene, I’m immediately filled with warmth and enjoy nothing more than sitting down for a coffee to reconnect. I am saddened that I will not have an opportunity to do that with Tom.

Cory Arcangel is an artist, composer, and writer based in Stavanger, Norway.

 

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