Why is it (or not) important to define this?

October 6, 2007 at 7:43 pm | Posted in Definition | 3 Comments

Is it just a marketing play?

What impact do you think this will have, if any?

Is it different and new that we need a new definition?

Who should define this?

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  1. The impact of UGC on Art is something I think about all the time indeed I could riff for a long time, but here are my condensed thoughts.

    The on-line video craze seems to me like the end of co called “video art.” And certainly this is user generated content. Youtube, on the whole, strikes me as one big, very imported and consequential artwork made up of all these littler bits of UGC. I fond it ironic to go to a place like PS1 and watch like 12 fairly boring overdone or over-artified videos that don’t hold me attention, then go home to youtube and watch 12 videos that are vastly more entertainling and frequently no less artful. In truth, they also often tell me much more about people and life, as art should do. This was the premise for our “new readymades” piece which we showed last year in the exhibit at whitman. Take youtube and put it in the gallery to show that it’s better (or more effective) than the “video art” that you might ordinarily find there. In any case, Youtube also presents a lot of problems for artists working in this area, because it does begin to feel like the death of the author in a way. Everyone can do it, right? So why need artists? I don’t have the answer to this question yet. Except to say that it helps redefine art. Art may now be an inadequate word. Artist may now be an inadequate title. Too limiting. When I see art in a gallery nowadays I often have the feeling that I don’t like “art” anymore. I recently came across these interview ( responses from the famous artist David Hammons (who I like A LOT)and they struck this same chord with me. LINK TO THE INTERVIEW: http://www.brown.edu/Departments/MCM/people/cokes/Hammons.html))

    Youtube is like “the street” for video artists. I’m thinking also that the term “video art” is going dead too, like painting before it in many ways. But on-line UGC video is very much alive! Art now revolves in and of itself so much more in this UGC sort of mode, where truths (to me at least) feel revealed by the group’s content and participation, and the overarching organizational architecture that brilliantly enables it is a real artwork (youtube). The broad enthusiastic energy-filled dynamic communities that these situations foster are so exciting to me. This is the kind of excitement I really want from “art,” I think In this sense, the notion of the singular creator, the lone genius making his/her things in his/her studio, might have fading cache. This is of course a scary notion for people who call themselves “artists,” including myself and many of my friends with whom I speak about this subject.

  2. Artist are not the only “institution” that needs to re-negotiate their place in the world in the surge of UGC. Although trends suggest that new technologies don’t erase old media, it just makes it more complex.

    I’m not sure that galleries will go away but, they will coexist with more venues to show art. For example Saatchi with his now very popular digital gallery anybody can post their work and get feedback on it. Even the drawing room has an open online space for anybody to upload and show their work. I think this can create a very interesting conversation between traditional art systems and newer systems.

    Since the division of high and low brow culture, I think artists have been pushing against that line between popular/folk culture making the everyday a point of discourse as well as a source of art (which at this point I think is has just become a critical approach presented in visual language). And I wonder if everything is art, is anything art?

  3. UGC and Art, Pros-Cons

    Once again the debate about the “death of art” rears its weary head, struggling to claim that a new technology will overturn history and art as we know it, will be no more. Hundreds of years of history will fall by the wayside as some new invention takes hold. Sounds like “photography vs. painting” circa 1880. Now, in 2007 the problem is there are still plenty of painters out there. While the Internet and websites such as YouTube have created new channels for distribution of art work and supplied artists with plentiful subject matter, I see no indication whatsoever that art or artists are any way on a decline or endangered. Rest easy young painters!

    People, it seems, are actually growing more interested in producing and viewing art. In fact, museum attendance worldwide steadily increases each year, despite astronomical admissions prices. What doesn’t surprise me, however, is that most who view art come from upper economic classes and tend to be highly educated.

    http://repositories.cdlib.org/lewis/scs/Vol1_No7/
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D03E3D61438F932A35751C0A96F958260&sec=travel

    Funding supporting institutions and new construction of architecture to house museums and private collections also continues to rise. If anything, the surge of MFA students flooding institutions indicates no less than a swelling of artists in the world, and what UGC provides is another place for people to show their work or market themselves. It was Warhol after all, an artist, who acknowledged our thirst for fame and wealth.

    YouTube, and similar web platforms for streaming media are more likely to be a distribution channel for mass-culture and less art culture, which is and will continue to be deemed cultural production. And I mean more high culture than low. Why will this continue when such free distribution is available? For better or worse, it seems that capitalism and economics motivate galleries, collectors, and many artists more than most within the art world would like to admit. Another significant benefit UGC gives is a better network for artists and viewers to find common places to discuss (such as this or http://painternyc.blogspot.com/), or voice various art criticism within a widespread forum.

    Another set of possible criteria keeping art in the world beyond the screen are phenomenological: attention and affect of the artwork. Video and screen-space art contains its own set of limitations. Simply put, people who like objects will never replace their need to experience work in situ with a ditty on YouTube. Even more, we humans have individual needs of experience and some will always prefer to feel, to experience, in tangible form a work of art. This is why even though we’ve had films for one hundred years now, there are still Shakespeare festivals. It seems too dogmatic and too purist an idea to consider one medium superior and an end-all for art production.

    Finally, I argue that art, even in the most classical of traditions—painting for example—is inherently nothing more than user (artist/individual)-generated-content, and therein lies a natural affinity for artists to exploit this medium. Perhaps the nomenclature of individuals as “users” is problematic in this discussion. Ultimately, what I have left out of this conversation is clearly defining the term “art,” which while it might be entirely subjective, might hold historical and theoretical relevance. I opine that art is a continual set of ever-changing processes, within which artists make new arguments rethinking humanity’s position in the world. As my working definition, I find that UGC doesn’t threaten art, but coincides with any other formalized discourse of aesthetics. We wouldn’t have such a pluralistic society without art shifting its boundaries as new ideas, technologies and systems develop.


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