Free reading: M/E/A/N/I/N/G: A Journal of Contemporary Art Issues

In August I was invited to contribute an essay to the 25th anniversary edition of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: A Journal of Contemporary Art Issues, an extraordinary collaboration between painters Mira Schor, Susan Bee, and their extended community of artists, critics, historians, theorists, poets. I’m still in the process of reading all the essays, but so far this issue is terrific. Chockablock with interesting ideas about art, politics and culture, it’s available both online and as a downloadable PDF file. If you teach, it would make a great text for your classes. My essay, Free Love, considers why artists are drawn to social media. Here’s an excerpt to get you started:

Consumer advocate Martin Lindstrom wrote in a New York Times op-ed recently about a casual fMRI experiment he conducted with smart phones. Testing sixteen participants (eight male, eight female), Lindstrom expected the experiment to reveal that we are addicted to our smart phones � that when the phones buzz, ding, or ring, our brains respond as they do when stimulated by drugs and alcohol. Instead what he discovered was that phone activity led to movement in the brain�s insular cortex � the realm of feeling, love, and compassion. Lindstrom concluded that we aren�t addicted to our devices, but that we love our gadgets the way we love a romantic partner or family member. I would suggest that perhaps we don�t love the gadgets per se, but that we love the feeling of being loved that their apparent attentiveness continually provides. Each ding or buzz indicates that someone is retweeting our tweets, sending us a note, or �liking� our status on Facebook. An iPhone doesn�t actually give us the love, but it transmits it…(Read more)

The contributors list is formidable–here are links to their individual essays, which also include images of their art work:

NOTE: The 2000 anthology published by Duke University Press is now available in Kindle and other e-book formats.

UPDATE (January 22, 2012): The 25th Anniversary Edition (2011) is now available on Kindle

Imageat top: The editors of M/E/A/N/I/N/G, Susan Bee and Mira Schor, 1991, photo: Sarah Wells (via Mira’s blog)


  1. Love the interdisciplinary aspect of art at work here!

  2. Love the interdisciplinary aspect of art at work here!

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