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massive links update and its implications

Post #382 • October 7, 2004, 8:21 AM • 21 Comments

I have made significant updates to the links page of Artblog.net. I intended to put up the utmost list of art blogging links, but more or less gave it up once I hit forty sites or so.

Yes, forty. Not all of them post with equal frequency - in fact, I grandfathered some of them in - but that may represent a 300% increase over last year.

Since I work in both old and new publishing media, I think about how the latter will affect the former. One can speculate on these things at nauseating length, and bloggers often do. I only want to make some brief points:

The newspaper I worked with most recently did its in-house edits on a proprietary line-editing system. It hashed out edits with authors over e-mail. Final versions of articles went to print and the website. None of these four data types behaved compatably, resulting in weird character insertions that the paper didn't always bother to remove by the time it served the article on the web.

If you know HTML, you'll recognize the code of just about any newspaper site as a cry for help. Find me a newspaper site that validates as XHTML 1.0 Strict. Okay, Transitional. Okay, find me one that validates as anything.

A similar 300% increase in the number of print-based art critics or art coverage has not occured at the newspapers.

My instincts and a few facts tell me that the newspapers will join the 21st Century (by keeping up with what seems like an explosion of interest in art, and instituting high web-based production standards) shortly after new media hands it its rear end on a platter. I don't think that newspapers will disappear anytime soon, but I do think that if they continue to putter along like they do, people will run out of reasons to read them except for the fact that you can't clip coupons out of your monitor. If I ran a newspaper, I would scramble to produce a rich, complementary, XHTML 1.1/CSS2 valid/508 compliant/RSS 2.0 & Atom enabled web presence, if only out of self-preservation.

Now, about all those sites: I will retool Artsfeed, which will aggregate them sensibly. In the meantime, happy clicking. Enjoy your poolside view of the future of arts writing.

Comment

1.

oldpro

October 7, 2004, 4:08 PM

I will take your word for it when it comes to all the techie stuff, agree with your take on the plight of newspaper art criticism & think now is time to jostle for position on the net, but I have a few questions about the content.


1. Why post literature & architecture blogs? If this is a burgeoning critical form the time to specialize is now, especially because you (wisely) want to limit your links.


2. Is that the cream of the crop of art blogs? If so, I would say the competition is not nearly what I would have expected. Many are very lightweight and self-indulgent and seem more interested in ego tripping than inviting comment and discussion the way you do. And some of the design is confusing and off-putting. Are there more out there that you have not worked through yet?


3. I can't say I like the stripey background much, but that is a minor matter.

2.

alesh

October 7, 2004, 4:28 PM

I tend to agree with oldpro.

I also think that we can learn a lot by looking at the relationship between traditional media and blogging in politics, where there seems to be a lot more, and more sophisticated, coverage on both ends. There are TONS of political blogs, and some of them attract massive readership. And while they do seem to be respected, acknowledged, and even referenced by the traditional media, i see no signs that they are, or will soon be, handing traditional media it's ass on a platter.

While "traditional/" media, which is to say major news outlets, may continue to move from print to the web, I do not think that the distinction between them and the independents (currently mostly bloggers) will dissolve.

Blogs tend to be of interest to specialists. The "general readership" (and note that that term applies to any one of us on almost any subject except art) does not have time to wade through bloggerdom, especially as the number of sites increase.

I have some favorite sites among your list, but none of them is comprehensive, accurate, interesting, and well written enough to replace local arts writing (which admittedly could use some improvement) or my subscription to Artforum (which, insanely enough, was slammed on this site recently).

3.

Dan

October 7, 2004, 5:34 PM

Have you seen this art blog aggregator?

4.

Fresh Paint

October 7, 2004, 5:44 PM

Explosion of interest in art?

Where?? Where???

