Has the Internet Changed Art Criticism? On Service Criticism and A Possible Future

(0)

 

Mel Bochner, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH (2008)

A version of this essay was initially written for a panel discussion with Pitchfork's Ryan Schreiber, Isaac Fitzgerald from Buzzfeed Books, and LA Times art critic Christopher Knight at Superscript: Arts Journalism & Criticism in a Digital Age, a conference at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Watch the panel discussion here. 

Look at the title. I'm asking has, not "how." Contemporary art is still in the early stages of the digital shift that other industries have already experienced. To better understand what might be happening to art criticism, we should look to other fields and assess the structures that have developed as a response to the internet's effect.

There are two facets to this "internet effect": the first is in publishing and circulation, the second in the way this dissemination shapes a discipline and the discourse around it. Music and literature experienced the digital shift in a much more extreme way than contemporary art has thus far. This experience began with circulation—the adjustment from object to mp3 and from independent, or even megachain bookstores to Amazon—but continued with an altered discourse that poses really valid questions about the function of criticism. I'll call it "service criticism." In a nutshell, "service criticism" is criticism that's discovery-oriented. Criticism that assumes the reader who is looking for recommendations.

Take Pitchfork, for example. I remember the first time I heard of Pitchfork. I was a teenager and I had a friend who spent his days reading Pitchfork reviews, then (excuse the illegality of the following) downloaded all the albums he thought he'd find interesting in order to listen to them. (The embrace of streaming technologies helps with the legality question today.) That's a great use of criticism: as a direction, pointing to the good in the midst of overproduction.

READ ON »


Rhizome's Spring 2015 Program

(0)

Ben Schumacher, Rebirth of the Bath House, 2014 Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal. Installation view

This spring, we're looking ahead to next year's 20th anniversary, and renewing our consideration of what it means to be a born-digital arts organization.

READ ON »


Feb 22: This is the ENDD, a Forum on the E-Cigarette

(0)

This is the ENDD logo by Nick Bastis
 
 
This event has occurred, for documentation of the entire program click here.
 
NJOYs. Blus. Smokefrees. V2s. All manner of customized vaporizers. This is the moment of the e-cigarette, or more precisely, the Electronic Nicotine Delivery Device (ENDD). Day by day, the broader public is learning (and contesting) what it means to "vape": how one does it, where one can do it, and what it means to do so. As individuals, industries, and governments stumble towards definitions, Rhizome has commissioned a group of artists and critics to present analyses—historical, political, social, anticipatory—of this technology and the discursive field that is emerging around it.

Rhizome is dedicated to art and ideas that create richer and more critical technology cultures. With this program, we continue our examination of influential, technological objects from interdisciplinary points of view, in the context of artistic research practice.

READ ON »


Attention! Criticism and its Distractions

(0)

Rhizome contributor Orit Gat was invited to speak at Frieze Art Fair earlier this month. Audio from the panel, "Attention! Criticism and its Distractions," organized by Brian Dillon, is now available to download on the Frieze Foundation website.

Much of the panel's discussion refers to the essay Gat wrote for Rhizome last spring, "Screen. Image. Text":

The generations to come of age in the days of digital publishing and reading on screens have a much more complicated relationship with images. The human eye-brain system is capable of reading a large number of high quality images in a matter of split seconds, and this, alongside the hand-eye coordination—think about the pleasure of a touch screen versus inky newspaper pages—is rapidly developing to mirror our changing habits of consuming information. So much so that the contemporary heightened sensitivity to the way we read images can lead to an ability to, at times, ignore the quality of the images when inserted into a text, the way our brain glides over a typo in the flow of reading. The way we read images online is only one thing these magazines deal with in the process of publishing, but it is surely an element that dictates a large portion of the reading experience of these publications.

 

The first issue of the Illustrated London News (1842)

The endless discussions on the future of print bring up the contemporary fluency with images on a regular basis. Aside from the fact that digital publishing is often cheaper and always easier to disseminate, many consider the role of the image in digital publishing to be a key aspect in the contemporary experience of reading. The benefits of handheld devices are considered time and again, especially in relation to embedding a variety of image formats: slideshows, moving ...

LINK »