Art blogging has gotten a lot of attention recently. Last week Kriston Capps and Ed Winkleman suggested interest in an on-blog survey of responses to questions posed in a recent discussion, published in Art in America. So here’s my go at it. Anyone else, please chime in with your perspectives, comments, gripes, etc. What are we doing here, anyway?
1. What’s the purpose of your blog?
I think of it as a replacement for the local cafe, a place where there are mostly regulars, but also any interested newcomers, and the order of the day is discussion of art topics. Since we propose these ourselves, they typically come out of some issue we’re grappling with, whether in our own art-making, or in our understanding of other artists, the workings of the art world, etc. Speaking for myself, I think I’ve learned a lot about my own photography and about art in general.
2. What are the boundaries of your blog?
There are none specified. Any problems arising, major proposals, or applications for membership are voted on by the group. Comments are wide open, though we do delete irrelevant spam.
3. Tyler has cited Joy Garnett’s NewsGrist blog as doing a great job of “placing art within a sociocultural and political context.” What I see on NewsGrist is a magazinelike interspersing of short profiles, exhibition reviews, op-ed pieces on how other people are covering things, and Village Voice–like political takes. But what does Tyler’s comment mean to you, and why are blogs in general better positioned than print to do what he describes?
“Placing art within a sociocultural and political context” means, for us, placing it in the context of our conversation — what we’ve discussed before, or what we assume we know in common. We don’t claim that this is or should be anyone else’s context. Print media can go part way, but they are not necessarily addressing our concerns, and they are not conversations.
4. Why can’t blogs go further, to the point where there’s hardly any discernible difference between artist and critic/commentator, blog and work of art?
I don’t see anything preventing it, if that’s the kind of art the artist/critic/commentator wants to make.
5. What scope and degree of editorial control do you exercise over your blog?
It’s a group blog. Control is full over my own posts, none over other members’. If someone wants to do a guest post through me, I may offer suggestions, and retain the right of refusal. A guest can post via any member.
6. What about posting comments from readers, and what about anonymity?
All comments are welcomed, and anonymous comments allowed.
7. What’s “trolling,” and why don’t some of you allow it?
Not a problem here, so we haven’t bothered to define it.
8. Is trolling really so easily identified and universally bad? Is having posters register a solution?
Judging trolls is not so easy; mistaken labeling occurred here once and was rectified. Registration inhibits.
9. What about liability coverage?
Referring to Jay’s ladders?
10. What’s the economic model of your blog?
None. There’s been talk of having an associated gallery for members’ art, but it’s never caught on. The blog may deliver some attention for participants, but that’s about it. We have no aversion to earning money, but neither have we made any attempt.
11. How do you see your blog’s relation to the established print art media?
We sometimes follow up on stories appearing elsewhere if it piques our fancy. It doesn’t seem to have gone the other direction yet.
12. Tyler and Regina, what’s the relationship between your blogging and your work in the print media?
13. How do you attract readers/posters other than by word of mouth?
We are linked to from other blogs, and we also turn up in search results. To cite a fairly recent example, we were Google-ranked #2 for “NeoIntegrity manifesto,” the post being a commentary following a NY Times article about the show (now we’re at #4).
14. In general, is blog art criticism more open and liberal, and print criticism more closed and conservative?
Neither, but it is more diverse — though not always on our blog.
15. Some people say that there’s a dearth of art criticism at length on blogs. Is this true? If so, does it have more to do with reading on a computer in general, or with art criticism in particular?
True for our blog. It has almost entirely to do with access to artworks and writing time available.
16. Art magazines come out once a month. Newspaper art reviews usually appear once a week. Blogs appear more or less daily, and sometimes have updates by the hour. Do you think that the faster pace of blogs will start to affect the pace of art-making?
17. Tyler just said that there’s more good art being made by more artists in more places than at any time in history. Is this true? And if so, what’s the reason?
It’s what one would expect with the number of artists up, and barriers (e.g. availability of information and materials) down.
18. Do blogs help correct the geographical bias in print art criticism, i.e., the tendency to think that most of the important stuff happens in New York or Los Angeles, and the difficulty of art outside those places to get national attention?
Most of us live in the US, including New York and Los Angeles, but geography does not seem too relevant.
19. One index of a city’s gravity as an art center is young artists—perhaps recent MFAs—from elsewhere coming to set up shop. Is that happening in Philadelphia and Portland?
It’s happening in Bozeman, …
20. Is there any constructively negative edge to your blogging and, if so, what is it?
It may be constructive for the participants, in that negative comments can potentially further our understanding of the art as much as positive ones can. Only those on the receiving end can judge whether it’s useful to them. Among ourselves, negative comments are not to common, though welcomed by some, at least. Some outside artists we have discussed (positively and negatively) have responded on the blog.
21. Let’s throw something back into the mix: naked human ambition. Unknown bloggers want to be little bloggers; little bloggers want to be bigger bloggers; and bigger bloggers want to be called, as is Tyler’s Modern Art Notes, “the most influential of all the visual-arts blogs” by the Wall Street Journal.
We’re not striving for influence, but larger membership and participation might be nice…
22. Where will your blog be in three to five years?
I’m amazed at any blog that lasts so long. We’re about one year old, in our current form, and I have no idea whether the blog will exist in two more.