Monday, May 23, 2011

If Nobody Tweets About a Tree Falling in a Forest, Does It Make a Sound?

I don't even have to think about it any more. Even before my muddled morning mind has time to form a meaningful thought, my fingers fly across the keyboard and move my mouse to check in on the growing list of ways to measure the efficacy of my efforts. It's essential, it seems, that I begin my day with electronic evidence that I"m still here and that my world is still working:
  • How are the hit counts on the gallery website, any unusual patterns?
  • Anyone Tweeting about my artists or exhibitions?
  • Where's my book on the list?
  • Who's checking out the Moving Image website and from where?
  • How many new people want to be a Facebook friend?
  • Any new google alerts come in?
I can easily recall a time when the thought of buying a personal computer for my home seemed the height of nerdy self-indulgence, and yet now I seem to go into www.withdrawal if I don't get of my daily dose of digital validation.

From a pre-Internet/pre-SmartPhone perspective, I'm know that seems insane, but the truth of the matter is that it's easy to do it all, virtually subconsciously, and move on. Thinking about it is distracting (heh!...what you doing here?), but simply doing it is painless.

I thought about this when reading two things this morning. First was something MoMA curator Barbara London said about Cory Archangel, who has a highly anticipated exhibition opening up this Thursday at the Whitney.

From the NYTimes:
“Cory is one of the first in a young generation of digital hackers to really enter the art world,” said Barbara London, associate curator of media and performance art at the Museum of Modern Art, who has included Mr. Arcangel’s video works in several shows. “Now the boundaries between art forms are dissolving, and working digitally is just normal practice. But Cory was among the first. I think that’s really important.” [emphasis mine]
The second was Art in America's Brian Boucher reporting on Creative Time's commissioning of three Twitter art projects, including one by Winkleman Gallery fave, Man Bartlett (who has some great drawings in our current group exhibition, [be always plugging...always selling ;-)]):
For his Creative Time project, #24hPort, Bartlett will spend 24 hours at New York's Port Authority bus station, asking passengers and passersby, "Where are you going?" and "Where have you been?" and tweeting their responses, contrasting the drudgery of humble, real-time travel with the instantaneousness of networked messaging. [emphasis mine]
Again, the idea came is more than just normal, it's somehow, in some parallel universe sort of way, better.

Now I know there are folks who are concerned about the impact of our constant contact and the lack of courtesy we're showing each other because of it. A Palm Beach-based etiquette expert has even gone so far as to declare July as "National Cellphone Courtesy Month" (but as CNET has pointed out "The "National" part is debatable, since no national body like the U.S. Congress has backed the event.")

But count me among those not so worried about the way we spend so much time online (whether via our smart phones or personal computers). Count me among those much more worried about the kind of technology coming where you won't know someone is online (i.e., and not paying attention to you) because it will look like they're paying attention to you, when they're really reading their Tumblr on the inside of their wireless compu-glasses.

Labels: digital age


Blogger nathaniel said...

But Ed, you only listed your regular web/morning routine that has to do with your site, your artists, your gallery! The beauty of the work by the artists you mention is that they take many of the wonderful things "out there" and gift it back to us in unexpected and revealing ways. You, too, often write about and link to others, do politics and pop culture and more - so we know that your web/morning is also about looking at what the rest of the world is up to, internalizing and sharing that. Worth mentioning along with the other stuff. (Confession: despite being a very proud nerd, I almost never check my stats on my site - or any other of my web presences for that matter - any more, and I honestly still can't decide whether that's a good or a bad thing. Maybe I should go look now...)

5/23/2011 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a interesting article in the Ny Times magazine called the Twitter Trap by Bill Keller. This time period will always be generation My Face to me. I use to do a lot of big layout work with Trammel Points. I took them out of my tool box and put them on my desk along with some old math books pre calculator . If i could just get off the internet i might get something done.

5/23/2011 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Ed said: ". . .[be always plugging...always selling ;-)]):"

The previous phrase is a flawless use of emoticon, bracket, parens and colon. Ed, if the gallery thing doesn't work out, you have a great career in copyediting! ;-)

But to respond to your original thought: each generation of "time-saving" technology brings more to do. I've been at the keyboard for well over two hours this morning, and I have more to do before I head into the studio.

5/24/2011 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous sheri said...

I'm definitely with you on this. I also check to see how my digital self is doing every morning, before coffee, in a nearly unconscious state, (I still exist. Great!).

I also really like how I can carry my work and my ideas around with me all the time, (as a video artist). Shoot video, take pictures, read notes, get feedback. Ubiquitous studio.

Not everything is wonderful about technology, certainly, but these aspects are (for me).

5/26/2011 03:37:00 PM  

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