He Out-Bopped the Buzzard and the Oriole
And so it is, in this multi-tasking, up-to-downtown traversing, culture consuming world we live in ... to really take it all in you'd need helicopters and machines that slow down time...so you do the best you can and promise to return.
However, over the weekend, I also read what I think will become a new baseline in discussing how interconnectivity technology will impact how we view art. Ben Davis offers a paradoxically thoughtful response to his seemingly frantic Twittering of the New York Art fairs on artnet.com:
The experience [of an art fair] is one of colliding with people, having fragmentary conversations, being acutely aware that artworks are products in motion. Above all, it is an experience of registering fleeting esthetic impressions that jump out of the chaos and then melt back into it, like so many electrical signals shooting across your brain. . .Yes, it's a handy conceit for reporting on yet another gaggle of fairs, but Ben's observations stuck with me as I saw dozens of visitors at MoMA and the Whitney snapping images and forwarding them on their iPhones:
In other words, it sounds like a job for Twitter!
Despite spending half of my time either slouched over my phone or thrusting it at things to take a picture, I have to say that I felt empowered to just inhabit the experience of being at the Armory week fairs in a way that I was not when I was trying to straddle being either a journalist or a critic at previous installations.Here's the thing. Ben argues (accurately, in my opinion) that Twittering at a fair makes total sense, and even notes the important contextual difference between that venue and others:
The "as-it-happens" effect of Twitter adds something to your perspective as a writer -- it’s nice to give yourself license to cover artworks in their present, instead of squinting at them and abstracting them from the fair setting ("how would this look at the Whitney?")But I found myself tempted to Twitter at the museums...if only as an experiment. This impulse was thwarted by the power of the exhibitions (as I pulled out my iPhone rounding a corner, another Holzer piece stopped me in my tracks and I abandoned the idea), even as other viewers were busy snapping photos and texting.
Ben reported a similar experience at the fairs, and it makes my chest swell with pride (really it does, feel it) that it was at our booth at Pulse:
OK, so what's a dealer to do with this analysis?
As I turn my own experience over in my head, however, the moment that stands out for me is my encounter with an installation by Eve Sussman at Winkleman gallery.... The work consisted of a sort of countertop display of overlapping photos and texts. It was unclear immediately what I was looking at, except that it represented some kind of elliptical storyline. Dealer Ed Winkleman later told me that the pieces are connected to Sussman’s upcoming film, White on White: A Film Noir, an "experimental thriller" by Sussman tying Malevich’s esthetics to the Russian space program.
A heady project by a celebrated artist -- that’s really enough to produce some quick copy. But in the moment, confronted with the density of the actual object, I froze, trying to sum it up. And then I didn’t, moving on in search of something more immediately Tweet-worthy.
We've brought plenty of Tweet-worthy art to fairs (it's a fun place to debut work that works well when multitudes are viewing it at the same time). And, yes, we've brought work to fairs that a certain high-profile New York art critic (who shall remain nameless) said to my face was the type he never stopped to view at fairs because he didn't have that much time. (Grrr....).
And so, for me, this changes nothing really, except perhaps adding some useful new vocabulary to the art fair lexicon. "Do you think we need to balance the booth out with something Tweet-worthy?"
What I am really curious about is how this might impact viewers' and collectors' experience. If everyone starts Twittering the fairs, what will that do to the already accelerating conversations and (G-d forbid) ability to close sales!?! ("Yeah, we're interested, but we're gonna wait to see how many responses our Tweet on it gets before deciding.")