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Monday, October 25, 2010

How has the internet influenced your work as a writer or artist?

John Perreault’s Artopia Group on Facebook

June 15 – October 19, 2010

Participants (in order of first appearance):

Cassandra Langer

Grant Hayter-Menzies

A. Kimberlin Blackburn

Leanne Haase Goebel

Matthew Rose

Doctori Sadisco

David Richardson

Linda Mary Montano (poem)

Annette Rose-Shapiro

Jan Harrison

Suzanne Silk

John Perreault Introduction: Writing for the internet has influenced the way I write -- at least for the Internet. I find myself writing into the images, YouTube samples, links, and quotation of relevant chunks of text, sometimes ironically. These simple resources allow information compression and enrichment of the discourse. I see myself as composing multimedia and intertextual essays in a way that print, in spite of footnotes and full-color reproductions, does not allow. A change of degree is a change of kind. Sound files and video clips are game-changers.

Cassandra Langer Of course. I spend half my life responding to e-mail and reconnecting with old friends like you. But other than that I research a lot and am often surprised by what I find that I missed or didn't know about. Love u-tube-access is so much easier and communications more transparent and fluent than before. The ability to pluck images out of the air and in color is sensational and sexy after always having to deal with permissions and the idiots who often control rights and reproductions. So a freeing experience in many ways and a way to get work out despite the gatekeepers.

Grant Hayter-Menzies The internet has enabled me to do several things, quickly and cheaply:
- perform research for which I would have had to travel thousands of miles in the pre-internet age
- locate useful contacts and resources
- send materials instantly without relying on the mail (and in my case, even the USPS is faster than CanadaPost, but the internet is faster than either)
- do all of the above for a fraction of what it all would have cost before the internet existed.

A. Kimberlin Blackburn a blessing and a curse....LOL, i like how i get to see things i'd miss living on an island in the middle of the pacific. new friends on facebook putting up images of shows, fb friending critics & curators to "hear" discussions of art world issues is educational & inspirational. i have to use discipline to not spend time i'd otherwise be making art - that's the draw back. and of course a picture is a "2nd hand experience", so is sending images out as jpegs but curators are asking for the ease of it over slides. there is a huge opportunity for free pr. i feel the benefits far out weigh the drawbacks.

Leanne Haase Goebel Aside from the fact that few pay for work published on the internet and print publications aren't paying much either? I think the biggest influence of the internet is the immediacy. One must write about an idea quickly before it is old news. I also think it provides a freedom to post/publish work that may not fit in a print venue with limited pages and long lead times. I think we also have to say even more with less space, but we have the luxury of plucking images and uploading video to help tell the story.

Matthew Rose Absolutely. As I described, the project A BOOK ABOUT DEATH became a viral social phenomenon thanks to the Internet. We reached so many people in so many countries, the result was truly an international set of exhibitions (the newest one opens in Omaha on July 31) with about 2000 artists participating.

For my own work, ideas flow easily across the net as do images and texts. Rarely do I find myself rapidly looking at so many different artworks in person. The net becomes a massive filter/catalog of past and present, although images on screen tend to flatten everything aesthetically and historically, the advantages are formidable. Remember that only 100 years ago most folks had never seen European Impression outside of magazines. American impressionists picked up and moved to the area around Giverny to soak up the vibes. Now influence is a global phenomenon; you just find the sun in your own backyard and soak that up.

For sales, the Internet has been the most potent way of putting my work in front of interested collectors. An auction of my prints in Florida had folks bidding on them from Europe (where I live) while viewing them on the platform. Even eBay, craigslist, YouTube at the very least put work and ideas out in the world; and while every kind of work is now on a level playing field, without it you can't get your visual ideas seen. My print gallery, does a fantastic job of making my work known, and they do not have any kind of physical exhibition space.

As for writing, sadly I agree with the others here. Magazine and newspaper space is no longer as available to freelancers like myself; and the money has dried up. While writing for art sites on the net is easier, the pay is minimal and the views and response more dispersed. The audience is larger, certainly, but the reaction is diffuse. Jerry Saltz, however, is one art critic/writer who fuses his print life (NY Magazine) with FaceBook and is able to drive a discussion (whatever you many think of it) back and forth. In fact, FB has become a kind of well for Saltz and he seems to be one of the few writers to really embrace the net in terms of reactivity to his ideas and reviews.

