Thanks to all those who have been wrestling patiently with this
I'd like to pick up on the debate concerning the difference between
wider 'contextual' criticism, and more specifically 'art criticism',
and to introduce a more pragmatic angle concerning the 'first
contact' end of criticism - that of press coverage.
I've just read about 250 press clippings concerning the show "010101:
Art in Technological Times", and the first things to strike me were:
There was a great deal of coverage concerning:
Wider cultural context issues of technology in work, finance, hacking etc.
Curatorial politics concerning museums and new media.
There was very little coverage concerning:
The content of the individual artworks.
The 'quality' of individual artworks.
Curatorial selection of art.
Obviously this is just one specific case, and could be for many
reasons, but one possible cause could be the relative inexperience of
mainstream journalists concerning new media art, contributing to
their unwillingness to hazard any quality judgments. It may also
reflect the wider academic criticism balance, where a 'cultural
studies' approach has dominated over debate of the art itself.
Whilst this wider cultural approach might be useful at this stage,
and for 'context', it seems unfair on the artists that their art
doesn't get what other artworks get - the hard stare of informed
people, and the debate which feeds into future production, into the
brains of people who didn't see the show themselves (including other
artists, and those who never read Lists), and into the library
archives. I'm not calling for a return to old-fashion formalist
criticism here, but as well as 'context', it helps to know what the
artwork looked like and how well it 'worked' (in the widest sense).
It also struck me that some of the most relevantly "informed people"
about new media art are new media artists (and curators). And that
there is, perhaps, a short period of freelance opportunity here for
artists and curators to approach the journals (and the journalists)
to attempt to quickly inform the level of mainstream criticism. I
know that some of you on this list already do this, but maybe we
could do with more,