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

I'll be quick.  Regarding the dynamics of "attention" and Damien Hirst,
the critic Michael Corris in Art/text sheds some light.  Hirst simply
translates "English Morbidity" into an "international" idiom using
vitrines and cabinets a la Jeff Koons or Mark Dion.  This diagramatic
display, evident in Hirst's "Strip Teaser" (surgical equipment and 2
skeletons) or Dion's "The Great Munich Bug Hunt" (an entomology cabinet
filled with neat rows of glass vials) encourages an attitude of
"peripheral visual interest--of the glance rather than the fixed,
inquiring gaze.  Essentially, it is a grid tableaux where no single
viewpoint or event is privileged.

It's funny, because in my first encounter with Koons' floating
basketballs, this was the first time I had seen institutional display
given supremacy over the object.  These pieces seem to derive their
peculiar eloquence from an infantilistic fear that the objects, or
Koons' entire art enterprise, lacked the ability to stand on their own
without annexing advertising culture and display.  A fear that I feel
is, in and of itself interesting, rather than hindering of the final art
"aura."  Donald Kuspit seems to slam any artist that is not exhibiting a
healthy, integrated, mature adult personality in their art--winning the
anxious battle over the spastic, palsied hand in painting .  Why should
emotional health be a standard for visual, cultural products?  This goes
back to your comment, "One gets most attention by having nothing to
hide, or rather choosing to hide nothing."  In this sense, Koons and
Hirst have not "chosen" to hide nothing, but have subconsciously created
works that reveal everything--a cynicism of their own artworks value
over time, a desperate need for immediate recognition, a grasping ego.

Corris expands on attention and advertising display in regard to Hirst: 
"The essential quality of our encounter with advertising embodies this
sense of total abandonment in the presence of the image.  If this does
not occur, if our resistance to the image does not crumble
instantaneously, the encounter is sterile.  Without our participation in
the allure and fascination of the image, advertising remains a failed
enterprise."  Hirst really does not employ shock tactics in his art,
just the rhetoric of advertising, which is rarely shocking.  As with
advertising, the "fixed, inquiring gaze" of sustained reflection
neutralizes the objects allure--the moment of immediate apprehension is
diminished.  Hirst gathers attention to himself in only the most
superficial artworld ways:  Saatchi, magazine covers, profiles in Elle
and Vanity Fair--all detrimental when you finally arrive at the museum
armed with your inquiring, lingering gaze and realize that the
performative aspects of the life/art project were never inscribed on the
object itself--they never made it that far.

David Hunt

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