For an artist statement, I'm posting the Knowledge and Skills Assessment [KSA] I submitted in 2009 or -10 for an application for the job of NEA New Media Art Director. The KSA specifically covers my media art history and praxis in detail. It doesn't cover much of what I've done as a painter, but I'll get to that. ~Paul
My expertise in Media Arts is rooted in practical production technique as well as field analysis and current theory. As lead artist of innovative multidisciplinary collectives operating in a spectrum of presentation environments, I understand the logistics of integrating new and traditional art effectively in order to reach or develop the broadest audience. Whether the target demographic is local and community-centric, or global and emerging, I have developed strategies and tactics utilizing the best tools and practices available to generate interest in art in its dimensional iterations and expand the art horizon to include new media. I have a proven and documented track record of successful outcomes inside the traditional art field and in new domains becoming available for creative exploration. I have engaged in productive collaborations with emerging and accomplished artists from diverse cultural and technological backgrounds for art projects located in urban and rural settings. These productions have always demonstrated mindfulness of global media evolution, and have been designed to speak to that concurrency. My extensive academic training, fieldwork and professional affiliations have permitted me to maintain strong ties to the trends and concerns of the constantly evolving Media Arts domain.
As the foremost dimensional artist operating in the domain, I have consistently incorporated computer/web-based technologies as an early-adopter, since the early 90s. Friends, peers and associates have played important roles in educating me to possibilities and practicalities in new media arts. They include Jennifer Neiderst, the author of the O’Reilly HTML texts; Stephen Miller, the producer of one of the first purely digital artist websites (mkzdk.org); Ash Black and others at Studio X in Santa Fe, one of the first cultural retail nexus portals; Donald Ashworth Cox III, Internet 2 Director in the late 90s; and many others. I have always sought out the convergence of science and art, in the tradition of Leonardo da Vinci, and am inspired by Marshall McLuhan’s notion that civilization’s future depends on both. That said, as a production artist, student of the art business and immersive digital end-user, I am also aware of the economics of electronic invention, especially in the arena of consumer portables. The boundaries, which until very recently separated the art and technology markets, are increasingly blurred. This is true of most industries.
For me, new media has been a valuable tool for mapping individual (personal) and collective (historical) topologies in an art context. I noticed how interactive electronics mesh peoples’ daily lives via networked communication, shaping things we do, see, hear and feel. Media, I realized, was redirecting the mind’s eye in art-related fashion, generating new questions about what we know, how we become who we are and why we live the way we do. I recognized early on that new media was the art historical hinge of my lifetime. Ahead of the curve, in solo and collective projects in the United States and abroad, I introduced new media narratives as content in shows that combined electric and analog media in traditional and alternative art spaces. By the mid-90s I was using Internet cafes as production and exhibit environments, first in Santa Fe at Montezuma’s Café in 1995, then in the Electric Frog in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1996. At the Frog I presented one of the first hybrid traditional and new media exhibits, consisting of texts, objects and web-based material. The dimensional format allowed for the weaving of related narrative threads, both autobiographical and historical, into a faceted, mobile travelogue. The Electric Frog exhibit developed into one of the first international multi-platform and multi–venue artist programs with integrated content. The art migrated from An Tuirreann Art Center on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, to retail galleries in Nashville Tennessee and eventually into private and public collections including King County Hospital’s in Seattle. Collaborators included City of Edinburgh graphic designer Stuart Adie and accomplished Scottish photographer Diane Barrie. At this point I had established the principle components and practicum for the next decade’s work in dimensional art.