The thing is, John, you can't go back...for better or worse, and I think you've clearly grasped that with your discussions.

Cassandra Langer The worse of it for writers who get paid to write is that you don't. It devalues writing by really good and thoughtful writers in favor of quick and superficial. To me that's the biggest drawback. On the other hand, I like that you can have your say without the gatekeepers.

John Perreault Matthew: Like the idea of a gallery without a physical space so checked out Your collages look great! Re: Mr. Saltz, although I sometimes disagree with him, I am a fan. His heart is in the right place and he writes nice... My Artopia stuff on Artsjournal is getting worldwide readers, which I love. And, as I like to say, writing for I now have more readers then I ever did when I wrote for the Village Voice and, guess what, I get paid even less. VV: $10 in '67; AJ: O...Unlike at the Voice, I do get to choose the pictures, the typeface and everything else.....In terms of the Internet, I am afraid we CAN go back --- think of having to pay 99 cents for every article in the N.Y.Times or wherever. Think of China stopping Google. We CAN go back; but who would want to? Back to what? Artforum and the New York Review of Books. I don't think so.

Sandy: No one every was paid very much anyway. Why do you think I had to teach and then go on to arts administration and such? In terms of valuing good and thoughtful writers, I don't think print did such a good job either. And as you admit we can now say what we want.

Cassandra Langer No argument there, John. If we expected to get paid we never would have been art critics. At least I make some money with print now after years of unpaid work for Woman's Art Journal. I too, had to teach in a place that was anything but receptive to new art. If I had not had the Winston-Salem connection I would have had to go to Atlanta and/ or D.C. or NYC to do any work. Moreover, when I moved to NYC after giving up tenure at U of South Carolina the freelance scene was pretty hairy too. So I know what you are talking about. Had I not taken an Appraisal Certification after getting here I probably would have been sitting on the curb with a tin cup--but I would have had lots of company. Now I'm finally finishing up on my Romaine Brooks book and doing what I love---writing, reviewing and having a life. I know you and Jeff are doing much the same. Thanks to the net we have presence and a following without having to kiss ass and roll over. And, we are absolutely never going back! Still I wish we could get the $1.00 a word writers hoped for back then. Writing for trade has also dropped off fee-wise so if you want to write--write for yourself and your following which you are doing.

Doctori Sadisco Here is what a friend had to say about the subject of the internet:

"I am of two minds about the Internet generation. I work with them every day so I know how shallow their knowledge-base is. I suppose the medieval Scholastic philosophers felt the same way about the Renaissance. Things turn over completely and knowledge is lost, at least for a time. They don't feel the need to internalize their knowledge since information is more accessible to them. They are obsessed with methodology at the expense of knowledge and understanding."

I think this has led to a generation which is in a real sense abstracted from literature. Where you and I might have a passion for modern poets, and can write experimentally, I sense their lack of interest in such matters.

So it affects me this way - I find myself part of an elite group of people who remain in touch with the idea of lineage and the thread that weaves us to a broad picture of the world and also of inner experience. Whether that means experiment with writing or with entheogens.

I find myself mocking the banality of such internet spaces as Facebook, and also understand how the language of the WWW has added to our palette. I feel today as did the early surrealists that utilizing the language of current times is important. If the knowledge I have and which I deeply feel and hold a connection to, is not among them, now I pray it will be in the future. Still I find talent on line, and it is not always recognized by the old school poets and writers, scholars and critics who abound in magazines and have books out.

Soon paper may be a thing of the past, and every person who wants to read will have something like an iPad. It may help the trees, but will it add to the crap we dump and from which its batteries will poison the world?

There are other ways I am affected by the internet in my writing, as access to my writing could never have produced nearly 39,000 hit sas it does today on my blog on Myspace. I hate words such as blog, and could never have hated such a word before the advent of the internet. But the difference between how many people may have read a poem of mine in, lets say, The World, St. Marks Poetry Project circa 1965, or today, staggers the imagination.

