Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the role that reproduction plays in both the circulation and understanding of paintings, in part due to the flurry of online discussion that took place around the launch of Google Art Project last month. I’m not all that impressed by Google’s latest expansion of its Mapping empire, although I know that many educators think it’s a valuable teaching tool. I do like how some folks are already using it to curate their own idiosyncratic collection mash-ups — check out Chicago Now blogger Taleen Kalenderian’s “10 Art Babes from Google Art Project” for an example. Funny aside: when I first read the headline to that post I assumed the author was male, and that he was “cruising” the galleries virtually, surveillance-style, for good-looking women. And then I rolled my eyes. Now I sorta wish that that had been the case, because the museum galleries featured in Google Art Project are always dispiritingly absent of any human presence. I guess this makes sense, given the nature of the Project, but I find it depressing to look at – a sad, premonitory vision of a future where the physical spaces of museums are totally vacant, while across the globe countless clicking fingers connected to asses planted firmly in chairs peer through screens at the Vermeers and Van Goghs.
One substantive critique that has already been launched at Google Art Project — let’s call it GAP for short — is that (surprise surprise) it doesn’t include enough women. This is certainly true, but that’s mostly because GAP isn’t a curatorial project in and of itself. It’s simply mapping museum collections as they stand (or recently stood). So the lack of women is a fixable problem: When museums start putting more work by women on their walls, there will be more women represented on GAP. But here’s the problem that I’m not sure is fixable: the preponderance of museum galleries on GAP dedicated solely to painting, and the tendency on the part of those who decide which galleries in particular will get “Google Mapped” to not only focus on painting over other media, but on paintings that are either image-based or that translate well photographically.
We should remind ourselves that technology is biased, that the form of content delivery shapes the nature of the content delivered, as well as how it is received. In his book Program or Be Programmed, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff argues against conforming to the logic of social media or other technological platforms. If people working in the art and design fields celebrate the launch of GAP uncritically, the logic of GAP will subsume us until it becomes normative. The answer, as Rushkoff also advocates, is for us to be conscious of the ways that technological biases are deployed. (For more on Rushkoff’s work see here).
I’m more than a little afraid that Google Art Project will really take off, and that as a result curators will start making installation decisions based on how their galleries will look on GAP. But I’m also bolstered by the fact that GAP isn’t meant to be an archive, nor is it a catalogue – it’s a map whose destination points will shift over time. The problem with GAP’s form of mapping is that its contours are pretty much set, and that means a huge swath of artistic production that isn’t particularly reproduction-friendly, is–and will continue to be–omitted. Mind the gaps, indeed.
This week: Bad at Sports presents an interview from our media partner Art Practical. Kim Anno is interviewed by Bruno Fazzolari as a part of his ongoing series of interviews with artists regarding abstraction. Kim Anno is an Associate Professor of Painting at CCA who makes videos, photos and paintings with an undercurrent of environmental activism. Bon Appetit!
This week: Amanda and Tom go to the Rachel Uffner Gallery to talk with Roger White about his self titled show at the gallery which ran October 29th-December 13th. Roger talks about the show and painting as well as being an artist/journalist as the Vermont based artist is also a frequent contributor to the Brooklyn Rail as well as one of the founders of Paper Monument.
Drawing influence from both art history and popular culture, David Leggett, often mixing paint with crafting materials, makes paintings that confront race, sexuality, and class in humorous and ambiguous situations. In March 2010, he had his first solo exhibition, Up for the Down Stroke, at 65GRAND in Chicago, IL. The exhibition consisted of many smaller works on canvas as well as two large paintings — portraits of rapper, Rick Ross and singer, Beth Ditto. One of the highlights was a smaller piece, Colgate Smile, in which the artist depicts a black face, constructed out of felt and googly eyes on a round light blue canvas. Below the face, written with a paint stick, reads “thanks Bono”. Leggett’s subject matter, however, is not just limited to celebrities. Often inserting himself as a character, he appears breathing fire on Snow White, covered in “purple stuff” and wearing a crown with his shirt off.
Born in Massachusetts and currently living in Chicago, Leggett received his Masters Degree from the School of the Art Institute in 2007 and recently attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Black Visual Archive: When I look at your work I often find my self thinking about your materials, mainly your use of googly eyes and felt. It brings back memories of crafting as a child. What attracts you to these materials?
David Legget: I started using those materials due to my distrust in painting. I thought there were other ways to problem solve in my own work. In my past work, I would just fill in areas without giving much thought, but when I started to add glitter, felt, wiggle eyes and other materials it made think about how much information was needed. It also made me slow down. I think when you use them, materials can easily look like junk if you don’t take the time and think about the placement. (Continue reading).
Last year it was the amazing 8bit girl costume which I was eagerly awaiting to see what she would do this year and the costume seemed to be closing down her site so in it’s place the Best Halloween Costume idea of 2010 goes to the Amazing Banksy “Flower Thrower”.
George Schnakenberg has taken the iconic 2d graffiti work and turned it in to a living breathing (through a handkerchief) 3d person. You can see via his flickr stream his night out partying and either his proposal or attack of Raggedy Ann.
The costume is quite well done and best of all comfortable and versatile. Hope everyone had a great Halloween this year.