In 1996 I began to explore digital printmaking, exhibiting one of the first fine art bodies of work created on large format printers anywhere by anyone (Cowboyz + Cowgirlz, Four Crows Gallery, Nashville). I produced a series of original images, sampling iconic Western historical portraits and Hollywood portraits, which I intermingled with original contemporary portraits in computer-generated pictorial space. The colorful digital paintings were output on canvas and finished with hand-painted elements. That exhibit also marked my trial run as collective lead artist. I coordinated a print /e-mail marketing campaign, guided by Ellen Rudick of Team Design, whose production management helped garner a Grammy for Team for the Hank Williams Boxed Set, a trendsetting project in the field. Other collaborators, Charlotte Avant and Daniel Tashian, contributed to a complex exhibit format combining soundtrack, design and moving image. Since Cowboyz, my progression as an artist printmaker continues to evolve through the present spanning the emergence of numerous hardware, software and output improvements in the digital print field. That timeframe spans the almost total conversion of the print/camera industry from film to digital. Most recently, I produced unique sculptural prints using a large format Mimaki hi-resolution UV curation printer, applying images directly onto acrylic substrates/trans-surfaces for an exhibit at Timothy Yarger Fine Arts in Beverly Hills in 2008. The presentation also featured optical feedback effect (OpFeek) interactive projections thrown on monumental cast vinyl wall holographs.
The collective framework is a central aspect of my work now, and has been since I established DddD (1999) and 01 (2000) in Nashville. When I first started forming collective projects, I experienced significant resistance to the idea that art need not be the product of artist isolation and other conditions of lack. My high-performing and fluid collectives consisted of a diverse roster of artists, filmmakers, scientists, post-production and web professionals, composers, musicians, dance professionals, illustrators, sculptors, production experts, wordsmiths, designers, architects, engineers, videographers, installation, movement and performance artists and craftspeople. We maintained a rigorous exhibit schedule and used those exhibits as showcases for multi-platform innovation. Today, only a decade later, this approach is normative. Our impact was not limited to the artistic and technical. I helped found new models for private-public sponsorship at the institutional level, such as Destination Gallery at First Union Tower, in addition to significant in-kind donation programs made possible by major corporations like MCSi and Apple through their local affiliates. These partnerships enabled the introduction of new electronic technologies for Internet, audio and visual content in museums, galleries, foundations, alternative spaces, performance venues and private or semi-private residential and commercial locations, and for early iterations of “urban screens” or mobile screenings. The dimensional promotion of ongoing projects applied electronic technologies before or as they reached market, in conjunction with traditional media, such as radio, print press with advertising and hard copy mailers, and television. My development of cohesive identity and branding approaches allowed for the optimized use of new media technologies, such as digital networked contact campaigns, blogging, image push through combined virtual and actual database-based networks, long (in web-relative terms) before the trend mainstreamed.
I have devoted thousands of hours to open sourcing new media art, embracing the web as a publishing tool to promote awareness of the domain and its implications. Aesthetic and technical transparency is rudimentary to dimensional production. Any and all apps developed for or in my projects have been published in free libraries of online archived texts, images and movies. The Art for Humans (AFH) photo archive, for example, contains close to 90,000 stills. The AFH Blog has logged well over a million hits and half-a-million downloads, since 2005. Initially, this activity defied common art-world notions of proprietary creative authorship. Starting in 2000, I have used Blogger, Fotolog, Flickr, YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, Wiki, Tumblr, Wordpress, Ebay, Etsy, Vimeo, Slider, Twitter, Zotero, Delicious, NING and other platforms to make my solo and collective work and research available to all. The Art for Humans-branded social media platforms complement the artist nexus site (artforhumans.com), the mission of which is to present, promote and distribute new media art content, art economics and media philosophy to the broadest audience possible. Art for Humans is one of the most highly trafficked individual new media artist sites in the world. The online galleries have exhibited made-for-web exhibits and web-only books. Art for Humans has also been a critical platform for emergent trends in art media and media philosophy. Topics range among all creative fields and draw data from all social sectors. The AFH online configuration is transitioning to a Cloud computing format for 2011-2.