I also want to add that those of us who grew up before the advent of the World Wide Web and internet tend to embody knowledge. My intention through reading was to hold this knowledge within myself and express it to others. The internet tends toward methodology such as to how to run a game, and does not lend itself to internalization of knowledge, because of the sense that 'I will have any information I choose at my fingertips, so I do not need to embody or emotionalize it.' Information remains outside the mind and body to be accessed at will. I love what I read and I also love what I write. I love the act of writing a good poem. The internet doesn't force me to or cater to its charm and whims, but it beckons me to partake. My ace in the hole is that I have access to all that I have read through, scoured, been entranced by in my home and most of it would be called modern poetry, some books on art, some on media, but most are within the study of the psychic. over forty years worth. The internet becomes a new vehicle for what stories i have to tell, what poems I have to share. Has it changed my thinking, altered my writing skill? No. Has
it enabled me to buy books cheaply? Yes. Has it introduced me to new ideas? Yes.
Is everybody suddenly writing like e. e. cummings using only the small "i?" and no capitalization? yes.

Cassandra Langer Well said Sadisco and the dance goes on. I wonder how today's poetics will benefit from the short-hand of the net? I have yet to master all of them and confess to no real wish to do so. I am a lurker, watcher, always curious as to what's next in this brave new world of ours-I wonder about the wonders it has yet to treat us to. For myself, I am hopelessly in love with this denigrated culture of ours-western-unpacked and despite the critique still filled with awesome and wondrous gifts that I could not live with out and revisit frequently. The music, art, literature poetry and, Yes, the humanities that lack the methodologies that now make this insane world of ours go round. How are we to teach respect for all sentient beings, for life--hell for even having a life. My question remains in the midst of Sex and the City, etc. what are the values that make life worth living. Keep it simple as life is complex enough without making it complicated with nothingness (although some Buddhists would disagree). Nothingness is everythingness is nothingness which is the good thing!! Blake would say without desire we are nothing. I tend to agree. Good criticism, writing, poetry is about somethingness that desires being surprised, delighted and swept away. I truly hope that these do not disappear into the cheap and empty stuff that passes for writing and art on the internet a great deal of the time. The real deal being Cummings in his small room had a great deal to say--small i and all.

Doctori Sadisco Hi, Cassandra! I like to ask what people think the future will be like for the internet? Where is it headed? We could discuss the nature of this short-hand and its significance
to us as a civilization, since it is now part of the way people being brought up today think. How has it affected the way we project our thoughts to others? I think that as we head into faster and faster kinds of communication we are actually heading toward a future period of electronically based telepathy. Internet short-hand seems to rooted to the trivial as we project ordinary thoughts by thumbing tiny keypads. My vision is that eventually everyone will be sharing their most trivial thoughts instantaneously. This will yield the invention (already in existence) in which thoughts are transferred by choice from brain to brain.

David Richardson I like what Sadisco says about holding knowledge. That's what I look for on the web - the knowledge that people carry and express, and in a sea of triviality and superficial dreck, it's a thrill to come across real voices and real knowledge and experience. What would Andy say? In the future everyone will have their own glossy magazine?

Designer Issey Miyake, who never designed anything ordinary in his life, said this about his goals as a designer:

“I don’t design anything special. I’m often represented as inventing these unusual designs, when in fact I try to stay as far away from the ...unusual, the odd, as possible. It is the challenge of the age”, he says, “to maintain ordinary sensibilities.”

I'm always aware of the dreck, so I try to write as carefully as possible and to maintain those ordinary sensibilities. I appreciate family and friends all the more and try to live a local life with real people. I think of Wendell Berry and Wharton Esherick.

Doctori Sadisco Hi, David and Cassie and any others returning to read through this. It'd be nice if this discussion actually continued.

I can recall being around fourteen or so and hearing on TV that the advent of the computer would change everything for people world-wide. It would provide encyclopedic knowledge, making available all information on all subjects for everyone. I recall how excited I was by that. So I was among the first on my block to get a Mac when the screens were still gray and all-the-info-in-the-world was in typeface.

I remember writing directly into a window for the news group rec.arts.poems and getting feedback about how bad my spelling was and that there was no such thing as an "off-rhyme." (Such and Hush?) Then came a colorful interface through, was it Netscape? Things moved rapidly from that point on.

