Post #1000 • May 7, 2007, 2:06 PM • 10 Comments
Not only has Artblog.net just hit 1000 posts, it also celebrated its fourth birthday on May 5. Landmarks like these serve as good opportunities for reflection on the site as a whole.
Which, upon reflection, I need to cut down on. I just skimmed through 800 posts, and the forehead-wrinkling makes for poor reading after a while. Outbursts of frustration, however sincere and amusingly expressed, also age badly, as does fretting about the site design and commenting problems. The long think pieces hold up better, but in retrospect many of them look rather like growing up intellectually in public, the acts of a writer finding his position by attacking his opposition. Nothing wrong with that except that they break first rule of wrestling: don't lean on your opponent. I feel increasingly secure in my stance as time goes on, and ever more inclined to let the misled live their misled lives.
The art reviews have aged the best, followed by the photographic reportage, going around and snapping photos of things that grab me. This latter observation bothers me a bit because I tired of attending openings with a camera pressed to my face, but looking back on them, they memorialized the events in a manner that flatters both the time and the blogging medium. The couple of interviews I did come off as substantial efforts. The publications stay remarkably fresh. Looking over this list, I see that the things that take the most effort, gathering primary source material and reviewing images, have the longest shelf life.
Of course, the Internet being what it is, shelf life hasn't been a huge priority historically. Back in 2003 blogging seemed like a good thing for a largely unpublished art writer to get in on. It defined itself opposite what we used to call the mainstream media by speaking impolitely in the first person, and because readers generally expected bloggers to talk about what they had for lunch with no thought of the morrow, there was an easy standard to exceed. Now most of the so-called MSM outlets feature blogs. It no longer makes sense to distinguish print critics and digital critics. Neither does it make sense to sell the medium short in terms of what it can accomplish, of which I think we've barely scratched the surface.
I looked back at the old posts to see if I could detect any changes in the author over time. I didn't see as many as I thought I would. That guy who starts more projects than he finishes, instigates more arguments than he needs to, and pecks at any glinting topic like a crow, he saunters ever on. Lovely women passed through his life, as recorded by varyingly veiled references here and there. One of them stayed, to his gratitude. He left one job and acquired another. Otherwise, there he is, as recognizable then as now.
I did figure out, though, that the blog needed more pictures of art, and I put them there in greater numbers, and started to present multiple close-ups of individual pictures as well. That last effort has been worth making. More about the art, less about the art world has been a good policy, however waveringly I follow it. I thought about putting up a sign on the blog akin to the one they have at construction sites and factories:
This site has gone [_] days without talking about the art world.
As for the future of Artblog.net, I've learned not to comment on it. It's still too early to try to make it self-sufficient, not that I did enough to accomplish that. (I think too much, don't act enough, and I spend too much time on the Internet.) Not long ago I said that I was going to stop writing criticism, and I did no such thing; one reader said that some of my best criticism followed immediately afterwards. So nuts to that. But with the proliferation of art blogs, there is room for specialization, and in hindsight I think I'm at my best, and my happiest, when writing about actual art, at least as far as this site is concerned.
So Artblog.net will persist, I predict that much. I predict more pictures. I predict another thousand posts if fate will have it. And you will have my heartfelt gratitude for your readership and participation, just as you've had all along.