Pioneering Net Artist and Critic Dies –

Tom Moody, an internet artist, musician, blogger and art critic, died Saturday morning from complications and pneumonia related to Covid, according to his gallery, And/Or in Pasadena, California. Moody was in his sixties.

Moody’s committed to the lo-fi internet aesthetic through the use of older software, sometimes referred to as abandonware, like MSPaintbrush. He was involved in many early net art groups, sometimes called surf clubs, which were considered very influential.

Through these clubs, particularly Nasty Nets, Computer Art and Club Internet, Moody was included in a network of influential net artists which included JODI, Olia Lialina, Petra Cortright, Ryder Ripps and others. His dedication to form led him to blog about net art and its possibilities for 20 years, creating a vital archive of the development and analysis of early internet art. He also relied heavily on, where Moody spent dozens of hours a week after other surf clubs went silent, according to Ripps.

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“He would respect everybody as an artist, even though most of those people didn’t even know what Art Basel was or anything like that,” Ripps said of Moody. “They weren’t artists in the traditional sense. But this type of scene, this type of art, is the most authentic and the most meaningful, for me and I also think of Tom. There were these 16-year-olds that Tom would mentor and befriend.

A graduate of the University of Virginia with a double major in studio art and English literature, Moody began blogging in early 2001 after artist Bill Schwarz invited Moody to Digital Media Tree, a blogging collective created by Jim Bassett. Moody’s blog will eventually feature in 2005 Art in America article entitled “Art in the blogosphere”.

Moody posted his work, much of it done in MSPaintbrush, on his Blog, where he also commented on net-art topics like the poetics of glitch art or the advent of NFTs, as well as seemingly random topics, like milk and the works of science fiction writer Doris E. Piserchia . Throughout this time he also wrote as a critic for art forum. This blog represents a permanent witness of the evolution of net-art.

Along with artists like Lorna Mills and JODI, Moody was among the first to embrace GIFs as an artistic medium. Ripps recalled that he “approached it like an animated canvas”.

In one maintenance with Telic Arts Exchange, Moody said he considers GIFs “the purest expression of the Democratic Web and along with JPEGs and PNGs” because they are not subject to subscription or ownership limitations . Moody’s sold its GIFs just like artists now sell NFTs. GIFs would become a part of his artistic practice, both on his blog and on exhibitions in physical art spaces, including those held at And/Or and the New Museum in New York.

But his GIFs went beyond those spaces, also acting as some of the initial decorative material for many early sites and blogs. Documentation of how its GIF OptiDisk 16 (2006), a flashing ring of concentric circles in red and blue, has traveled and been appropriated for various uses on the Internet. As Sally McKay wrote in her test on GIFs “The Effect of Animated GIFs (Tom Moody, Petra Cortright, Lorna Mills)”, Moody intentionally made the first GIF works, like OptiDisc 16, appear jerky. “The artist carefully timed distinct passages of movement between the different colored rings so that they did not move at exactly the same rate,” McKay wrote. “The jerky gaps between frames grab the viewer’s attention more.”

This lo-fi quality represents Moody’s greatest rejection of the sleek, transparent aesthetic the technology was heading towards. On the “About” page of his website, Moody wrote: “The computer is a tool, not magic, and has its own tragicomic limits while providing new means of expression and communication. I’m intrigued by the idea of ​​creating some kind of advanced art with this device – objects, images and installations that stand up to prolonged scrutiny in real space.

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