Saturday I went to look at a couple of shows before attending Ross Knight's opening at Team Gallery. Once again I'm made aware how provincial and behind the times the art world is in terms of technology, specifically weblogging.

I asked the desk attendant at Henry Urbach Architecture if the gallery had a website and if I could right-click, or otherwise save, an image of Marsha Cottrell's off of it. (Marsha's been promising me jpegs for eons.) He said yes, the gallery had a website, but he didn't know if images were save-able. I said, "Well, if I could save an image to my hard drive, I could pop it up on my page with a short review, within a day. Instant art criticism. Fantastic, right?"

I googled the gallery and couldn't find it, so I fished the printed invite out of my backpack, entered the URL, and got one of those Flash sites with slowly materializing letters. Uggh. It has an automatic, can't-stop-it-once-it-starts slide show of some pics from the show, but if there's a way to cap those, other than cropping a blurry screen shot, I don't know of it. You can't save by right-clicking. So much for the instant review. I'd post the link to the gallery here, but the site disables the "back" button, so you'd be trapped in Flash land. Macromedia is a menace.

As I made my rounds, people asked me what I was up to and I said, "makin' art, and workin' on my weblog, which is a way for me to be a critic without really bein' a critic, ha ha." More puzzled looks. "You know, weblogs? Started in the geek world, but now writers, political commentators, ordinary Janes and Joes have them? Becoming a potent political force? Brought down Trent Lott? Major social trend?" Puzzled looks, sometimes impatient looks, like, why are you telling me this crap?

A friend of mine who read my earlier post on this subject asked, "Yeah, what's up with that? How come more people in the art world don't have weblogs?" She didn't find my arguments--the art world worships print, etc--all that persuasive, and wanted to know the real reason. Why has no young critic used a weblog to put forward theories that rock the lazy status quo? I'm afraid it's because such people do not exist in the art world anymore. Everyone reads the Friday Times and Artforum recap-preview-recap-preview-recap-preview-recap-preview-recap-preview-recap-preview (etc) and that's art criticism, folks. There are no theoreticians except artists themselves, and they don't necessarily have the time or inclination to keep updating a weblog.

- tom moody 1-14-2003 8:29 pm

I know the "what's a weblog?" reaction. I got it while talking to someone, who shall remain nameless, who edits a NYC Theatre web site. I was shocked.
- barry (guest) 1-14-2003 8:54 pm

I can understand not wanting to read them, because not all of a blogger's interests might coincide with mine, but they've gotten so much publicity you'd think the meme would be out there more. Salon has "Salon Blogs," for example. Slate gave up on their dumb "Me-zines" but the concept's been in place for a couple of years now.

If it's a person you're interested in, the journal can be like a direct pipeline into their psyche. I've learned a lot about William Gibson since he started his weblog a couple of weeks ago. His self-penned bio is fascinating, and today he says he never found Philip K. Dick all that interesting, and prefers Hammett to Chandler. Wow!
- tom moody 1-14-2003 9:28 pm

Yeah, but we'll probably look back on this time as the "good old days" before absolutely everybody had their own weblog and the whole thing went to shit. You should take some pleasure in people not knowing what you're talking about. When it finally catches up with them they'll have to think "damn, Tom (or Barry) was telling me about this stuff, like, back in 2002!"
- jim 1-14-2003 9:38 pm

i think you are assuming that most people spend a lot of time online, which i don't think is true. i think, and this is total speculation, online activity for most people is checking email, instant messaging, shopping, checking movie listings, maybe doing some research when necessary and visiting porn sites. i'm sure i could find some numbers somewhere, but i have to get back to work. blogging may be big, but mainly to bloggers.
- linda 1-14-2003 9:47 pm

Depends on the age group. People over 30 for the most part don't get it. Livejournals and the like are exploding in the 15-25 demographic--they don't call it blogging though. "Online diaries" is more the norm.

I can't believe how stodgy some of my peers are about this phenomenon (the few who've heard of it). "People baring their lives in online journals--I just think that's wrong!" I've actually heard that.
- tom moody 1-14-2003 9:56 pm

Here's the stats page for deadjournal, a kind of Addams Family version of Livejournal. That's roughly 350,000 people who at least started a journal. Age range 13-34. 75% female. These are the shock troops of the blogging revolution.
- tom moody 1-14-2003 10:14 pm

maybe people consider writing online to be a waste of time. if they aren't getting any money for it, why bother?

i know a lot of artists are afraid to post their artwork online for fear of being ripped off. i bet a lot of artists have been ripped off, because it's easy to do. if you don't have a copywright on something, be careful who sees it! i really should be too, but hardly no one goes to my page. you really don't want to post a full-size image of anything for the public to soil.

for that self-portrait illustrator assignment i did, my teacher had us copy the style of nancy stahl. he told us she used to have full images on her site, but now they're only cropped portions. i don't blame her for doing that.
- pamela 1-14-2003 10:18 pm

That's definitely a concern for a professional illustrator, especially designing for the web. You would have to be careful not to post full-res images if you planned to sell them. But for most of my work, like an installation shot of molecules and product boxes, it's not going to get ripped off; if it is, it's totally traceable to me. For art criticism purposes, I'm mainly interested in details and low-res images.
- tom moody 1-14-2003 10:29 pm

On the other hand, by far the most likely fate for any artist is complete obscurity. I would think being stolen from would be slightly better than not ever being noticed. In light of that, why would anyone want to limit access to their work?
- jim 1-14-2003 10:33 pm

A good example. I found a guy who would render your "ride" in MSPaint. He had a great picture of a Camaro I wanted to post. I right-clicked and got a pop up saying "the artist has locked this image." That is so stupid. If he's selling the work, he's selling a print, or a 1/2 megabyte file that's printable. No one's going to print his silly jpeg for resale! He's just cutting off potential publicity by doing that.
- tom moody 1-14-2003 10:39 pm

that is stupid, but i think original drawings and logos would be stolen. even if the images weren't sold, if they were put on someone else's page who claimed it was theirs, i would have a problem. i wouldn't be flattered. i would like most of my work to be seen by employers only, in a portfolio. the graphic design teachers have been pushing hands-on projects more than computer-aided ones, which i think helps because i have sketches and drawings along with a final print to show it's mine. but yeah, that's different than your installation art, tom.
- pamela 1-14-2003 11:22 pm

my new teacher referred to the internet as an "information resource" today. maybe that's what artists think, that it's not used so much for entertainment. that's almost all i use it for, but that's me. i'm not very professional.
- pamela 1-15-2003 2:14 am

Mac has a screen shot feature which allows you to "take a picture" of all or any part of your screen, making SimpleTtext picture files. Importable to photoshop, illustrator, fireworks, quark etc. Easy to jpeg. Very handy for "non-save-able" images ;-)
Maybe windows has a similar feature?

- steve 1-18-2003 2:19 pm

I downloaded a screen shot utility called 5-Clicks but the thirty day free trial expired so it's just a useless icon on my desktop at the moment. I guess all I'm saying here is, galleries, who are in the business of getting the word out about their artists, ought to have low-res images 1-click accessible for the occasional "impulse review."
- tom moody 1-20-2003 9:22 pm