PJM: I am selecting my friend Joseph Nechvatal for the assignment. We began corresponding I think @10 years ago. The correspondence developed into a rich friendship, and one of the most valuable exchanges I have experienced in over three decades of artist2artist relationships, which I have discovered have a particular quality. Joseph, that said, is certainly acknowledged in the "art world" as an accomplished maker, thinker, writer, educator, arts and social activist. His art-technical achievements are unique in many respects, especially in the area that conjoins the digital/virtual, fine art, performance and theory. Joseph is a pioneer - e.g., a co-founder of thing.net and the prime virus art practitioner, plus much more - but he is in deep relation to both the history of art and its currency, as evidenced in his art-beat writings for Hyperallergic. As his longer texts demonstrate, Joseph is remarkable in his capacity to synthesize the many facets in play in art's creation, whatever the metadatic context, through what I might describe as the humane lens. Joseph brings a distinct quality of emotional coherence to his analysis, which may be associated with his fundamental openness to creative collaboration. Finally, Nechvatal inevitably introduces to his projects a sense of celebration, if not ritual, that is tolerant of complexity, flux, transgression, loss and a broad spectrum of experience and urgency beyond or in spite of convention. His is rarely a lonely or disengaged art, and this is obvious in what Joseph introduces in his pedagogical instruction, too. Perhaps what is most rare, and by that I mean special, about all the integrated phases of his life and art, is its consistency over time. Nechvatal's rigor, his sustained and dedicated effort is behind it from "start" to "finish," from conception through creation to presentation. Yet, in this viewer's estimation that rigor is never burdensome, either as a feature of production or its immaterial component. Spirit, or at least the wondering about spirit is always present in Joseph's work, and that wonder is not divorced from sensation and the mechanical, or physical reality insofar as it can be shared. I think this is a an abstractly conscious thing, like certain meta-poetry, and Joseph is a master at intertwining expressive fields, and a doctor, whose healing motivation itself invokes the amelioration of inevitable and unnecessary suffering alike, if only in a transitory instance of elevation/revelation through art by all means, via the best available technics.
- A 2012 interview with JN: http://www.eyewithwings.net/nechvatal/interview2012/Nechvatal_2012_Interview.htm
- Joseph's YouTube portal: https://www.youtube.com/user/Nechvatal
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Nechvatal
- Joseph's website: http://www.eyewithwings.net/nechvatal/