There came into being a new kind of neighborhood. The virtual neighborhood. Where you can join a semi-private group who were speaking about topics interesting to themselves. Entheogens was one such area I explored. I found myself having conversations with many kinds of minds. Some egotistical, some compassionate, some dogmatic, some open as the wind itself. There was always someone poisoning the barrel with pettiness, just like the street on which I live.

But something else was occurring. This had to do with the presentation internationally of a global consensus about the nature of human behavior and its consequences for life on Earth. There arose in me a hope for the future of humankind. It seemed as though not just all knowledge for all time was being made available, but that the ability to communicate world-wide with other souls who were in agreement about the most pressing issues had come into being.

This was a layer of this new phenomena called the Web. It was understood that the entire system is built upon a military network and that privacy was basically a moot point, it could no longer exist. That every keystroke of every human being using the internet was tallied statistically by the military of many nations, and that trends were being predicted from the information gathered.

I chose not to care. Thinking that what I have to say they can learn from. These new interfaces such as came to fruition via cellphone technology placed all-knowledge for all time at our fingertips regardless of location, other activity, triviality, importance, crisis and whatever else. So let the corporations, the governments, the military industrial complex look all they want. They enjoy control, fine, then let them do a better job of executing (their word) well-being for all life and all people.

A global mind. A web of electrical fibers and energy waves connecting us all is in its infancy. It is an infancy of a technology and that infancy is in the hands of an entity which can best be seen as a young teenager (humanity.) We have not arrived at the gate of the utopian future I perceive ahead. But I sense the potential of a kind of virtual sharing of what we are, brutal, ugly, selfish, unwinding toward kindness, beautiful, empathic beings of a universal mentality.

Cassandra Langer But not the Borg-I trust----wouldn't it be nice if we could dispense with the so-called world leaders and simply have a consensus that we won't pollute, we will help create sustainable economies for all and live in peace and harmony. Dream on but why not!

Doctori Sadisco Such a dream must become the reality. It seems to be the most improbable scenario imaginable but...... any obstruction to its completion is contemptible.

David Richardson It certainly does seem improbable. I had an exchange this morning that ties in with these thoughts. I've been at a Furniture Society conference for the past 4 days being held at MIT in Cambridge, Ma. I met a friend early and we decided to get some breakfast things at a small market in the student union to take outside. Beebe was on line with an Indian looking gentleman in front of her and one in back. I walked up and asked if the gent behind would mind if I joined my friend on line. He said no, but would we mind if he joined his friend who was the guy in front of Beebe. So we shuffled around and then all looked at each other, laughed, and agreed it was a wash - equal and fair and to everyone's benefit. The guy said, wouldn't be nice if all the world's problems could be solved so easily. It was amusing and being at MIT, I imagined that these guys maybe were actually working on the world's problems.

John Perreault I am amused by Doctori Sadisco's story about early internet use. His "feedback" stating there was no such thing as off-rhyme (e.g. "such" and "hush") is the kind of half-truth that the internet can sponsor. It is no secret that, for instance, Wikipedia (written by all) can be wrong; the next step to take is to understand that even old-fashioned encyclopedias can be wrong, are wrong, etc. I don't know who put the whammy on off-rime, but of course there is off-rhyme; please take a good look at Emily Dickinson. Also, I'd like to comment on David Richardson even imagining that "these guys maybe were actually working on the world's problems" because they were at M.I.T. If anything, they were probably creating more problems. I am not quite sure how all this relates to how the internet may have influenced how we now write or make art, but it is very interesting indeed that on Facebook, of all places, we have an art historian, a poet, and a furniture artist sharing their thoughts. What will this lead to?

Cassandra Langer What already exists here. A meeting of minds who actually think and process. Isn't that what John Dewey meant by the LIFE of the mind. I agree with John that MIT types are probably creating more problems than they are solving. G-d knows this has been true in art given the October group and their will to world domination (just joking seriously). Nevertheless, dear ole Facebook is a kind of global meeting ground where we can air old and new and all possible worlds. That can't be a bad thing and who knows what may grow out of this soil? At MIT - like the Holiday Inn Express ads. The parable of the checkout line. Anyway, next year's conference is in Vegas.