I have consistently created projects that anticipate developments in the new media art field. Some notable projects I have presented in art shows include: “A Prayer for Clean Water” (2005) in which we created an interactive kiosk for generative artwork, translating text “prayers” through software into graphics for display in the actual exhibit and online, with a printable copy sent via email to the “prayer-data” contributor’s inbox (predating current practices in data visualization). In 2002 I commenced a tactical art campaign called “37212: NOT JUST A ZIP CODE/A WAY OF LIFE” that pushed memes through community retail and word-of-mouth buzz pipelines, predating the tactical advertising trends of the past several years. I have built on that project by utilizing Web 2.0 social media tools (Twitter: ARTIFICIAL PERSONS DON’T CARE) to help shape major media discussions with long-term effects. I have used multi-platform formats to disseminate comprehensive curricula and syllabus content, first through traditional educational channels, then through web-based content management systems to a global wired classroom, with the help of AFH WIKI, blogs and Nings. In consultancies, I have proposed designs for distribution hierarchies for photographic art archives in multiple formats – both binary and hard-copy or as unique objects – from free baseline or entry levels to luxury markets (Associated Press Proposal, consultancy for photographer Steven Day). I am currently embarking on a phase of academic publishing, submitting in digital humanities protocols. I am exploring options for releasing data in downloadable formats outside “gated” access modes, through scalable transaction nodes (Web Studies Conference 2010, Toluca, Mexico, “Into Dimensionism”). Finally, I’m interested in reviving a new media-based “illuminated manuscript’ format design for faceted platforms, but specifically for release on e-reader tools. I am always scanning for apps that serve multiple functions as clickable entertainment, inspiration, invitation to discourse, open peer challenge, and free speech exchange (AFH Tumblr Array, 2009).
My Masters projects specifically focused on the development of a multi-use facility model, structured as private enterprise-public service hybrid, existing as self-sustaining entity in the community arts ecology, operating multi-directionally with developers, educators, artists, retailers, manufacturers and product distributors, performers, analysts, institutions and foundations, and arts organizations of every description, from local to international. The proofs were actualized in HUM 10+1, one of the first online collective exhibit cycles married to an “actual” exhibit cycle – ART FOR HUMANS GALLERY CHINATOWN, which consisted of several dozen exemplar exhibits, performances and screenings by artists from around the world, launched over a four-month phased timeline, in what at the time was possibly the “hottest” visual arts district anywhere. These innovations were accompanied by prodigious documentation and field analysis and evaluation, posted on the web in close to real-time, with supporting culturally sensitive historical context, and comparative reviews. Critic Emma Gray of Artnet.com, the most comprehensive online arts nexus in the world, wrote of AFH Gallery Chinatown, “Paul McLean…built a strong multidisciplinary multimedia collective, using as a primary source the MySpace, YouTube and Flickr communities.”
Throughout my career I have sought to continuously expand my knowledge of arts ecology and economy, and to develop a thorough comprehension of cultural dynamics affecting the exchange or transmission of art, craft and ideas. By engaging the domain as a writer, a private tutor, classroom educator, radio program host and student I have gained perspective on new media art’s pertinent issues. My grasp of new media is rooted in “old” media - history, archeology, conservation, and language studies - and informed by philosophy and social investigation or analysis. Old and New together help one avoid the infinite feedback loop. As I fold knowledge into practice as routine, I convey the lessons learned on the ground or in the arena of idea-exchange through object demonstrations accessible to all in the public and private spheres. Important milestones in this trajectory include extensive involvement in several of the nation’s top gradated cultural markets, including Santa Fe, Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles and most recently New York City. My multi-residency in Eureka, California, hosted by Americans for the Arts affiliate Ink People Center for the Arts, one of the nation’s original rural art centers, in conjunction with the Morris Graves Foundation and a strong representation of local private and public arts-related entities, provides a dimensional template for the synthesis of community resources toward common cultural purposing. For research purposes, I think it’s relevant that when I performed this six-month production under the auspices of the AFH Journeyman Project, Eureka topped the list small art towns in America according to author John Villani.
