Tuesday, February 10, 2009
This past Friday, I participated in the Drawdown event at MOCA Jacksonville. This is the second time I have participated, and this time the atmosphere was distinctly different. First off, I knew none of the participants (last time there were several artists I knew there). Secondly, no-one was documenting the event, and for me, this was hugely freeing.
In Jacksonville, it has come to be expected and accepted that at an opening or event, there will be several people (including myself) poking around with documentary devices. However, the absence of this at Friday's Drawdown reminded me not just of art-classes from long-ago, but also of the free-for-all-years (in my estimation) of the scene here in Jacksonville...at the dawn of this century.
For a while now, I have been thinking alot about the media-saturated culture we live in (and as a writer and blogger, I must count myself in this sometimes viperous, often mistake-prone crew), and how it transforms even the mundane.
But at what cost?
I remember how exciting it used to be to head out to openings and various events, the thrill of the unveiling, the possibility of unexpected encounters (even those expected) and conversations. Now, if I miss an opening I can just scoot around the Interweb to see what I missed. So one the one hand, it is tremendously convenient. But on the other hand, it dilutes participation, and frames the experience through someone else's narrative. It can be likened to the photographing of an installation; these images then frame the experience for those not there. And a good (even competent photographer) can make much out of very little.
Beyond even that though, is the sense that work is available for viewing online...and though I'd be the first to argue that there is a huge difference in seeing a reproduction of a work versus seeing it in person, sometimes it is just easier to boot up the 'ol Mac. And therein is the conundrum. Paradoxically, one cannot be an artist (of, say, my generation) without electronic exposure...however, how and when work is exposed becomes of paramount importance.
Personally, I do not have a website, my art practice is so inconsistent that right now there is no need. However, I do have the requisite Facebook/myspace/twitter triad to promote my social networking, plus *this* forum, and occasionally I'll put new work up...so I am not free of the desire to be known far and wide. Nor do I have a set criteria for what goes public and what stays private--beyond the initial self-edit of that which should be burned and that which isn't entirely bad. Though I tend to aim for works to be in a show before I throw them up online, but this too is born of my own arrogance: if I see an image too often reproduced (especially my own), it ceases to be of tremendous interest.
So then, to return to the original thesis of this post: to document or not? I must say that it can only be decided on a case-by-case basis...and perhaps an exhortion to moderation and restraint.
And please, don't take my picture.