Doctori Sadisco First, Mr. Perreault: Yes I was told there was no such thing as an end-rhyme which could be "off." But I had on-hand my Poetry Handbook! (Since lost!)

Wikipedia: Here is an example of why scholastic knowledge is important as one can be misled on the internet easily and become the dupe who transforms history inadvertently.

Influence of any of this on my writing: Yes and no. The world wide web is dizzying in its scope. It contains lies, half-truths, opinions given as fact, taste given as dogmatic certainty, and the internet can be a barometer of the heart, soul and mind of man, for those with the ability to see it.

My writing is influenced by these issues as I often write about it, and it has shaped my thinking and what I desire from a poem. The effect it might have. The proverbial hammer blow it might deliver, the shaping or transforming element which may or may not penetrate the thickest mind-set.

The idea that the internet can allow a poet, art historian, and furniture artist sharing thoughts, is functionally identical to sitting at Cafe Figaro on Bleecker Street around 1964, in fact, it is thus for any place I have had such dialogues in the past.

On line, however, words and opinions seem to have become misleading. How often has any of us experienced being completely misread by someone we were joking with on line? Suddenly there is the explosion of anger, or emotional wounding from a thought expressed which intended only the friendliest meaning?

Without the cues of natural expression one must be careful how to present one's thought or there might be trouble.

As for the original high-schoolish query, "How has the internet affected my writing,"
isn't it in the very permutations of processing this among our peers which is in itself the shaping force of the internet upon our writing?

Lastly, to me the internet represents an encapsulation of the society at large. How many pools of thought and influence exist on line where each of us on John's list do not go and feel we do not belong? The internet seems to be a collection of pockets or pools of thought in which people in agreement on some topic or issue can gather and feel at ease to communicate their opinions to one another. Whether these are hate groups, artist groups, styles of music, M.I.T. physicists,

One thing I refuse to participate in is role playing. However, we do that unconsciously, even here. So John Perreault, poet, etc. Could you embellish upon how the internet has influenced your writing? Has it changed the way you present your thoughts when you write into Images, Youtube and the like?

Perreault: Yes. [Added later.]

Doctori Sadisco. Cassandra, Yes. What exists here is exactly as you describe. In an ocean of human minds a few can find in each other, briefly, a glimpse of the possible. I am more aligned with the possible than the improbable. I believe there are some at M.I.T. who delve into the methodologies for badder bombs, but isn't Noam Chomsky also at M. I. T? He used to be anyway. There's the scale again. Some good, some bad, just like us. Dear old Facebook seems to have exploded on its own in popularity. To me it is kind of the story of Beta versus VHS tape. The Beta was a much better product, but we went for the regular VHS tape perhaps due to promotion? Myspace versus Facebook? Myspace is graphically far superior. It's interface works really well. It lends itself to poets who want to "Blog" there. Facebook requires the loss of form if it is of an unusual style - let's say sentences stepped down like stairs. It'll throw it all to the left margin, making it into a column. It is an issue of formatting. Myspace holds the poems' true form. But everyone is over on Facebook, just the same, yakking about blueberry muffins (Mmmm) and what they are doing for dinner. My writing? It goes to Myspace, not Facebook. That is one influence - er, John?

Cassandra Langer Mutations---I'll have to try Myspace again---Twitter, whatever floating crap game is in town. I like the "sentences stepped down like stairs" nice turn of a phrase, Doc. Frankly all of it takes time that could be spent writing, painting, etc. I too am curious as to how John's writing, criticism has been ignited or transformed by all these open spaces even with various boundaries that do fence you in. I don't think it is cafe life on Bleecker or elsewhere as I don't have to buy the glass of wine or whatever and I can still afford the pleasure of the chat.

Doctori Sadisco Better than a coffee house? You are right, when I look at it that way. I can be wolfing down whatever I want from the fridge right now and having this nice chat with completely unknown entities. Am I really a Doctori Sadisco, born unto those infamous Sadiscos? I'm not, of course. It is a Nom De Plume brought about by a joke with my ex girl-friend while she still lived. So it stuck, more as a homage to our friendship which outlasted our girlfriend-boyfriend status. Here on line we talk in a sense of sharing which goes beyond personal boundaries and identity. Is this important? Or is it like meetings on a Greyhound bus with someone you will never again be involved with?

