do it yourself
Post #628 • September 20, 2005, 11:15 AM • 33 Comments
Via Artsjournal, Making Their Own Breaks: Technology is helping aspiring writers, musicians, artists and filmmakers go from amateur to pro; Who needs an agent when you've got the net?
Recently, I observed with some consternation that the museums have a track record of not playing ball with everyone. Recently, MOCA opened a show that provided some raw data regarding this sentiment. I haven't seen the show yet, but the PR lists 25 artists, and by my count, 11 of them hail from Snitzer Gallery. Kathleen came up with a useful coinage from one comment on her blog: SAAO, or Same Artists All Over. But of course, she said:
MAM and the Bass both have different artists in their collections, most of whom are not in the MOCA show. So the "SAAO" criticism falls through on the museum level. I've been thinking that the SAAO criticism is mainly a result of the small social circle of portions of the Miami art scene. I think it feels more SAAO than it is.
But go look at the Figuratively Speaking show up at MAM and look at which locals it includes: two Snitzer Gallery artists, and Edouard Duval-Carrié. (Although it wasn't a museum show, we found the same dynamic at work here.) I think it feels SAAO for the same reason that it feels wet when you lay in a bathtub. How did this happen? I think that Snitzer's prominence in the local art world derives from his enormous acumen as a gallerist. Really. His skills extend to the ability to influence, directly and indirectly, local museum curatorial programs and holdings, resulting in a perfect intersection of canny artmongering and public largesse. Snitzer is the Halliburton of the Miami art world.
But that's not what I wanted to talk about today. I want to talk about using technology to create networks around the official ones so that we don't have to base our success as creators on the tastes of a handful of people in entrenched and practically unassailable positions. The article linked above casually mentions that painters can produce their work relatively cheaply, especially compared to musicians. But distributing work costs us much more, to the extent that we are selling originals rather than reproductions. The new calculus indicates that musicians can have a career away from the big labels by producing downloadable tracks, selling them for not so much but keeping nearly all of the profit, and then making money by playing shows. Can we apply that model to visual art?
I think we can, with some caveats. One, we need a visual art version of Pitchfork, something that will get the word out about the good stuff regardless of where it comes from. I might consider devoting Artblog.net and/or Go See Art to such a function. I'd have a lot more fun doing that than chronicling the drear slog in the vast tracts of muck through which I wander in an attempt to find pearls.
Caveat two, the internet will favor art that reproduces well at 72dpi. Scale will become a non-issue. So might a lot of formal qualities. (This happens too in recorded music, by the way, but we've become used to it, and we accept that we can never own a live performance in the way we can own a work of art.) It would favor illustration, comics, very small scale work, high-quality reproductions, and prints of various media.
Will it enable major art? No. But it might help create a dual-tier market that would. If I had a following for my drawings and prints, it might drive a significant audience to a gallery when it came time for me to show my oil paintings. This could work for me because lately I've been getting back to my roots in illustration (I have a BFA in it from RISD). I would prefer that any kind of work could get on the boat, but I don't see how.