Sunday, February 26, 2006

Whatever, But Not Nevermind.

There's been much discussion in artblogland over the last couple weeks about the importance and influence of blogs in the art world. Whatever. As far as I'm concerned, we're way past that conversation.

The influence is already there. It's just a matter of who is willing to exploit it. In the October 2005 issue of Art + Auction Sarah Douglas' disussed the issue of the increasing influence of art blogs in her "Dear Diary" column. Also, I've been receiving unsolicited (but very much welcome) invitations to private views and openings at A-list galleries. In other words, the money seems to be paying attention.

On the Smithsonian American Art Museum's blog, Eye Level, Kriston Capps noted that "Ultimately, I think artists will answer this question [re: the importance of blogs] by including (or not) hyperlinks in their resumes." To a certain extent I think she's right, but a variation of this is already happening. I've seen printouts of my own posts and those of other bloggers included in artist books at the front desks of many Chelsea and Williamsburg galleries.

Capps statement was in response to something that NYTimes critic Roberta Smith said when asked about blogs at a recent talk in DC. Capp reports, "But mark [Smith] up as a blog skeptic. She likened blogs to 'phone conversations,' as something 'stuck in the ether.'" I actually think that that's a pretty astute observation of what happens out here. However, I fail to see any negatives in either of Smith's classifications of the blogosphere.

Smith is correct in a narrow way in regard to blogs being like phone conversations. Being housed in a wire doesn't mean that phone conversations can't be really lively and smart, and the accessibility of blogs expands the possibility of how many people might be sharing that wire. The recent brouhaha about Charlie Finch is a good example of a conversation that would have been limited to party talk between a limited number of people a couple years ago. The other week that same discussion took place in front of thousands of people. And thanks to archives it's still out there, you know, in the ether.

Which, by the way, isn't a bad place to be stuck. There are a number of original voices stuck in the ether, and I've come to rely on them for insight, exhibition tips, and gossip. I'm still reading the Times, Modern Painters, October, Art Forum, Art + Auction, and I'm still visiting mainstream art websites. However, I'm also interested in what the artists have to say about their own art and others. I like hearing what goes on in the minds of collectors and gallerists. And I'm interested in hearing what other enthusiasts like me have to say about what they're seeing. These are voices that I might have only heard at a party or an opening before. In the end, art blogs provide me with more opportunities to get closer to the work. And that's all I really want. A blog's lack of permanence or official status is irrelevant to me. And increasingly, it seems as though it's irrelevant to a number of galleries and institutions.

Speaking of which, I'll be attending the press preview for the Whitney Biennial on Tuesday afternoon. Look for the pictures that night.

PS: For a quick lesson in how this has played out in other areas of the blogosphere check out Krixfort's brief history lesson.

PPS: Krixy digs deeper.


Mountain Man said...

Wow, HAA! This is really well written and well thought out - fun to read. Dig in with that art writing!

I love painting said...

Wat to go, HAA. Very good stuff. I much prefer your blog than anything in Artforum.

Krixfort said...

HAA, well put and well written!

I would much rather listen to the conversations of artists about their art and then augment that with more "formal" writings. To me, the comments that come from the artists themselves possess more authenticity than a widely published art critic. I'm not saying that the art critic doesn't know what he or she is talking about. It's just that aside from more formal cosiderations about things like technique, composition, etc. interpretation of art is so subjective.

The great thing about ether conversation is exactly what you pointed out in your post. The conversations now taking place across the ether can expand past the boundaries of an opening night party, and past the existing insular art communities scattered about the country. To me that is the best possible outcome/effect of blogging.

PS thanks again for the link. There are many others who have spoken better and more frequently about the tension between blogs and media. I will try to post some links on my site.

P. F.-C. said...

"If you leave, don't look back;
please don't take my heart away"

Nice post.

"In other words, the money seems to be paying attention."

Or rather the people helping artists eat, dress and rest seem to care about getting more information; finding more artists/galleries to love.

This trend will never be a bad one.

Heart As Arena said...

Y'all too sweet. And yeah, we're right.

And Krixy. Nice new post. I'll add.

fairy butler said...

well said HAA. I also want to add that unlike a conversation at a party or an opening this is more accessible and archived for anyone to read anytime. Art blogging is great for those with some down time at the ole office. feel like i'm getting a little something more out of my days of drudgery here. know what i'm saying?

Painter said...

I still am new to this blog world so thanks for this. I haven't really had this conversation.

mountain man said...

I think it's great for even those without the downtime, FB. It makes it easier to talk about art in real time after you've typed away trying to formulate opinions and descriptions quickly. Plus I feel that I have met some amazing people through the blogs.