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Art blogger panel discussion

Post #1150 • March 31, 2008, 10:40 AM • 26 Comments

I have now either witnessed or participated in three panel discussions on art blogging in the last six years, and in all of them the conversation turned to remediation, answering questions like: how much time do you spend on your blog, are you an artist or a writer or a critic, how many hits do you get, do you know who reads you, and so on. The New Yorkers in attendence at Art Bloggers @ Red Dot asked the same questions as Miamians in 2004, from which I draw no inferences except that the medium still mystifies. The audience had around forty people in it, so folks are interested.

I had a great time putting faces to names and meeting folks I've only known through their writing. My list of bloggers present includes:

Along with panelists:

Big thanks to Joanne and Sharon for putting it together.



Joanne Mattera Art Blog

April 1, 2008, 2:37 PM

Hi, Franklin--

Thanks for posting about the panel. I'd like to take a small issue with your reportage in that we DID talk about more than how-much-time-do-you-spend-on-your-blog and how-many-hits-do-you-get.

The first question I tossed to the panelists was on journalistic standards with regard to research, writing, editing--Journalism 101, basically. Ed Winkleman had a great response, saying something to the effect that his readers were his editors, and if he makes a mistake, he's immediately called on it. We all agreed that the nature of the medium allows us to post changes immediately.

Paddy Johnson talked about the consequences of what she writes. I can't give you quotes as I was busy moderating, but the essence was that it's one thing to post a less-than-flattering comment and quite something else to have to run into the objects of your derision or scorn.

We also talked about whether we were writing critically or reportorially--or doing something else altogether--and many on the panel lamented the diminishing amount and quality of print criticism.

We could have gone on for another hour. And next time I hope we will. We'll definitely convene in Miami in December, and Sharon Butler and I are casting about for a venue in New York sometime in the fall.

Did I say it was great seeing you again? It was.




April 1, 2008, 4:07 PM

OK. So, is there anyone besides us criticising anything?


that guy

April 1, 2008, 5:00 PM

Well, I suppose a post on an "art panel discussion" is as close as as it gets this year to an April fools joke... oh well. On second thought they are often real knee slappers.



April 1, 2008, 5:25 PM

OP, you need to be more reasonable. If you lived in NYC and posted nasty comments (i.e., the truth) about Koons or Currin or some other exemplar of art world claptrap, you might conceivably run into them (or across them) in some way at some venue. Just imagine how gauche it might be (or at least appear). Try to approach this as if you were Miss Manners, or something like that. It's just too horrible a prospect. It's far safer, not to mention more practical, to go the air-kiss route. I hear all the best people do it.



April 1, 2008, 5:38 PM

Steer clear of the openings at blue chip galleries and you won't run into any of the art world all stars. They are too busy humping porn stars, snorting coke, etc., while their voluminous staffs churn out the merch.



April 1, 2008, 5:43 PM

And evidently, based on recent experience here, if Ed W. doesn't want to be called on it (or otherwise inconvenienced), he's not above pre-emptively telling potential challengers, I mean miscreants (like us Artblog types) not to bother commenting at his blog in the first place. Well, I suppose it makes for a neat, tidy, well-regulated environment, and I expect his regulars probably appreciate it. After all, the pious deserve to practice in peace (or so I'm told by Orthodox sources).


Marc Country

April 1, 2008, 6:44 PM

"he's not above pre-emptively telling potential challengers, I mean miscreants"...

It's "editors", Jack... as in "his readers were his editors"...



April 1, 2008, 6:50 PM

Joanne steered the conversation ably and I should have credited her for doing so. It was great to see you too.



April 1, 2008, 6:51 PM

I have gotten into arguments with people over at EW's blog and of course Franklin has. Most of the criticial comments are submitted anaonymously though.



April 1, 2008, 8:07 PM

If people can't immediately see what a dull, second-rate painter Jasper Johns is not much can be gained from talking to them. Not about art, anyway.

Maybe about blogs. That's another discussion.



April 2, 2008, 6:45 AM

Re #2: The answer is Yes. There are people criticizing people like us for being too negative, nasty, out-of-it and generally impious.



April 2, 2008, 8:09 AM

The question of what an art blogger does, or should be doing, is a worthy one. I think many art blogs I’ve stumbled on waver between reportage, commentary, and, worst of all, long blocks of text from other sources, with a cryptic or pointless comment from the blogger at the end.

It makes it hard to follow a single blog, because if you like more general art world (or just general art) essays and topics, you might not find show announcements and fluff worth following. But if you like short, frequent, surface-skimming posts, than a longer more involved essay would tire you out. Personally, I enjoy more general ideas that are well-explored and widely-applicable, or essays that extrapolate broader concepts/trends from single events or works. But I might just be saying that I like blogs that read more like print essays.