Who are you? Who am I? Who is John Perreault? Who is David Richardson? Why are we even bothering with this discussion? Wanna know how we each are influenced by the internet - in our writing, lives, thinking, trust, allegiances? Here we are, strangers on a keypad, writing into a space defined by ones and zeros, and which cannot be fathomed by any of us. Half truths are merely our opinions taking form, and that is good, not bad. I am glad you and David are here and that John stimulated this. I like these kinds of pastimes.

Cassandra Langer So when it the "re-union" going to take place? Face to face is better, of course. The visuals always add depth and dimensions not available on line but short of this I have found an active community here. And I can communicate day and late into the night after work is finished and inspiration wrung out---without traveling to the city as I live in Jackson Heights, NY and like to have the travel time to work and think. We are strung all over the place and this little cyberspace allows for a wider reach and interesting minds that I would probably never come in contact with. Many of my Manhattan friends are soooo provincial. Queens is a continent away and yet they travel to continents for "experiences" and profit next to nothing if you know what i mean. It always amazes me. And, John you may recall that you and Jeff told me when I left my tenured position at South Carolina that I had to be in Manhattan. I didn't understand exactly why at the time. Of course, I do understand the limitations posing as sophistication now---but I did move into Manhattan and got the picture. Now I don't need or care.

John Perreault Trying to catch up with the discussion: The internet has certainly influenced the way I present my thoughts -- writing into images, etc. But more importantly there are ways in which it has changed the thoughts themselves. Writing into images is not neutral. It might be like writing a poem after you have selected the illustration. It jars and unsettles the mind a bit. And as the format I use on Artopia --- I can now track it by going back in the archive -- has changed, so have I. I suspect that my idea of picturing art history as a braid rather than as a staircase or even a helix -- an idea that I found I shared with my new internet friend, artist, art historian, and art critic Mark Staff Brandl, who (how internet!) lives in Switzerland and teaches in Lichtenstein -- may have been inspired by the internet and the kinds of complexities and multiplicities that can happen. For instance, you can, if you want, see several texts and/or images simultaneously.

I have always been drawn to counterpoint and polyphonic music whether Baroque or jazz and for awhile (actually since the '60s) have been experimenting with multiliniar verse and even prose. A novel I have been working on the last five years is decidedly polyphonic. Now I find that what I have allowed myself to do on Artopia is related to both my poetics and my view of art history: I braid. I interweave at least three themes/subjects/exhibits in each essay. Sometimes more than three. I assemble the text from three or more strands. The blocks of text are not usually written in the order of their final presentation. And, as I have already hinted, I usually have the "illustrations," links, and YouTube videos selected in advance.

When I was the art critic for the Village Voice in its Golden Years there were two irritations: 1) the staff photographer chose the photographs and they never referred to what I was writing; 2) the editor came up with the headlines, often absurd. Now I choose my own photographs and come up with my old headlines. I have as much or more readership now than I did then --- and it is worldwide -- and I get paid even less.

Not understanding that the first person pronoun is the easiest way to create a persona, Voice readers would tell me they felt they really knew me because of my columns. The link to readers is much more direct on the internet than the link created by newspapers. This has nothing to do with back-and-forth entries or blogging as it is usually thought of. In fact, I do not allow comments on Artopia on the site itself. I don't think what we are doing here now on this Facebook discussions wall is blogging per se either. I don't know what it is.

In terms of my own art, I am mostly doing circumambulations now rather then physical artworks, using documentation of the kind that You-Tube or allow or no documentation at all. And, oh, yes, pretty much have given up the idea of a book or books of collected art criticism, since it is likely that everything on the internet will continue to be saved in some "cloud" forever and be available to all. There are some dead spots I need to work on -- much of my writings on art for the Village Voice and then the Soho News is still not easily accessible -- but everything on Artopia is archived on Artopia (i.e. and can be Googled and I recently discovered all of Artopia on, a nonprofit that aims to archive every website that does not forbid "spiders."

