At 12pm (PST) on Feb 14th 2009, Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern launched the “Wikipedia Art” project, along with several collaborators, including Brian Sherwin, Patrick Lichty and Jon Coffelt.
An article appeared on Wikipedia — called “Wikipedia Art” — and minutes later, several online essays, interviews and blog postings were released and then referenced on its Wikipedia page, giving it external citations to make it “legitimate” and thereby initiating the feedback loop described in the original article. A copy of the work at this point can be found here. The ongoing press list is here.
Within an hour, the article was marked “AfD” (Article for Deletion) for not adhering to Wikipedia standards. The Wikipedia process for AfDs is to engage a debate about the Wikipedia-worthiness of the page for a period of least 5 days to let the Wikipedia community weigh in.
15 minutes later, the pre-existing Wikipedia pages for Scott Kildall, Nathaniel Stern and Brian Sherwin were also similarly tagged with “COI” tags (conflict of interest) and “Citation” tags (a precursor to article deletion) by the same Wikipedia editor that marked the Wikipedia Art article for deletion.
In the next several hours, a heated debate ensued on a deletion page for the project, with sides weighing whether to KEEP or DELETE its artcile. Many found the concept itself to be confusing. Did this point out a hole in the authority-structure of Wikipedia? Is it a valid work of art? A valid encyclopedic entry? Is it vandalism? Does it adhere to Wikipedia standards of notability? Is it improperly self-referential? See the debate here.
At the same time, several other online writers, responding to our press releases calling for collaboration wrote articles of their own, whilst collaborating artists began altering the state of the work, providing context and additional citations, creatively moving texts around, removing our names and linking every word.
15 hours later, “Werdna”, an 18-year old Wikipedia admin, promptly deleted the page, violating Wikipedia’s own requirement of a 5 day period for AfDs. In his profile, he describes himself as: “An old hand. I’ve been around since mid-2005″
In the wee hours of the morning, two different people added “Wikipedia Art” to the “Conceptual Art” page on Wikipedia. Both entries were quickly removed.
February 15th and ongoing, the aftermath continues, as more blogs and comment threads appear all over the art blogosphere, more discussions ensue on Wikipedia about the work’s “speedy deletion.”
For a taste, see “Help! I have created a monster” by the original Wikipedia editor (this is not the 18-year old), the self described “deletionist” who first marked it AfD. Here he expresses feelings of despair over the mess. In various comments, the artists are likened to three Ts: terrorists, trolls and Tristan Tzara. A longer list of such discussions can be found here.
The heated debates - linked to from here - also start moving from Wikipedia to the art blogosphere.
Monday, February 16th more blog coverage and debate about the intervention - notably on Networked_Performance and Art Fag City - mostly noting its immediate failure or success, but all keeping it alive.
Tuesday, February 17th further online discussion. A post on IDC (Institute for Distributed Creativity) generates ongoing discussion in academic circles with polarized responses, as does a feature on Rhizome.org’s front page.
April 5, follow-up interview on MyArtSpace, including news about potential legal issues around this site and its use of the word Wikipedia in the domain name.
April 23, Kildall and Stern go public with ongoing legal discussions between them and Wikipedia, who claim potential trademark infringement. It is covered by Corynne McSherry in her article “Wikipedia Threatens Artists for Fair Use,” at the Electronic Frontier Foundation web site.
June - November, we’re officially part of the Venice Biennale! Join us there by making a re-mix.
Wikipedia Art is dead. Long live Wikipedia Art!