A dialogue with Rex Crockett, Arthur Whitman, and Karl Zipser; artwork by Rex Crockett.

KARL: This is the first post at our team blog’s new location, ArtAndPerception.com. What should we talk about?

ARTHUR: The topic of Art & Perception‘s future is perfect.

The OracleREX: What do you think we could accomplish? In what direction do you think we should go?

KARL: The most obvious goal for most of us is to become the best artists that we can be. Another goal is to make money doing it, or at least to survive. If Art & Perception is to be useful, rather than a distraction, it should help us with these key goals.

REX: Karl, interaction with other artists will definitely help with these goals you state. With other artists, it’s possible to explore new ideas before you take action on them. Other artists are more willing to experience edgy work. They can see through the rough edges to the inner jewel.

ARTHUR: Rex, I agree about the value of interacting with other artists. But can a blog provide the kind of interaction that would make a difference for the goals Karl states?

REX: Arthur, just to fill you on my background, I’m new to blogging. I heard about blogs, Oh, I don’t know, well, it was long after they were popular. I was not much interested because it seemed just another soapbox form. A fad. And now here’s a confession. I had never, ever, commented to a single blog before I did so recently at Art & Perception! I read the other comments and I went, “Wow. These people really have things to say!” I liked the spirit of the group. It reminded me of how intense, intelligent, socially conscious people are when they get together to talk in real life. Reflections on the South Fork of the SacramentoClearly, my earlier impression about blogs proved to be wrong. The good blogs are not just soapbox forums, and by good blogs, I mean blogs that really engage people and keep them coming back. I was engaged by Art & Perception. There was actual conversation.

KARL: Rex, I agree about that. There was a turning point on Art & Perception recently. The conversation in the comments began inspire me about my own art, and to influence my ideas about what art could be. This is why I asked the comment writers to start contributing posts this blog. If the comments could be so amazing, I reasoned, imagine what could happen if we started doing the whole blog together.

ARTHUR: I hate to be a killjoy, but I’m really missing Art & Perception the way it used to be, with just Karl posting.

KARL: Arthur, the essence of my solo blog writing before was dissent. I asked questions like, is art school worthless? Are dealers and curators making a mockery of art? I felt comfortable doing this when I was on my own. But when people began to join Art & Perception as contributors, I became super cautious about every word I wrote. I did not want to drive people away by seeming obnoxious or bossy. I think it worked, because the team is together here now. But it more or less killed my writing. That is one reason I’m glad to be just another contributor on Art & Perception now. The move from zipser.nl to ArtAndPerception.com was critical for that.

Camille and JeanREX: Karl, the .com aspect of the site is important. We should not preclude profit! Too many good artists don’t make money. Too many students are chasing their tails. In general, the way to make money is to help other people make money. I have found in my own life that the way to be a better artist is to help other artists be better. So an important goal of mine is to help other artists and students. In that way, I believe art itself could be pushed forward. Call it enlightened self interest, if you want, but the above formula really works.

KARL: A big question for us to work out is, how much art business do we want to do on Art & Perception itself? Can we be an interacting artist group and also sell art at the same time? Or does selling art require some kind of fake image that is incompatible with open discussion? Would selling compromise our ability to make honest critiques of each other’s works? Could we be critical when it might hurt sales? Or would good criticism help sales? This is not obvious at all, but I want to believe the latter.

REX: Karl, I know what you mean about that image stuff, but just because some artists have fake public images doesn’t mean it works. We should be setting the bar, not going underneath it. Being straightforward about one’s work has always been, in my experience, very refreshing to collectors. Looking at this another way, the blog is the form of the new millennium. It has already changed politics forever. The news media is being usurped. A revolution is underway. It’s time for artists to take control of the art news dissemination lines as well.

ARTHUR: I like talking to utopians, although–as Karl has pointed out–I tend to be of a more skeptical bent. You express tremendous and admirable enthusiasm for the idea of blogs as a group activity.

Beautiful VandalREX: Heh. :) Didn’t you know that us Utopians start learning how to handle the accusation that we’re Utopian somewhere around the time we are four years old? We either get better at handling that, or we capitulate. No capitulation here. The whole world turns on a single atom. The only certainty is change.

ARTHUR: I don’t want to puncture your vision here, Rex, but I do want to suggest that individual-centered “soapbox” blogs can also be valuable as well. At their best, blogs such as Karl’s and my own can be powerful tools for expressing idiosyncratic and marginalized voices and ideas.

REX: Well, actually, I’m with you there, Arthur. I singled out the soapbox as an example of badness, but surely, that’s not always bad. A forum for an individual voice can be utterly wonderful. It just usually isn’t. It’s usually a tiresome example of some twit who thinks he’s got something to say.

This is your site now. Join the dialogue. Rex is ready for comments on his pictures as well.