Two Coats of Paint

two coats of paint featureHello Wikipedia, it’s the blogosphere calling

If you have any experience contributing to Wikipedia, you’ll appreciate “Wikipedia Art,” an online project launched today by artists Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern. Of course, by the time you read this, the whole project may have been deleted by the anonymous band of pedantic Wikipedia editors (see Update below). The artists want everyone to sign on as Wikipedia contributors and keep the project alive.

Here’s an excerpt of Kildall’s and Stern’s Wikipedia entry for “Wikipedia Art:”

“It was performatively birthed through a dual launch on Wikipedia and MyArtSpace, where art critic, writer, and blogger, Brian Sherwin, introduced and published their staged two-way interview, ‘Wikipedia Art – A Fireside Chat.’ The interview ended with Stern declaring, ‘I now pronounce Wikipedia Art.’ Kildall’s response: ‘It’s alive! Alive!’

“Within one hour, it was marked for deletion. Following that, the Wikipedia entries on Stern, Kildall and Sherwin suddenly had Wikipedia standards problems which were non-existent before (in Stern’s case, for nearly 2 years before). Later that day, in response to Kildall and Stern’s call ‘to join in the collaboration and construction / transformation / destruction / resurrection of the work’, Shane Mecklenburger linked every word on the page, a move to ‘clarify’ which arguably highlighted theQuixotic, absurd utility of Wikipedia’s enterprise. Artintegrated erased highlights from the original article only that were made by Shane Mecklenberger referencing Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘Erased Dekooning’.

“The Wikipedia Art page is a self-aware exploration of Wikipedia’s mission of collective epistemology. It enacts and describes Wikipedia’s strengths, weaknesses, potential, and limits as both a system of understanding and as a contemplative object of beauty. It demonstrates how a Wikipedia page can transcend the medium of Wikipedia while retaining its basic utilitarian Wikipedia function. The page is similarly a self-aware example of the strengths, weaknesses, potential, and limits of new media art. Wikipedia Art also calls into question the basic function and purposes of the encyclopedia itself. “

Don’t forget to check out the ongoing debate on Wikipedia Art’s “Articles for Deletion Page,” where you can watch the Wiki editors spar with artists and advocates over the project’s right to exist. Ironically, Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, does not accept online sources (like art blogs) to verify references. Even more curious are the unsophisticated ways they apply their Guidelines for Notability…but that’s another matter.

Update: The “Wikipedia Art” entry was deleted from Wikipedia on 2/15/09 by “Werdna,” an eighteen-year-old Wikipedia buff from Australia who recently graduated from high school. Werdna (real name Andrew Garrett) has been tinkering with Wikipedia since he was 14 years old. According to his user page, Andrew thinks that “we should delegate decisions to trusted users instead of involving the whole community in everything; that democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the other ones that have been tried; that it is perfectly fine to specialise away from article-writing, so long as you’re doing something useful; and that we should give the fairy penguin populations more rights and freedoms.”

“Wikipedia Art’s” Facebook Group can be found here. A list of project collaborators can be found here.