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Fuck the Dark Net: Here’s the Soft Net

Sean J Patrick Carney calls out the softest net artists in the game.

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Everybody knows and loves the fake Ghostface Killah blog where the author annually lists the "Top Ten Softest Rappers in the Game." While the rap game is certainly tough, it pales in comparison to the dark underbelly of the internet art community. When net artists leave the safety of the web, they get drunk, take copious amounts of drugs, get into fights, and fuck each others' girlfriends and boyfriends like it's a Bret Easton Ellis novel. So, to pay tribute to whoever writes that brilliant Ghostface blog, and to illuminate some of the politics of the net art world to the general public (who likes paintings and/or ceramics), I present to you:


Top Ten Softest Net Artists in the Game 

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10. Jogging

The Jogging's Tumblr is like some indoor kid's delusional projection fantasy about what sports probably feel like. Besides that, it's filled with images of zebras wearing pizzas, Crocs, houseplants, and mirrors. Even its name is like the softest exercise that somebody can do besides a 3K Fun Run/Walk. The people who run it have names that look like the guest list for a screening of The Graduate on Tommy Fucking Hilfiger's yacht: Artie and Brad and Haley and Jesse and Joshua and Lauren and Norm and Rachel and Spencer.

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09. Brenna Murphy

Murphy's also in this batshit crazy noise project called MSHR with Birch Cooper, and that shit isn't soft at all, which is why she's only at #9. Her weird three-dimensional digital collages and shit are totally psychedelic, but they still feel like a book of my aunt's wallpaper samples fed through a seapunk filter that I'm checking out while trying to get laid in Second Life. I do like to look at her work because it makes me feel like I'm on drugs, but it's like I'm on drugs that make me soft (weed, psychedelics) not drugs that make me hard (coke, Beezin').

Image via Andrew Birk's Facebook account 

08. Andrew Birk + Debora Delmar Corp 

I don't even think these two motherfuckers count as net artists because Birk paints and Delmar is a corporation, but it's like I look at Facebook for about two seconds and suddenly I'm the third in their relationship. Do they live in Mexico City? Paris? Brussels? Nobody fucking knows because it's just an unending slideshow of travel pics which are 100% the softest kind of pics that exist. The hardest pics are obviously selfies, doge, and that stoner alpaca.


Image via Opening Ceremony 

07. Jeanette Hayes

If there's anything softer than Anime, it's art history. In Hayes' work, these two ostensibly disparate worlds collide and it's even less brutal than that Powerman 5000 song (I'm saying that they're not a very tough heavy metal band). Don't get me wrong, I like Jeanette Hayes personally. But if I were in a burning building on the tenth floor and had to leap out of the window, I'd pray to the heavens that there was a pile of her paintings to land on in the street below (I'm saying that her paintings are soft and I'd be safer if I landed on them).

06. Taj Bourgeois 

I don't know if people on the east coast know what a Safeway is, but it's essentially like a Kroger or a Key Foods but just whiter in general. Bourgeois makes 99% of his work just strutting around a Safeway crafting little piles of pudding cups and vegetables and then posting images to Tumblr (note: especially to Jogging). Plus, Taj Bourgeois? Is there literally a softer name than that? The closest I can think of is Bunny Rogers, but she doesn't make the list because her stuff is so soft that it is actually hard as fuck.

Image via @michelwalpot on Twitter 

05. Rafael Rozendaal 

Have you ever been online? Yeah, me too. You're online right now, on a website. Is the VICE website itself very "hard"? Well, it does talk a lot about drugs and war and other abject shit. Rozendaal makes websites as part of his art practice; he probably even calls them objects. But a real object is immalleable, brutally strong, and epically tactile. Pure, raw. How the fuck am I supposed to treat seriously a website that looks like the Reading Rainbow intro but Levar Burton is played by the video game Pong? These colors are juicy as hell, and while that's how I take my Skittles, I'm not about to fuck with it while I'm looking at art.


Image via Purple Fashion Magazine

04. Jon Rafman


Image via The Creators Project

03. Petra Cortright 

Cortright makes some truly fascinating YouTube videos, is a darling of the Los Angeles contemporary scene, and is favored by notorious art-flipper Stefan Simchowitz. These all make her a powerhouse, but her recent avalanche of tweets about the World Cup obliterated her tough edges and then some. Soccer is the softest sport, second only to snowboarding, and despite what a slew of drunken East Village bros would have you believe once every four years, we Americans hate soccer's guts. It didn't help that she used nearly every emoji humanly possible during her live tweets. She'd be at #2, except that she said "FUCK" a whole lot, which isn't very soft at all.

Photo via Animal New York 

02. Ryder Ripps

Fuck outta here. How are you gonna be born with a hard ass name like Ryder Ripps and then have Nicola Formichetti from Diesel's first impression of you be: "He turned up wearing like, almost hot pants - a crazy outfit with a mohawk." He works with Ryan Trecartin, the #6 Softest Video Artist in the Game, and one time he lived at Red Bull or something but I heard a rumor he only drank the sugar-free ones. I think he modeled for Puff Daddy, too. Also: duckface.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

01. Drake

Just kidding, it's DIS magazine.

So, there you have it: the definitive list of the Top Ten Softest Net Artists in the Game. Some of you are probably actually pissed that you didn't make the list. If that's the case, I suggest that you try to have a little more fun with your 3D printing and Google Sketchup "installations" or whatever the fuck it is that you do. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ XOXOXO

Sean J Patrick Carney is a concrete comedian, visual artist, and writer based in Brooklyn. He is the founder and director of Social Malpractice Publishing and, since 2012, has been a member of GWC Investigators, a collaborative paranormal research team. Carney has taught at Pacific Northwest College of Art, the Virginia Commonwealth University, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, and New York University. Follow him on Twitter, here.