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A Visit with Kenneth Goldsmith


Kenneth Goldsmith wrote one of the best Andy Warhol books, I’ll Be Your Mirror—which in a title, summarizes exactly what Warhol did: hold a mirror up to society! But his largest achievement resides in his (so-far) free website, (aka UbuWeb) which offers thousands of hours of future experience for anyone interested in “avant-garde” art of the past century or more. For example, there are more than 2,500 full-length avant-garde films and videos!


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Kenneth Goldsmith is a post-computer Renaissance man for our time. With a magisterial encyclopedic overview, he researched and located rare, out-of-print visual-and-text documentation, ephemera, video, et al in danger of being totally forgotten. Without the profit motive, starting in 1996 he began posting what he selected on a FREE website,

What he curated is available to all without a gatekeeper. This project has somehow been done with NO MONEY and has lasted at least fifteen years to date. One never knows when it may be taken down for lack of bandwidth or any number of dire future possibilities, so check it out while you still can!

Run by an all-volunteer staff (Kenneth being the principal “employee”) and zero budget, UbuWeb has “become the unlikely definitive source for all things avant-garde on the Internet”. Nothing is for sale.

The site is filled with “the detritus and ephemera of great artists—the music of Jean Dubuffet, the poetry of Dan Graham, Julian Schnabel’s country music, the punk rock of Martin Kippenberger, the diaries of John Lennon, the rants of Karen Finley, and pop songs by Joseph Beuys—all of which was originally put out in tiny editions and vanished quickly…

“With video, sound and text,” UbuWeb presents a mind-boggling spectrum of inspirational obscura. Did you know that Salvador Dali made a video hommage to Raymond Roussel (one of my favorite visionaries) in the mid-70s? You can also find a 1987 recording of an advertisement he made for a bank! (No wonder he was expelled from the Surrealist movement by Andre Breton!)

You could spend your entire life browsing and experiencing what Kenneth Goldsmith curated on UbuWeb. Like readings by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Samuel Beckett radio plays, the writings of Maurice Blanchot, the music of Meredith Monk, John Cage reading texts (sometimes with orchestra).

“Poetry, music, film, and literature from all periods encounter and bounce off of each other in unexpected ways…. Everything from Slim Gaillard to Inuit throat singing, Dada, sound and concrete poetry, and over 2500 full-length avant-garde films and videos” can be experienced.

Do you see why RE/Search interviewed Kenneth Goldsmith?!? BTW, he teaches at U.Penn.

—V. Vale, RE/Search sole-proprietor founder