Can You Make It As an Artist in 2018 Without Constantly Plugging Yourself on Instagram?

Excerpt from this article:

It can be bad for art, but it can also be bad for artists. Crespo says Instagram was negatively affecting his spirituality and mental health. The reward systems are addictive. Artist Jake Borndal quit posting to Instagram when he quit smoking. A drug analogy might seem a bit played out, but biologically a “hit” of likes isn’t all that different from a hit of nicotine. When you check your phone, a rush of dopamine floods your brain and that instant gratification can drive compulsive behavior. Social media addiction isn’t a problem for artists alone, but if the role of the artist is to create, share, and contribute beyond existing boundaries, then the question of whether Instagram offers a new way to think or just produces new limits or anxieties is especially critical.

If an artist is supposed to propose new ways of seeing and creating, it’s worrying when social media platforms feel like they’re turning us all into sycophantic clones. Borndal describes Instagram as “an unctuous platform,” with so many “pity likes.” More than just being irritated by the self-promotion and ingratiation, Borndal found that seeing and sharing on Instagram began playing with his conception of the world around him. “I started thinking everyone was thinking the same thing at the same time, that everyone was becoming more similar. It was ultimately diluting my own thoughts.”

Instagram is really “not a creative space,” as Borndal puts it.

Advertisements

Toward a More Radical Selfie

Excerpt from this article:

Maybe selfies are what happen when a society sends a missive without a recipient. Like the interstellar radio broadcast “A Simple Response to an Elemental Message,” which sent human fears about the earth’s environmental destruction out into the universe and toward possible extraterrestrial life, self-portraiture today does not communicate unique truths so much as it reflects collective anxieties. But I don’t mean to bemoan social media (boring, it’s been done, everyone’s worried but no one will change). Really, I want to use that labyrinth to try to find a route back to an entirely different type of self-portraiture, one that offers an alternative (and more positive) interconnection between character, work, and the female subject.

I know such a portrait exists because I’ve seen it. I encountered it in a small gallery at Buckingham Palace, at the Portrait of the Artist exhibition last year. This painting’s texture and dimensionality immediately distinguished it from the rest of the work on display. My instinct was to touch it. What first appeared to be daubs of paint slowly revealed themselves to be stitches. This self-portrait is embroidered—thick, pastel threads so perfectly irregular as to resemble brushstrokes, instantly imprinting the creator’s individuality onto the canvas (or cloth, rather). Those hands, an artisan’s hands, are shown carefully stitching, one red thread looped loosely over the ring finger (married to her work?). What really affected me though, what I found inescapable, was the woman’s expression. She’s smiling, her eyes are bright and calm. She has a charisma that so often resists artistic capture, and her face expresses an internal life as opposed to a superficial character. This is a woman who understood the power of her work and the radical nature of depicting herself doing it. The confidence in her gaze weaves its own kind of spell, creating a sense of the artist regarding herself as she actively constructs her self-image. Enmeshed in that self-image, central to it, is the work. The work of the piece and the work within the piece are indistinguishable.

The Existential Void of the Pop-Up ‘Experience’

Excerpt from this article:

These places are often described as “Instagram Museums,” and the real experience plays out only after we post photographic evidence on social media. The internet is an increasingly visual space, and these museums, with their enormous pools of candy and gargantuan emoji props, are designed to fit the shrunken-down Instagram grid. What’s the point of anything else?

The central disappointment of these spaces is not that they are so narcissistic, but rather that they seem to have such a low view of the people who visit them. Observing a work of art or climbing a mountain actually invites us to create meaning in our lives. But in these spaces, the idea of “interacting” with the world is made so slickly transactional that our role is hugely diminished. Stalking through the colorful hallways of New York’s “experiences,” I felt like a shell of a person. It was as if I was witnessing the total erosion of meaning itself. And when I posted a selfie from the Rosé Mansion saying as much, all of my friends liked it.

Instagram is changing the way we experience art, and that’s a good thing

Excerpt from this article:

Increased visitor photography at galleries and museums has proved controversial at times. Recently a visitor to Los Angeles pop-up art gallery The 14th Factory destroyed $200,000 worth of crown sculptures. The sculptures rested on top of a series of plinths, and while attempting a selfie the visitor fell, knocking the plinths down in a domino style chain reaction.

Banning photography on the basis that it interferes with the visitor’s experience could be seen as cultural elitism; expressing a view that art can only be appreciated in an orthodox manner. It also ignores the potential of Instagram to bring a new dimension to artists, curators, exhibition designers and visitors.

Recent research at Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art Gerhard Richter exhibition showed that visitors use Instagram as part of their aesthetic experience. A number of participants posted Richter’s art works on Instagram creatively immersing themselves in the image, wearing clothes matching the art, and copying Richter’s signature blurred style.

Another study at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ Recollect: Shoes exhibition in Sydney found that audiences used Instagram primarily to engage with exhibition content; not by taking selfies. Visitors mostly photographed the intricate details of the shoes’ design.

This finding was echoed in a larger study that focused on Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Far from the narcissistic selfie-obsessive behaviour that much media coverage insists is occurring, Instagram offers visitors authority and agency in sharing their experience.

This connects audiences with museum content in a way that they can control and is meaningful to them. New research shows how this activity is also tied to place – the museum, and the city beyond it.

Using Instagram in public spaces like museums and galleries is complex. It’s tied to broader research that shows how social media use in public spaces is challenging a range of social norms.

A Starry Night Crowded With Selfies

Excerpt from this article:

The city’s summer tourist season is ending, but visitors still crowd four and five deep in neck-craning hubbubs, brandishing phones to take close-ups and grinning selfies and somehow partake of “Starry Night,” the van Gogh masterpiece at the Museum of Modern Art.

The crowds were ceaseless all summer, as they are much of the year — bobbing, weaving, snapping away, denying quiet contemplation. They puzzle no less an art lover than Ann Temkin, the chief curator of painting and sculpture, who has watched the “crazy magnetism” of the painting and her beloved Vincent grow ever since cameras first appeared on phones.

“It’s as if taking a photo of a work in a museum means ‘seeing’ it to a viewer, even though someone like me worries that taking the photo replaces seeing it in the slow and thoughtful way I would ideally wish,” Ms. Temkin ruefully concedes at the bustling museum. “And the problem with all the photo-takers is that they make it impossible for someone who wants to do that kind of looking to do so.”