Not in the Chicago area, lemme tell you. This is theoretically "Art Month" in Illinois, but you could have fooled me. No specials on tv, no pull-out pages in the paper, no PSAs, nothing. Granted, the state has no extra money to spend this year, but everyone seems to be ignoring it -- even artists. We've lost the New Art Examiner, Bridge Magazine is on its last legs, the "listings only" version of the Reader covers music, theater, film -- but not the visual arts. (they do a pretty good job in the regular Reader pages, tho). If Fred Camper didn't exist, we wouldn't have published reviews in newspapers about anything.

And we've lost the Art Chicago show at Navy Pier to something called "art and antiques", now managed by Pfingsten Publishing (who also manages one of your Miami shows). No one takes it seriously. The gallery people are very upset. I'm withholding being upset until after the election season, since I don't have any more emotion to spare.

End of rant.

5.

Dan

October 7, 2004, 6:10 PM

From a comment on this post on art.blogging.la bemoaning a lack of coverage in Artforum of anything outside of NYC: "I live just south of DC and I need to scour the internet to see what's happening in places I can't get to."

6.

Franklin

October 7, 2004, 6:11 PM

Oldpro: 1. I may aggregate the non-art blogs on their own site or subsection. Those litblog links get used. At 40 art sites, though, it's time to break things up.

2. Not really. (Answer to both questions.) Everybody has their own approaches and I like to look at them all at least periodically. Thank you for preferring this one.

3. I totally got over the stripey background.

Alesh: Have a look at this in regards to your comment. Keep in mind that arts journalism and criticism have no equivalent of CNN or even CBS. Slamming Artforum is insane? Artforum has it's moments. Everything else in the magazine has a note pinned to its back that says "slam me".

Dan: Yes. I don't like how it handles - it just feels wrong. Plus, what's with the color scheme? At least the stripey background has some pizzazz.

Fresh Paint: my condolences. Think there's any significance to the fact that Miami and Chicago both have two art bloggers each?

7.

Jack

October 7, 2004, 9:48 PM

Forget links, blogs vs. print and other arcane matters. Try to remain calm, but the Princess Diana Show is upon us, or soon will be, courtesy of the presumably straight-faced museum crew in Ft. Lauderdale. The show will no doubt do great business, which is fine, but it should have been held in some convention center or other. Embarrassing.

In other high-level news, Nina Arias has been fired from Rocket Projects (details in the latest Street). [Editor's note, 16 Mar 2008: Nina Arias was not fired from Rocket Projects. The complicated circumstances surrounding Arias's leaving Rocket Projects, described vaguely in an innuendo-laden article in the now-defunct Street Magazine, and RP's eventual foundering under the direction of Nick Cindric, are beyond the scope of this correction. Interested parties should contact Arias herself for the full story. - F.] The article is most interesting from a sociological standpoint, if nothing else, and Oldpro should definitely read it. I'd say more, but I can only process so much excitement at one time.

8.

Jerome du Bois

October 7, 2004, 10:11 PM

Franklin:

Glad we made the cut. You're ace with us.

Oh, look, more Jack talk:

Forget links, blogs vs. print and other arcane matters.

See what I mean about self-centered?

Sincerely,

Jerome du Bois
(I'll go away now.)

9.

Dan

October 7, 2004, 10:50 PM

(note: though I don't generally go in for the metablogging bit, I seem to have gotten a bit carried away here...)

As it relates to political news, the political blogosphere is largely reactionary (not necessarily in a pejorative sense), serving as a filter and a watchdog. This is a natural niche for the weblog format, but it does point up the dependence of the political blogs on the traditional media (something not mentioned by Sullivan in the linked article).

The question from our perspective is whether we have anything comparable in the art world. Though its priorities or foci may shift, political reporting by big media will persist as long as politics itself. It's bread and butter stuff. If the major media's current attitude towards art is any indication, however, I don't think we have any such guarantees on our end. In fact, in most places we have what amounts to a total vacuum. (Whether this reflects the public attitude or not is a whole other can of worms.) But while politics is tied to the news cycle, art is not. News as such is mostly secondary when it comes to cultural reporting. And whereas political weblogs depend on the media for the latest words from the President's press secretary or a recap of the latest rally in Punxsutawney, we art nerds can march down to the latest gallery opening or museum show and share our reflections. These are different beasts.