Also, in case you missed the news in April, Twitter has donated its entire archive of tweets, along with continuous updates, to the Library of Congress, where after a six-month embargo all contents will be available to "qualified researchers." Apparently the entire archive is already available through Google, but I haven't figured how to access it. Actually, I haven't even figured out the best way to use those 140 character, public "telegrams" yet. Yoko Ono has; she has 908,419 "followers."

Time, place and space are destroyed. Self-publishing is no longer anathema. And this is just the beginning. In coffeehouses now people sit in front of their Apple portables and sip really expensive coffee. Even at the old poet's hangout Veselka in the East Village I saw three young people at a table with their portable computers open: two guys and a girl. They were waiting for the fourth, who did finally arrive --- with her computer. She barely said hello before she started logging something or another. They ordered food, date and all four stayed on their computers the whole time, not once talking to each other. I still wonder if they were communicating with others elsewhere or just communicating with each other via computer although they were all sitting at the same table.

David Richardson I think the braid as a way of understanding art history is brilliant and useful. Having first learned of it on Artopia, I'm now good internet friends with Mark Staff Brandl and his own flavor and approach to his art and writing has added to my understanding. It occurs to me that this concept could reflect an evolution in thinking well suited to the information environment of the internet age. I believe I'm using this insight in my furniture designs. I thought of it as cubist influenced at first, but I believe it's also braid theory in action. The last piece I completed I titled "Views of the Hozu River" and it is both a functional cabinet and a kind of 3 dimensional painting. I combined painting, silkscreen, intarsia panels (like inlay, though with larger sculptural elements), and the form itself, though derived from a classic New England examples, was developed with layers of reference (in the details of moldings, turnings, proportions, techniques), so it becomes a reflection on historical work. And it isn't like I had this idea and then executed it. It developed slowly through the design and making process over several years and a number of pieces, and the results have been a surprise to me in many ways. So I guess I can say my furniture design has changed as a result of the internet. Of course it could be that it's just a confused piece of work with too many references, but I truly think I'm channeling a thinking process that is different and is a result of the environment.

And by the way, there's a new exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Ma. called “The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft,”, curated by Fo Wilson. There are objects with video screens in them, and objects that explore digital information in interesting ways, like Sonya Clark's large image of a face made by nothing but simple combs where teeth have been removed to create the image. There are basket like structures that use online data as their starting point (my first impression was that these were effective formally but had little to do with digital information). I've seen the show once but would like to go back and explore it again in light of this discussion. I think some of the responses are very literal and traditional, but others could reflect some new directions in thinking based on the digital and internet environment.

Linda Montano

First Poem by Linda Montano:


Admittedly we are all sensing a pre-renaissance black-out, a "dark age" with recognizable and historically accurate symptoms witnessed by historians of the fall (and/or transformation) of other dynasties teetering on the brink of armageddon.(The Roman ,Ottoman, German, British Empires perchance?)


Can't we all agree that in this 21st century, we are communally experiencing a bad taste and aftermaths from universally experienced phenomena such as:


Financial fumblings, cultural buffooneries, pervasive paranoia, modified mea culpas, bipartisan shenanigans, uncompassed morality, bipaped starvations, political circus acts, theological tsunamis, global tamperings, cyclical catastrophes, faux apologies, misleading marketing, conspicuous consuming, muddled multitasking, apocalyptic battering, padded documenting, salted wounding, power shifting, self loathing, hierarchical covering, pious grandstanding, spasmed tremoring, bankrupted dreaming, disintegrated remembering, virtual relating, techno crazing, outrageous compensating, congressional bullying and foreclosed trust!


Diseased despondents, surrendered suicidals, unheld newborns, hooded jihadists, fundamental fanatics, antsy therapists, inattentive nannies, selfish narcissists, bonused buddies, media darlings, unconscienced thieves, suffocating egoists, discarded seniors, trafficked innocents, self inflicting terrorists, vulnerable victims, jolly junkies, over dutiful daughters, celebrity addicts, killer drones, spiritual materialists, scheming CEOs, interminable visitors, jealous sisters, stubborn students, lying boasters, ungrateful patients, cyber bullies, skeletoned anorexics, emotional mutes, nasty narcissists and miserable millionaires!


