Geek Culture: Owie, 2011-present, writing-based process on Comicvine website; exhibited at VPA Faculty Exhibition, XL Projects, Syracuse, NY and Those Who Can, Palitz Gallery, New York, NY.


As a lifelong sci-fi and comic book fan, Chris is interested in how many pop culture fans don’t just passively absorb pop culture, but instead actively engage in cultural production in their own right by writing fan fiction, participating in cosplay, making video mash-ups, and so on.  The work of these fans is often unfairly derided due to its genre or the fans status as "amateurs"; the projects in Chris' Geek Culture series attempt to shine a positive spotlight on these issues as they play out via various comic-culture venues. Owie exists via ComicVine, the world's largest comic book wiki website.

"Owie" is Chris' username on the site.  ComicVine contains hundreds of thousands of wiki entries, including descriptions of individual issues, characters, and their creators. It is entirely written by comics fans worldwide, who volunteer their time out of a pure love for the medium. These wiki sections have strict guidelines, are written in intricate detail, and are aimed at creating a professional-style encyclopedia on comics. The site also has many discussion forums. Contrary to the stereotype of online conversations, ComicVine discussions are often highly intellectual and thoughtful, and there are large sections in which the users practice very evolved versions of debate and in-depth logical analysis.

Since the summer of 2011, Chris has extensively contributed to the wiki (Chris is approximately the 80th-highest wiki-writer out of 140,000+ users as of February 2012) and the discussion forums.  Chris doesn't do anything different from anyone else on the site. Owie, as an art project, exists solely to highlight this kind of activity as a worthwhile form of creative production. In essence, Chris thinks the everyday users' activities on this site are an interesting and enjoyable form of creative production that contributes to our overall culture in a way that is just as legitimate as traditional forms of cultural production (the "arts"), such as visual art, theater criticism, advertising, crochet, etc.

In a sense, Owie is similar to the way Ian Wilson's conversation pieces called attention to the cultural and communal value of everyday conversations, and in that way it is related to his Dinosaur Aesthetics lectures.

Of course, Owie doesn't only exist as an art project; it's also an honest expression of Chris' interests as a sincere comics fan!


Documentation:

You can find Chris' user profile on ComicVine here. From there, you can click around to see Chris' most recent wiki contributions, his comments in the forums, etc.

 

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