Perhaps comparisons to political bloggers' advocacy efforts (think of DailyKos as a advocacy and fundraising clearing house) have greater relevance here. In this case the bloggers are doing an impressive job of shifting the ground and providing new and easy points of access. These have often allowed even meager local campaigns access to sometimes national support without national media attention. This is where the decentralization (or, more appropriately, the recentralization) is taking place.

I think this could be instructive for the art world, offline as well as on. Chicago art's web presence, for example, is, on the whole, shit. Navigating one's way through the 'scene' in the first place takes some effort. Then many galleries (particularly the big-time outfits) neglect their web sites, often providing a paucity of information or images and just as often not updating in a timely manner. (Take as an example Zolla/Lieberman [who I only pick on because I've been keeping an eye out for an update lately], among the larger spaces in town, whose site still promises "preview images coming soon" for a huge group show that ends in 9 days--if you're even looking for just the artists' names, search elsewhere.) Yeah, and nevermind the often miserable interfaces.

Tyler Green has often harped on gallery website problems over at MAN, so I suspect this is not unique to our neck of the woods. And yet web exposure has got to be among the most affordable ways to establish a presence without the benefit of limited arts coverage (and full archives of past shows and represented artists has to be one of the most affordable services galleries can offer their artists). Quite simply, if you can afford to print up four-color show invites, you can most definitely afford a domain name, hosting and a decent design to boot. And if you can prepare hard copy price lists, bios, statements and press releases, you ought to be able to update that site to reflect your current show (it's essentially the same content). Of course, easy and affordable access to an audience has been the promise of the web for some time, but minor individual efforts mostly get lost in the diffuse mire without the benefit of incoming links. With weblogs, though, we see the opportunity to establish active, heavily cross-linked nodes (and not merely static web portals) that engage with this network and offer an easier path into this world.

If I sound too rosily utopian, forgive me. I don't think this is a magic bullet and it certainly doesn't address any number of other issues. For that matter, I'm not even beginning to address art bloggers as content providers, which I think is probably Franklin's prime concern here. For one thing, it should be said that advocacy as such will never alone suffice--this is not about building "community" for community's sake. Still, I think weblogs are able to fulfill a particular need where traditional media seem either incapable or uninterested.

10.

oldpro

October 7, 2004, 11:16 PM

Dan: that is quite an earful. Do you mean to say that Franklin's blog is or can be one of the best and that we should suggest ways for this to happen? If so, I agree.

Jerome: I seem to find myself defending Jack now and then. Jack makes no secret of being self-centered. He wants things to accomodate, interest or delight him, and he says so. He also says straight out what he does not like. I don't think this is a bad thing. I find it rather refreshing.

11.

oldpro

October 7, 2004, 11:20 PM

Jack: Didn't we have a Diana show a few years ago at the Lowe, Diana's gowns? And I will read the Rocket projects story, though I won't know why I should be interested until I read it

12.

eddie

October 7, 2004, 11:26 PM

WHAAAAAA? Nina Arias fired!? wait a sec............. WHAAAAAAAAAAA?

13.

Fresh Paint

October 7, 2004, 11:36 PM

Most gallery web sites are appalling. No, let me say, all of them are, here in Shitcago. Believe Dan, he knows. (tho would cut Zolla/Leiberman some slack because of Roberta's death this past spring).

I've found only a few interesting artist sites. EC Brown's list of Chicago artists leads to a few (you have to click on each thumbnail, something he neglects to tell you).

Most artists are supremely visual, not verbal, and so are not natural bloggers. Others put up a web site as part of a project they had to do in college and haven't updated it since then. Still others have a site because they sell their most commercial stuff on Ebay to make a buck (the noble art of painting potboilers, updated).

