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A woman in Europe named M_____ 0______ (name permission pending) is researching "artblogs" and sent these questions to artist & blogger T.Whid. He forwarded the list and my slightly edited response is below. All this stuff vomited out, probably, because it was so shocking to see this level of interest about something American galleries usually say "huh?" about:

• After having done research on the artblog phenomena for a couple of months now, I’m surprised to find that not many artists use this media. Personally I would find it an ideal space for artistic exhibition, exploration and exchange. Do you have an explanation to this?

• What made you start blogging?

• What keeps you blogging?

• Do you perceive your blog primarily as a personal or as a professional project?

• Does your blog affect your work process as an artist?

• Do you know of other artists blogging (besides M.River)?

• Do you know of artists reading your blog?

• Do you feel part of the blogosphere? I mean do you feel part of a community of (art)bloggers?

• Have you met any problems being a blogger?

Dear M_____ O______,

The non-responsiveness of the art world to blogging is a recurring theme with me. I write from New York but the syndrome is widespread. I attribute it to several factors:

(a) somewhat rapid change in tech--just as the galleries are getting all their fancy dot-com era Flash sites up and running, this thing called blogging comes along. Worse, some bloggers make fun of the Flash sites! Galleries and artists tend to rely more on tech experts to do their updating and even if they know about blogs, not everyone has (or should have) the personality for daily ranting.

(b) art galleries (and artists who produce for them) are still stuck in the era of steam trains and butter churns. In this world, it's all about print--hard copy reviews from recognized institutional authorities that can be sent to collectors and curators. Ethereal pixeled criticism is regarded as too impermanent and likely the work of lone cranks.

(c) institutions like the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council perpetuate the divisions between gallery art and new media art by requiring painters to send in slides for fellowships, residencies, etc., whereas a new media artist can just send a URL. This idea that a photo emulsion glimpsed through a Magic Lantern contraption on a metallic screen in a dark room is the "best" or "most accurate" way to judge physical work is très 19th Century. Once the medium of information exchange changes (to URLs, etc) then metacriticism linked or patched into those resources will seem more natural.

(d) the economic (collector/donor) base of the art world includes many tech-savvy people, who stare at computer screens all day for a living and by damn, when they want to relax they don't want more screen stuff, they want to immerse themselves in the healing balm of the "old ways"--viewing pigment-impregnated vegetable oil smeared on coarse cloth; standing in a clean quiet room having elevated discourse about exquisite, handmade objects; reading elegantly typeset reviews on solid paper stock with good offset printing (see (b) above). Dealers and artists tend to follow the collectors' preferences.

(e) as T.Whid mentioned [in his response to you], many artists are quite simply tech-phobic and/or uninclined to check in on a blog. Some are excited by the idea of jpegs of their work being viewable all over the world and the subject of ad hoc critical dialogue while their shows are still up; others don't give a hoot and would rather avoid the computer and wait 9 months for an Artforum review (possibly) to come out.

Tom Moody

PS There is an emerging community of art blogs out there that tends to draw its lines of subject matter narrowly, chewing over news of museums, auction sales, gallery gossip, old school art appreciation... I'm more interested in the crossover of visual art, tech, electronic music, film, science fiction, and politics than just replicating the art world online. I sometimes get linkage from the pure art sites when I do something "out there" like criticize the Whitney, or one of the major magazines, but rarely when I just talk about a show (in Williamsburg or wherever), and never when I stray outside their specialized field of interest. I'm happy for the traffic, of course, those are just some patterns I've noticed. I do read and link to some of those blogs. As for blogs causing me "problems," I was a print critic for years so I'm already screwed. Actually the blog has been quite helpful in clarifying that my art practice and thoughts about other artists are intertwined--it was a way voluntarily to take the institutional edge off my writing.

- tom moody 6-23-2004 9:46 pm [link]