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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  October 2013

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING October 2013

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Subject:

Re: James Elkins on writing art history online

From:

helen varley jamieson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

helen varley jamieson <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 15:36:00 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

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this reminded me of turbulence's networked book on networked art 
(http://networkedbook.org/) - has this already been mentioned? (i'm not 
able to keep up with all the postings - TL;DR ;))

h : )

On 17/10/13 12:27 AM, Charlotte Frost wrote:
> From:  James Elkins
> Date:  Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:54
> To:  Charlotte Frost <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject:  Re: October's theme: Art History Online, an introduction
>
> Charlotte,
>   
> My pleasure.
>   
> Hi everyone. I'm glad to report on my efforts to write art history online. I
> started this in an informal way a couple of years ago -- I used to post
> questions to Facebook, collect the answers, and thank people in the text. I
> did that with this book:
>   
> http://www.amazon.com/Art-Critiques-Guide-Second-Edition/dp/098602161X
>   
> It's full of footnotes thanking people on Facebook. (A third edition is in
> preparation, so if anyone has stories or ideas about critiques that aren't
> in the book, please send them to me!)
>   
> But I really started writing art history online earlier in 2013. I have two
> book projects that are currently being written live. I'll summarize them and
> then say something about how it's going.
>   
> 1. "North Atlantic Art History and Worldwide Art" is being written on Google
> Drive. Most Drive pages are embedded, live, in my website
>   
> http://www.jameselkins.com/index.php/experimental-writing/251-north-atlantic
> -art-history
>   
> and I continuously post new additions to Facebook. Here for example is a
> post on the worldwide spread of art criticism, one of the topics in the
> book:
>   
> https://www.facebook.com/james.elkins1/posts/10201173872961275
>   
> 2. "Writing with Images" is a book on experimental writing in art history,
> theory, and criticism, and more generally all writing that uses images,
> including fiction. It is being written on two blogs, and they are both
> linked to my own website:
>   
> http://www.jameselkins.com/index.php/experimental-writing/256-writing-with-i
> mages
>   
> Here is one of the two:
>   
> http://305737.blogspot.com/
>   
> And here is a typical Facebook post that started a big discussion. The topic
> was why Derrida, Foucault, and others don't count as art history:
>   
> https://www.facebook.com/james.elkins1/posts/10201243699906905
>   
> I have plans to write one other book live, in addition to the "Art
> Critiques" book. Everything I write is posted to Facebook, Twitter,
> LinkedIn, and most are also posted on my Academia.edu site:
>   
> http://saic.academia.edu/JElkins
>   
> The idea of writing online, for me, is to acknowledge the fact that these
> subjects are open-ended, and that there is no single authority. I also like
> the idea of exposing unfinished things to immediate critique: it avoids the
> appearance of the polished text -- sometimes I don't even wait for "rough
> drafts," but write live online, so people might see the text at any stage.
>   
> Most of the discussions and suggestions happen on Facebook. I find LinkedIn
> completely moribund and uninteresting. I also use Scribd and Researchgate,
> and I find no real community on either site. Academia is a very active site
> for me (lots of visitors and downloads) but no community. Twitter just
> hasn't developed much use for me simply because comments are so short. There
> is such a thing as a complex idea!
>   
> Facebook works fine. There is a fair amount of TL;DR ("too long; didn't
> read") -- that is, people make comments based on the lines introducing the
> post, without having read the text. But even that can be useful. If I
> summarize a chapter in a sentence or two in order to post it on Facebook,
> then I am in effect sending the same message a reader gets when she thumbs
> through a book before she buys it. The title and abstract do count, so even
> off-topic comments based on the title and abstract can be useful.
>   
> When I get specific comments, criticism, suggestions, etc., I incorporate
> them immediately into the text and thank the people who posted. So my books
> will have lots of passages like this:
>   
> "Reading an early version of this chapter, Colleen Anderson remarked that
> this subject connects to Cixous's works on.." etc.
>   
> All those references will make for an unusual reading experience, but I
> think it will feel, and be, more participatory.
>   
> I don't think this crowd sourcing would make sense for all of art history,
> theory, or criticism. These subjects I'm working on have two characteristics
> that make them especially well suited. (1) These books are about very
> undecided, contentious subjects, where even fundamental terms are undecided;
> and (2) they are about general topics, not specialized ones.
>   
> Regarding the supposed wildness of the internet: I had a "fan" page, with
> 16,000 "fans," but most were inactive. I shut it down, and my current page
> is a personal page, limited to 5,000. Of those, about 300 are active, and
> only about 20 or 30 are spammers (I shut them down whenever I see them).
> Less than 10, I think, are crazy in an unproductive sense: that is, there
> are many people whose opinions are wild in relation to academia, or in
> relation to the art market, or in relation to modernism or postmodernism --
> but less than 10 or so who are non-social, solipsistic, fanatical,
> fundamentalist, or otherwise unproductive.
>   
> On the other hand there may be 100 or more who are art historians, and
> "lurk" on the site. I hear about them in different places, and in different
> ways; some are friends.  But they have strong disciplinary allegiances, and
> they don't like to post, or be "seen," on unserious sites like Facebook.
> Those users, I have to say, do bother me, because they are timid.
>   
> Hope this helps; feel free as always to write me, here or elsewhere; and
> please do have a look at the many posts and see if there's anything you'd
> like to add. So far, everything I'm doing online is intended for eventual
> print publication: the reason is simply that it yields a different
> distribution, different readers. It isn't better or worse, or the past or
> the future: it's just another medium.
>   
> Best,
>   
> Jim
>   
>   
>


-- 
helen varley jamieson
[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
http://www.creative-catalyst.com
http://www.wehaveasituation.net
http://www.upstage.org.nz

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