Once upon a time, Brad Troemel was an acclaimed young Chicago photographer who maintained a personal website full of clever and visually striking images organized in the typical portfolio way. He also ran an incomparably shrewd and culturally attuned blog on the side, full of funny and sad musings on art, sharp interviews with his heroes and contemporaries, and best of all, grotesquely marvelous found photos and video culled from depressing MySpace pages and party-photo sites for all ages Miami night clubs. Both of those sites are now gone.
Troemel’s new home on the information superhighway is an collective Tumblr page called Jogging. It’s not completely clear who else is the group, and that seems to be how Troemel likes it. Rather than producing artwork in the format of tidy projects to be archived on individual artists’ static websites, Jogging’s ephemeral and anonymous format enables Troemel and his conspirator(s) to create an endless stream of new material updated regularly– freeing them from consciously curating their own work. It also allows the artists to explore different mediums without forcing them to adhere to specific labels. For instance, a photogaph of a banana resting precariously on a rusty nail can be an “installation,” while an image of a potato suspended from a wall by a band-aid can be a “sculpture.” There’s a tounge-in-cheek commentary on the conceits and expectations of contemporary art running throughout the work on Jogging, and it’s that sense of humor that allows Troemel to transcend the formal seriousness the blog’s artwork seem to be founded upon.
In spite of Troemel’s somewhat convoluted concept (see: the only statement of any kind on the site, an erudite interview with Troemel conducted by fellow Vice magazine shooter Maciek Pozoga), the work itself is indelibly fun. Who doesn’t like to see the unsettling texture of Gogurt out of its ordinary context? Who isn’t curious to read a full-length spec script for a brand new episode of Friends? I especially like the solemnly methodical video pieces on Jogging, like the conspicuously unreal eleven-second wonder A Renewed Interest in Craft: I Make a Basketball Shot, and Fountain, Rain, Sprinkler, in which we are treated to 41 seconds of a fountain and a sprinkler wasting gallons of water on an anonymous vast and well-manicured lawn during a rainstorm. Check out Untitled, a brief yet endearing video of a “performance” Troemel enacts on a slow day at the mall.