Art Fag City at The L Magazine: Artforum’s New Media Uproar

by Will Brand on September 7, 2012 · 2 comments The L Magazine

This week at The L Magazine, I go to bat for Claire Bishop’s much-maligned Artforum essay,”Digital Divide”. Did she forget about the existence of every net artist? Did she not notice she’d written a sentence specifically excluding the art she was looking for? No. You just can’t read good.

Artforum’s actual readership—mainstream gallerists, parents of art students who never changed their mailing address, and coffee table owners—has pretty much been silent. They’re not a crowd, by nature, that sets itself to long internet arguments about the state of art today. But we shouldn’t forget that they are who Bishop was writing for: a great analog horde who can hear the digital apocalypse coming but don’t know which way to run. Rather than reading Bishop’s article as ignorant navel-gazing from art’s ruling class, we should read it for what it is: a proposal for change, the beginnings of a pivot, and a way for mainstream art to claim it’s moving forward without either making everything free (because of digital reproducibility) or lolcats (because lol).

To read the full piece click here.

  • sally

    nice one, Will. I am guilty of doing some of that sniping. I take your points.

  • mcreegan

    The question I have in reading Bishop’s piece is whether she is right that there only a few new media artists doing more than simply “using the medium” and adding some criticality to the work, or if it only seem that way to her due to her vantage point? And I dont mean to imply I know the answer to that, but I think that may account to her lack of mention of some names people want mentioned. Perhaps this isnt really appropriate to the discussion but one aspect missing from the AF article is how artists use digital and social media as context, not simply as content vs medium. In presenting ones work online, it sets up a much broader set of issues than just a gallery’s web presence. For example if an artist falls unter the category of installation/unmonumental-esque etc (IE Non new media), and the work is disseminated via the web, at what point does that become the primary context for the work? I can see this being the rehashing of issue related to print media, but the difference is the contextualizing of the work, the random discoveries, the different sized jpgs, etc. I also notice a trend on various sites like Colossal or Pinterest the visual impact of the jpg can have no relationship to the physical piece itself. I mean it is all about the wow factor of the 2D spectacle and not the wow factor of the 3d experience. Or at least it makes the viewer imagine the 3d wowness, which may not really be accurate. Anyway, it makes one wonder to what extent is art made with the online “image” in mind? Or to what extent is this aspect influencing what gets seen and brought into the cultural sphere? It seems to me whether or not New Media becomes more a part of the established art systems or it evolves independently, there is still some cross-influence here that goes beyond media turf and technophile/-phobe battles.

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