Relationships contributing to my perspectives involve recognizable figures in the international art world, such as: Richard Tuttle, whose 1995 Venice Biennale production I participated in at Goldleaf Framemakers of Santa Fe, under the guidance of the artist and master gilder and artist Martin Horowitz; collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel, to whom I was introduced by Tuttle; Frank Stella, to whom I was introduced by collectors and public art advocates Dan and Connie Lembark, who also introduced me to public artists such as Richard Haas, Stephen Antonakos, and others; Santa Fe artists Bob Wade – an NEA visual art grantee – Elias Rivera, Woody Gwyn, Tom Palmore, James Havard, Ron Robles, designer of the Georgia O’Keefe museum building, and others.
As a result of continuing education recently I have cultivated relationships with and/or received instruction from artists and arts or management experts through my MFA and Arts Management Masters courses at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and masters-related work in Los Angeles. Artists include painter and educator John Millei, recently given significant kudos on artnet.com, L.A.-based painter and collectivist David Amico, pioneering sound artist Michael Brewster, Susan Joyce of Fringe Exhibitions, A-list gallerist Mihai Nicodim, L.A. Times art critic and curator David Pagel, Robert Berman of Santa Monica Auctions, Mark Allen of innovative community collective Machine Project, much-lauded artist and professor Steve Roden, urban screens pioneer Anne Bray of L.A. Freewaves, art and technology stars The McCoys, MacArthur award winner Mark Bradford and others.
I worked with management experts such as Joseph Maciarello, long-time collaborator and co-author of Management with 2002 Medal of Freedom awardee Peter Drucker. Maciariello was also my Drucker School masters thesis advisor. Shared leadership authority Craig Pearce helped shape my leadership self-assessment through the lens of organizational behavior, using case studies comparatively. I attended seminar presentations with creativity studies progenitor Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi and creativity authority Sir Kenneth Robinson. L.A. County Arts Commission Director Laura Zucker guided me through grant processes, using the actual LACAC grant-processing documentation as the case study. My arts management training at CGU allowed for direct interaction with many other notable international, national and Southern-California-based economics and arts-org figures, with whom I shared classroom and individual exchanges. In the course of my studies at CGU, I obtained intensive education in all areas of arts management, negotiation, marketing, arts-org accounting and financial development practices, human resources, funding development, programming, mission development and execution. Proximity to metropolitan Los Angeles afforded access to major U.S. cultural institutions, their representatives and leadership: L.A. Opera, L.A. Unified School District, L.A. County Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Idyllwild Arts Academy, L.A. Symphony, and donor foundations such as the Irvine Foundation and others. I was afforded the opportunity to access insider data, such as financials, and hear how organizational leadership works from the organization leaders, which has vastly improved my skill set, derived prior from mostly artistic production.
In the summer of 2010 I commenced doctoral studies at the European Graduate School, in Saas Fee, Switzerland, where I attended the Internet and media philosophy intensives-seminar with some of the domain’s most relevant voices, theorists and practitioners, as well as other powerful figures in the EGS lineage, including electronic knowledge and technology anthologist Friedrich Kittler, Geert Lovink, Hendrik Speck, Bruce Sterling, Lev Manovich, Paul Miller (DJ Spooky), Mitchell Joachim, Jean-Luc Nancy, Sylvere Lotringer, and others. My immediate advisor is EGS founder Wolfgang Schirmacher, and my current central interests include Jean Baudrillard and layered- or Hyperreality, as evidenced in dimensional time, triangulated on specific objects, both artificial or derivative and natural. This investigation builds on foundational studies I conducted on Donald Judd and the arts destination phenomenon of Marfa, Texas, including visits to both Chinati and Judd Foundations, and exhibiting institutions across the U.S., during my MFA course. My current artwork focuses on the Matterhorns in Switzerland and Disneyland, and their millions of iterations in the media and arts, exploring the attached design-arcs and fictions, digitization processes, compression, duplication, reproduction, re-mediation, interpretation, subject-orientation, mobilization and objectification, among other dimensional aesthetic considerations.