The art process and the Web

In The Web and the arts on September 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Following on from one of the discussions in class the other night, when I also found out about the Brooklyn Museum and its wonderful interactivity, I’ve been pondering art a little, in particular visual art.

One of my favourite things about art is not just the beauty of it, but the wondering about how it is done. In particular, I’m always drawn to sketches and studies of works. Perhaps I have this interest because I did art at school and loved it. In fact, at the risk of sounding evangelistic, I think every child and teenager should be encouraged to create art, regardless of their talent for it. This exposure at the very least gives people some basis for assessing the aesthetic value of the art objects they encounter as an adult. It also makes people more open to different kinds of art – where the beauty of an object eludes you, at least you can try to understand the artistry that goes into it and/or the impulse behind it. In fact, this is the way I feel about many artworks. When I was in London around 2000 I was lucky enough to see a fantastic exhibition of Paul Klee. I didn’t find many of the works beautiful, but I loved trying to imagine, and follow their narrative. And, though it’s a cliché, I often find art does reflect life:

Klee, Paul: Twittering Machine (Die Zwitschermaschine) 1922

Image from artchive.

How does all of this relate to the Web? For those adults who were under-exposed to art as children, or discouraged from the close examination of it because their own perceived lack of artistic talent, or for adults like me, who received much encouragement but have still become strangers to the art scene, being able to watch and/or read about the creation of art could be just the thing to help them engage and/or re-engage, and attract them back to galleries. And even if they don’t quite make it to their local museum or gallery (I’d love to go to the NGV this weekend, but a backlog of housework, long-overdue entertaining of friends, and the Writer’s Festival beckon) they can still stay switched on to the possibilities of art.

Contemporary artists seem to be aware of the possibilities multimedia holds for their works. Thanks to our classmate Gemma, who in her August 29 post referred us to the New Museum. The spiel for the museum’s blog, Always Open, by associate curator Jarrett Gregory, sums up exactly how I feel about art, interactive or otherwise, and why it matters:

The blog celebrates being open to experience, from aesthetic sensitivity to intellectual curiosity.

Here is Gregory describing her participation in the work of Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander and forensic sketch artist Bijou called First Love. Not only is this work interactive (visitors to museum could observe the interview process and even ask questions) but it is also collaborative, breaking down the notion of the artist as all-powerful. I’m not sure if this type of work is called conceptual art or performance art, or a combination of the two – perhaps a reader could help with my terminology here – but at any rate, it’s thought-provoking. In embracing interaction with their audiences and other artists, it seems to me that some (many?) modern artists have long been anticipating the interactivity of the Web, and are ideally placed to benefit from the far greater exposure the Web will bring to their works.

Those who are interested in a related theme, the democratisation of art, and the intersection between the Web and art, may be interested to read Marcus Westbury’s blog.

Question time

What about you? How do you feel about art, and has the Web had any effect on your perception of art?

  1. Hmmm, that’s a pretty big question Ms Dzhendigi. Certainly the web has replaced my means of referencing art. Some books are too big and heavy and expensive to keep relevant. But as you elude to, art is by definition wide and all-encompassing and there are some aspects of art that aren’t yet available on the web. I love the immediacy and availability of art on the web, but I look at it briefly and then move on. I look at it longer in a book. I look at it even longer in a gallery or a public space. I would look at it forever on my wall or in my lounge-room or garden. I sometimes go back to it on the web and I sometimes tell someone about it. Hmm. What was the question again?

    • Hey devinegirrl,

      Thanks for commenting, and my apologies for the pretty bigness of the question! Yeah, I don’t tend to look very long at individual works online either. It’s more the interactive things – blogs, videos, and so on – I think the Web has a real advantage in (as well as giving you a kick up the a** to get to the real thing). One thing I like to do in galleries is look at the artist’s brush-strokes – again, it’s being able to glean something about the process that really interests me. Especially as in galleries I often get beauty overload, and want to make the experience a bit more meaningful and real. (Another thing I think would make it more real is high tea. I’m thinking of NGV here. Last time I was there we were all seated, ready for our tea and cakes, when that massive storm struck and the gallery was evacuated.)


  2. High tea at the NGV? I’m so there!

  3. The Internet has paved the way for music and music videos (as art). I am far more exposed to different types of art because it’s free and accessible (I went to a gallery once in my life, and that was to draw inspiration to write my final essay on 18th century romantic poetry…I was desparate). But it hasn’t changed my perceptions on art.

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