Although making photographs is a central part of David Horvitz’s work—whether made by him or by others whom he prompts—they are the opposite of refined art objects. Rather, the pictures are like postcards, exchanges between him and his audience, souvenirs of his interventions in the world, of getting his audience to think like conceptual or performance artists, and play. He wants people to pay attention to their environment differently—a virtual land artist of the interactive age—and he leaves barely a trace behind. His enquiry into the nature of photography reminds me of Duane Michals and Keith Arnatt.
David Horvitz’s nomadic personality shifts seamlessly between the Internet and the printed page, avoiding any particular definition or medium. Recurring interests across these disciplines include attention to strategies of information circulation and the impermanence of digital artifacts. Horvitz frequently encourages participation from both his friends and a web-based audience for his projects. He channels the spirit of conceptual artists while reaching out to a community through digital communication technologies. Many of his projects are infused with generosity and free distribution. For Public Access, a recent project, he traveled the entire California coast from the Mexican to the Oregon border. Along his road-trip, he made photographs of various views of the Pacific Ocean with his body (sometimes inconspicuously) standing within the frame. These photographs were then uploaded to the Internet to illustrate the location’s Wikipedia listing. A photograph of Horvitz standing at the Mexican-American border, with the wooden border going out into the ocean, was uploaded to the article for Border Field State Park. With the intent to openly distribute the images within the new public spaces opened up by the Internet, the photographs caused a small controversy within the community of Wikipedia editors. After lengthy debates emerged, the images were either edited (with Horvitz removed from his own photographs) or deleted entirely. A PDF was made that includes documentation of the entire project and the process of the images’ removal. For From the Southern-most Inhabited Island of Japan (Hateruma Public Domain), which was currently on view at the New Museum, Horvitz generated a string of ‘travelling’ images that was an online metaphorical representation of a journey to South Japan where he had travelled a few years earlier. Like many of Horvitz’s projects, the work took on various forms: text, photography, found imagery, newsprint take-aways, and a book.