April 2, 2008, 8:23 AM

Despite the overblown role that words supposedly play in advanced art nowadays, neither printed materials nor blogs appear to have much influence on serious art. So the best reason for an artist to read and participate is that it is fun, if it is fun.


redneck railroad

April 2, 2008, 9:30 AM

Oh yall are such pariahs....



April 2, 2008, 11:15 AM

Thanks for driving by, redneck. I take it you're especially hard up just now. Normally, I'm sure you have much better things to do and much better places to be at. Must be a slow day. It happens.


Joanne Mattera

April 2, 2008, 4:29 PM

Thanks, for the kind words, Franklin.

I think we had a fairly wide ranging conversation in an hour's time. I'd love two hours next time, with more give and take between audience and panel. And of course it would be good to get different panelists for their different ideas--though I think Carol, Ed, Paddy, Carolina and Sharon were smart and interesting and not at all in agreement with one another, which made it even better.

One of the really lovely things about the group that convened--panel and audience--is that it was so positive. Not that everyone was in agreement with everything, but the tone was friendly and respectful as we were all there united by an interest in art and in blogging.

I only wish that my organizational duties hadn't pulled me away from just hanging out and chatting with folks.

I am always taken aback by the level of negativity, bitterness and anger that crops up in art blog discussions and, often, the degree of personal vituperation. There was none of that at the "conference."



April 2, 2008, 9:29 PM

We do our best here to distinguish between the "negativity" you describe and hard, honest, tough criticism of the 99% of art out there that isn't worth looking at, Joanne.

"Personal vituperation" has no place on a serious blog, but neither does mutual backsratching.



April 3, 2008, 8:12 AM

"I am always taken aback by the level of negativity, bitterness and anger that crops up in art blog discussions and, often, the degree of personal vituperation."

Joanne I am surprised to hear this. If you bother to look at the comment threads on most blogs generated in any cultural sphere, they are usually filled with name calling, nonsensical non-sequitors, and other byproducts of mental dysfunction. The art world is no exception.


Marc Country

April 3, 2008, 8:18 AM

Joanne, why do you find bitterness, negativity, and anger on art blogs so surprising?

Passionate, overworked, underpaid, opinionated, anonymous artists, hashing out the insanity and inanity of the 21st c. artworld... what did you expect, a love-in?

I mean, we've got to be at least as tough-minded and serious as the wonks on the political blogs, don't we?

'I'm-ok-you're-ok', sometimes, just isn't ok... ok?


Marc Country

April 3, 2008, 8:19 AM

high-fives Eric

Cue the love-in...



April 3, 2008, 8:52 AM

The comment threads for online newspapers are particularly ugly. The dark seamy underside of America comes out into the digital day light. Do we really think that the ‘enlightened’ art world is above pettiness, jealousies, and cheap attacks? I do get the feeling that Joanne’s comment, which I quoted above, might have been a backhanded swipe at readers/commenters but I am willing to admit that I am wrong about this.


Joanne Mattera Art Blog

April 3, 2008, 9:51 AM

Eric said: "I do get the feeling that Joanne’s comment, which I quoted above, might have been a backhanded swipe at readers/commenters but I am willing to admit that I am wrong about this."

You're wrong about this, Eric. I was speaking generally about the tone I find on most art blogs in which there is discussion, and making the point that the tone was completely different when we all met in person. Some of the same bloggers who are negative on line were kittens in person.

I enjoy argument and discussion, but you proved my point. I'm not picking on you guys. In general, I find a degree of negativity in blogs that takes me aback. I think it's simply that in the blogosphere there's no body language, facial expression and general immediate give and take that allows irony to be seen as irony and not cynicism, or disagreement be seen as simple disagreement and not personal attack.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But in the blogosphere, sometimes a cigar gets blown up to blimp proportions. N'est-ce pas?



April 3, 2008, 9:58 AM

As I said, "I am willing to admit that I am wrong about this."

I think emails and blog comment threads are missing tone and this causes major misunderstandings. Voice inflexion, body movement, facial expressions, they are all missing. The phenomena has been written about. There was a good article in the NYRB on the subject not too long ago. Think about how many real world relationships have been completely ruined because of email or blogger musunderstandings. That is what happens when large swathes of the population fling themselves into new technologies without any recourse to the consequences.



April 3, 2008, 10:01 AM

'misunderstandings' not 'musunderstandings'.



April 4, 2008, 11:15 AM

"...simple disagreement and not personal attack."

Check out this blog a couple years ago and you will find a lot of the "personal attack" sort of thing (not from the regulars) but most of those people fled after they were made to look ridiculous and petty - In the most refined and genteel manner, of course!



April 5, 2008, 11:18 PM

I agree , and one of them might just be you !!(Opie)



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