Still More Damn Metablogging
Just reading a New York Times article (linked to by Bill) that talks about how blogs are changing the design world because bloggers write from passion and editors and other trendspotters increasingly rely on them to suss out the new.* This hasn't happened in the art world, because galleries still don't know what blogs are. (Print magazines are figuring it out and thanks again to AinA.) One of the themes of the Rhizome "Blogging and the Arts" panel in Nov. at the New Museum was whether this thickheadedness on the part of art spaces was volitional. Most of the audience for that panel, I'd guess, came from the new media community, comprising folks making computer, internet, video, and multimedia art that is exciting and increasingly relevant as the world becomes more wired, but hard to commodify in the same way that galleries package and sell non-virtual artists.
Many in this cyber-community think the internet's openness and transparency threatens the gallery's traditional business of "creating the appearance of rarity or scarcity of objects in order to market them for high prices to an elite," as someone said that night. Yet at the same time the new media-ers ultimately want that gallery sanction--for the art world to say that what they do is not only art, but great art. My own response is there is no conspiracy, that the gallery world has certain habits of practice, which up till a few years ago included putting up shows, mailing out invitations, getting critics in, xeroxing the critics' clippings and mailing them to collectors, etc. but now includes dealing with the baffling and ever-changing world of websites and like it or not, blogs. Most overworked, underpaid gallery worker ants don't have the time, money, or energy to deal with this layer.
Having said all that, it's annoying that galleries don't acknowledge blog writing and still privilege King Print. I admit I only recently added blog references and hyperlinks to my personal resume, and it's going to be a pain to keep track of them as URLs change or heaven forbid disappear. But I think it's an important step. From the galleries' perspective, legitimation or verification of artists ought to be a two way street, or packet exchange or whatever: they rely on known critics to build the case for work, but they also endorse lesser-known critics by including them in their artists' clipping files. If an up-and-coming critic says something perceptive about a show that the mainstream media mavens missed, the gallery helps spread the word that that writer has a clue by listing their writing on the bio. Thus begins a cycle of mutual critical reinforcement, what the cynical might call a circle jerk, but nevertheless potentially scene-defining.
*The article goes on to talk about how manufacturers corrupt this process by giving bloggers freebies in exchange for plugs, but the art world isn't even to stage one of bloggers mattering yet.