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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Art and the attention economy

What a great posting! I think Michael has a very good point, and has
said something I had half-written in an unsent post. He wrote:

>Whatever else it does, every work of art to be successful must succeed
>in focussing attention, pulling it in.

This is exactly why artists shouldn't blame the viewers for not being
able to understand them. It's not good enough for Simon Biggs to say

>Digital artists do have world views (at least the good ones) but 
>perhaps within the limitations of traditional art discourse they are 

All artists need a keen sense of how their work comes across to other
people if, that is, they want attention. Many artists I know would never
admit to catering in any way to an audience; nevertheless, they have a
good instinct about when their work is communicating and when it isn't.
You can't say that we need a new discourse for art in the digital age;
the web and multimedia are easy to use, and anyone should be able to get
something out of art made for or with new media. If they can't, I would
place the fault with the artist, not with the viewer.

>In fact why not consider the ability to do that as the very essence of 
>art in the contemporary world? Whether we reefer to Damien Hirst's meat 
>slabs, Jenny Holzer's flashing signs, Chuck Close's self-portraits or 
>the web art of jodi.org, all must ensnare our attention to be successes 
>as art, and if they do that, they need do nothing else specific to be 

This is part of a debate that is central to the work being made by young
artists in Britain. I wouldn't say that all art, or even all good art
must attract attention to the extent that Damien Hirst does. There are
plenty of interesting artists - Steven Pippin, Jane & Louise Wilson,
Douglas Gordon - who are doing just fine without shocking in the
slightest (or being bought by Saatchi). But their work is accessible to
a wide public. Anyone remotely interested could go into a gallery and
get something out of their work. This is really what has worked for the
majority of young artists here. It works for the art world and it works
for the real world. It has critical, commercial and public appeal.

I wouldn't go so far as to say this is necessary, but it seems to be the
way things are going. I see it as neither cynical, nor
anti-intellectual, but democratic. As Damien Hirst always used to say,
"I want to make art my mother would like"; i.e. there must be something
in it for the man on the street. Not that this is *all* there should be.
But I think many artists working with new media would do well to take

>To gain the most attention, one generally wants one's work, or word of 
>it, to be widely disseminated. The best way to achieve this is to allow 
>anyone to copy or reproduce it, with no strings attached.... Imagine 
>everything you do on one's your own computer automatically and 
>immediately appearing on your website; that would go some way towards 
>assuring witnesses very early on.

To my mind this is another misunderstanding common in the new media
world. Often intriguing people without necessarily making the work
totally available to all at all times is the best way of getting
attention. How about creating a situation where people really want to
find out about your work, rather than pushing it at them all the time?
As someone who receives up to 100 press releases, PR emails and phone
calls a day, I can guarantee there's nothing that turns me off more than
over the top persistence! There is one participant of this mailing list,
who I won't name, from whom I've received so many unsolicited emails
that it's unlikely we will never cover his art... Is that an awful thing
to say? [Paranoia all round...]

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