My blog is my blog, and what I put on it too. Right now mostly lefty politics -- and not just snarky comments on the news. I've been reporting what I see, whether it's at a rally for Barack Obama or Friday night openings at West Loop Gate or canvassing in Wisconsin. Sometimes I write about knitting or tech shit (I've done a lot of programming in my time). I was so happy when I found Dan's blog (Iconoduel) -- it meant I didn't have to put up all those links myself, and now I just go there if I want to go visiting. And now here!

We are all part of the Borg!

Living an inward life outwardly can be brutal, tho.

14.

eddie

October 7, 2004, 11:42 PM

Could somebody elaborate on this Nina Arias thing? I haven't been able to find anything online.

15.

Dan

October 8, 2004, 12:10 AM

Oldpro: I'm talking more generally and about weblogs' natural ability to connect and crosspolinate, though of course Franklin's is one of the best art blogs around. It's required daily reading for me, even when the focus is strictly on Miami.

Let me also add this re: the scourge of arts advocacy passing as arts coverage in the press and media... Another thing political weblogs show me is that even strong opinion can be advocacy. And even when a blogger disagrees strongly with something, chances are they'll link up to it.

16.

oldpro

October 8, 2004, 1:18 AM

I know, Dan. I was just using your very long post to plug tthe blog.

Can you tell me what is the precise difference between opinion and advocacy?

17.

that guy in the back row

October 8, 2004, 2:08 AM

Eddie, it may have come about when Nina championed an artifact which consisted of a chipmunk crammed inside an iron, with wires coming out of its arms. Why the collectors weren't rushing in to buy this object is beyond my comprehension.

18.

Dan

October 8, 2004, 3:11 AM

Oldpro: by advocacy I'm refering to acritical advocacy of the 'scene' in general, to the detriment of quality discourse--a variant of paternalism?

"Gotta support the team"

19.

Jack

October 8, 2004, 6:13 AM

Oldpro, the new and improved Princess Di extravaganza opens this weekend at the Museum of Art (?) in Ft. Lauderdale. The Street listing for it says it's a show "celebrating the life of Diana...[and] includes her wedding gown, family jewels, photos, and more." Cost: $19.50 a head.

Eddie, the Nina Arias story is in this week's Street, page 61. It's a hoot, unless you stop to think about what it says about the art scene in general and the Miami scene in particular--then it's not so funny.

20.

oldpro

October 8, 2004, 2:46 PM

Jack: the Diana show seems ghoulish enough to draw a crowd. I remember the "Diana's Gowns" show at the Lowe some years ago because I was there for another opening, and people were compulsively and guiltily sneaking away from the other exhibit to look at the theatrically displayed finery like boys looking at dirty pictures.

I read the piece in Street about Nina Arias, and I still don't know why it should interest me. It reads like one of the daily accounts of low-level political squabbling in the Herald. I never had any interest in Rocket Projects in the first place.

21.

Jack

October 8, 2004, 5:23 PM

Oldpro, my problem with the Diana stuff is not that many people run after it and pay for it; that's inevitable. The problem is that an art museum is in on the game. Obviously there's money involved, but if an art museum wants Diana-type ticket sales, it's in the wrong business. It's pandering.

I expect that for the Nina Arias story to make "sense" you'd need to be more familiar with both her and Rocket Projects, as well as the whole Design District-Wynwood scene. The gallery has been largely a social club for kids playing the art game. The taxidermy show, which I only saw as I drove by, the way I'd look at roadkill, may have been the last straw. The money guy in the outfit probably got tired of paying for parties at a space nobody took seriously. It drew big crowds, but the demographics were not productive--the pronounced youth angle and party dynamics probably put off and kept away the "right" people, i.e. the ones with hefty art budgets. No doubt we'll see considerably more "seriousness" there henceforth; whether we'll see considerably better art is another question.

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