Ray Beldner

Flickr, Flarfing and Babelfish: The Internet and Art Practice

Date 3/2/08

Affiliation Aritist, San Francisco


“The fact that everything is possible on the Internet reveals mankind's true essence, the aspiration towards freedom.” Pierre Lévy, “Collective Intelligence: A Civilization”

The ubiquity of computers and access to the Internet has put the greatest libraries, image databases, and interactive tools at the fingertips of most artists working today. As a result, traditional artistic practice is exploding as artists explore the potential of these new technologies and incorporate them into their working methodologies.

In his talk, sculptor Ray Beldner will describe the vital role the Internet plays in his own creative process. He will present examples of work in which he has mined porn websites looking for “fine art,” and used online language translation programs—like a game of telephone—to remake some of JFK’s greatest speeches to hilarious and ironic effect. He has even dabbled in the poetry of Google searches to create ”Flarf” verse, which he will read. These everyday uses of the Internet are only a few examples of how the web has liberated artists’ understanding of “found” materials and is leading to the greatest expansion and democratization of creative practice in our history.


Like many artists, Ray Beldner makes art from the stuff of everyday life: clothing, cash, stolen items, porn. The work takes the form of sculpture, installation, digital media, text-based work, and applied arts. It is frequently derived from conceptual ideas that deconstruct hierarchical systems: “high art” versus “low art,” “intrinsic value” versus “commercial value,” and so on with ironic humor.

Born in San Francisco, Beldner received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from Mills College. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally and his work can be found in many public and private collections including the Federal Reserve Board, Washington D.C., the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Oakland Museum of California, and the San Jose Museum of Art.

Most recently, Beldner had a solo exhibit at the Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco and was included in the shows: /The Western Front/, Charles James Gallery, Los Angeles and /Greetings From the American Dream/, Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA. Forthcoming exhibits include /Inventing Marcel Duchamp: The Dynamics of Portraiture/¸ National Portrait Gallery, Washington D. C., and /Redesign: Transforming the Ordinary/, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada.

-- As of 3/2/08

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