LOS ANGELES — It’s just been the first two days at the College Art Association conference, and people are talking tech. Or maybe I’m just attending the tech-oriented panels. The first panel I sat on spoke on internationalizing the practice of art history. Immediately, it felt like the voice of God was speaking, until I realized it was a man on Skype. Not one, but two participants were joining in from online.
The broader sharing of art historical information is “like a resurfacing of public life,” noted panelist Sabih Ahmad, who researches Indian art for the Asia Art Archive. “A lot of documents once had a public life,” such as in homes and institutions, before they were archived. He and other attendees discussed how digital technology can help bring a more global conversation to art and overcome what many identified as a “culture of secrecy” when it comes to art archival work.
As if to prove his point, Ahmad joined via Skype, as have many other speakers in different panels. It was surprisingly effective. I participated in a panel organized by Two Coats of Paint blogger Sharon Butler and LA Art Girls collective member Micol Hebron focused on artist collectives and collaboratives. While most of our fellow participants were from Los Angeles, Nicole Cohen from the Berlin Collective and Abbey Dubin from Our Literal Speed joined in via Skype (I’ll be blogging more about that conversaiton later).
Bringing in New Audiences via Tech
The CAA Twitter feed has been looking at how we can use new technologies to bring in new audiences and participants. The @collegeart Twitter handle been active in retweeting interesting posts and engaging in dialogue with its 6,000+ followers. Unfortunately, amongst participants, the #CAA2012 hashtag has been sparsely used. Wifi was spotty early in the event, but there are likely other issues.
I hope they do implement live feeds. The dialogues being had here are relevant for a far broader audience, not all of whom are able to attend. Whether the feeds are free or have a nominal fee to support the conference, a feed could ensure more voices are heard. They could even take a move from the TED conferences and offer the live feeds at a special rate (art bloggers exempted, of course) but offer podcasts for free afterward. That would make the hashtag even more lively and help the Skype conference calls not be as awkward.