This brief essay will focus on something that I think is important to Tumblr — the need to negotiate with media already in circulation. It is a desire that has been expressed variously throughout the 20th century by other artists and writers who negotiated, or thought about how to negotiate, with a world overflowing with images. Already in the 1980s you have media theorist Vilém Flusser describing a “telematic society of image producers and image collectors.” Before that Susan Sontag had already discussed how just about everything had already been photographed. Today, Hito Steyerl emphasizes that “postproduction has come to take over production wholesale.”
For centuries, images were a fairly quantifiable, classifiable thing. One could, if one wanted, generally divide them into two categories: those made by artists and those not; artworks and everything else. There were always complications, of course — where did photojournalism fall, or works made by bad artists, or family photos — but the lines were pretty distinctly drawn: no matter the content or method, art images were those created by artists toiling away in studios or monasteries or workshops; they were shown in galleries and museums and sometimes books, framed very clearly as capital-A Art. Plenty of artists have worked to undermine or discredit this system, like Richard Prince, who upset a lot of people when he started rephotographing Marlboro ads in 1980. Theoretically, the question with Prince went: was this art or copied advertising? The work, however, was shown in specifically designated art spaces, with Prince’s name clearly attached to it. It was undoubtedly art, even if people at first didn’t agree on its qualifications.
Two of the biggest art museums in California may soon become one. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has made a proposal to acquire the Museum of Contemporary Art, a smaller institution that has lately been unstable with mounting budget problems and controversy over Jeffrey Deitch’s tenure as director.
One of the unique things about the internet is that it’s a quantifiable space. Every action that takes place online is basically an exchange of data, codified in ones and zeroes. Everything you do on the web is increasingly measurable and trackable, which is one of the reasons we’ve come to live in the age of what is being called “Big Data.” With metrics being such a pervasive part of internet culture, the net has developed its own unique value system, which tends to favor and reward two things: the size of your audience (number of eyeballs) and that audience’s level of engagement (how deeply people interact with your content).
Damien Hirst’s Spot and Spin series of paintings might look like endless repetitions of the same thing, but, unfortunately for one Miami pastor, it’s still possible to tell a real from a fake. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has indicted Kevin Sutherland on charges of attempted grand larceny for claiming that his “limited edition” Damien Hirst artworks and prints were real when they were decidedly not.
The private homes of mid-century creators are vanishing. As most architects, designers, and artists who worked in the modern design movements of the 1950s and ’60s are reaching their twilight years or have already passed on, the houses in which they explored their personal visions are often broken up and disappear.
Launched last month by EatSleepDraw, a lively online art gallery of user-submitted content, ArtSnacks is a new subscription delivery service of five curated art products for artists to sample each month, delivered in a special, hand-wrapped package that’s sure to inspire bursts of creativity.
KOCHI, India — Pepper House is a quaint colonial structure with a lush central courtyard on the Kochi seafront, and serves as a major Biennale venue with some extraordinary displays — Alex Mathew’s monumental anchor rising upward in a surreal bid to touch the sky overhead greets you as you walk in. Named after the once-thriving spice port of Kochi (Kerala, India) the Kochi-Muziris Biennale succeeds in part because of the organizing committee’s courageous curatorial strategy to allow artists the rare final say in the installation of their work. Also, despite bringing together an international array of art-makers, the biennale’s focus is unequivocally on the Indian, initiating a restructuring of the paradigm of the “contemporary” in the country’s national art.