Creepy oppressors, hypersexual prowlers, Holocaust deniers, death cheaters, begging borrowers, scud sharp shooters, carbon foot printers, attention mongers, greedy brokers, depressed designers, public apologizers, prepared preppers, subcutaneous cutters, sophomoric obsessors, inappropriate responders, furious professors, tormenting victimizers, parent starvers, neurotic neighbors, reputation slanderers, magnetic womanizers, surprise attackers, glad handers, halitosed dancers, grid locked commuters, grieving skaters, arrogant outsiders, soul sellers, gift refusers, aggressive reporters, sloppy visitors, pill stealers, animal abhorrers, hate disseminators, stinky passengers, authority balkers, sloppy foodmakers, name callers, energy suckers, germ spreaders, information secretors, junk hoarders, saccrine sympathizers, sweaty hand shakers, misguided worshippers, internet scammers, morphed murderers, obese outsiders, child abusers, frozen floormatters, dysfunctional reconfigurers, beauty kidnappers, unread biographers, gender assaulters, monumental mistakers, satanic afflicters, silent contemptors, counterindicated elders, hungry survivors, childhood stealers, guilted enjoyers, ponzi schemers, medical compromisers, careless caregivers, enraged partners, jailed minors, paralyzed players, unemployed loners, adulterous trespassers, vaccinated teenagers, double crossed informers, technological traumatizers, disabling humiliators, monetary misusers and nose pickers!


Oh, our poor bodies/minds are dodging the toxic arrows of it all! Dodging thoughts about pcb's and thoughts of no more potable water or no more fish or ice-sliding-glaciered polar bears! Thoughts about what to do about our arthritic thumbs twittered to spasm. Thoughts about ourselves and the suffering others! Not only thoughts but also memories of once looking in the mirror at our faces sweetly smiling back with innocent anticipation of a McDonalds. NO MORE. In preparation for a post-modern re-look at Revelationed-robotization, our current faces are facebooked/addicted into social shyness, not to be relieved by a 1970's Kumbayaah singing picnic on a green, chemical free lawn. That chapter is closed, my friend.

Now, our poor bodies, steel-tight with earthquaked fear of the next day's news or trembling over the calories and sugar content of the morning's Starbucks or tripping out of buildings quickly when rumblings at yet another fault-line are recognized by sensitive dogs,....our battered bodies.... run on PTSD/empty seeking refuge in second-lifed, C-PAPED-accompanied nightmares.


But wait, out of this harrowing scenario of a reality show gone bad, comes Hope?


LINDA MARY MONTANO, 2010 Saugerties, NY

Doctori Sadisco This poem I can truly appreciate. Thanks for sharing it. To me this represents a real purposeful use of the internet. That we can say these things, show how fully aware we are, and impress those with like minds. Maybe create waves with those who disagree.

I find myself writing and reading about life beneath the heel of general world-wide oppressiveness and befuddlement. John, I feel the ominous portent of a dark period for us, and as you and so many others suggest, it is a cycle of history. An end and a beginning.

This whole Maya thing impresses me by how horrified people are about what might take place in 2012. A shift of the poles - for instance. What my hope for the future of humanity is that we learn the lesson of Empathy once and for all. Yet it is apparent to most of us that unlearning selfishness seems impossible.

Frank O'Hara pointed out that we band together in states of emergency. Such as the Gusher in the Gulf. Many kinds of issues get temporarily set aside, like racism, to save the shores, or with Katrina, to save other humans. We have no idea about how many heroic acts occurred, but will dote negatively on how many cruel acts went down.

I have a glimmer of hope. I see that this period is a bust, and my hope is that the process of embracing empathy will come later - in a hundred years maybe. Then, again, who knows? If we still exist as a species maybe we'll be the Borg?

Two of you broached the idea of weaving and braiding in your perception. That friend I first quoted just completed a book now available from FONS VITAE Press.
It is called "The Thread-Spirit, The Symbolism of Knotting and the Fiber Arts by Mark Siegeltuch.

Tuck, as we like to call him has spent years studying the work of Carl Schuster and Ananda K. Coomaraswamy whose research this book is based upon. Knotting, Braiding, weaving, designing, all come from very ancient humanity. He described this to me as the first language of a universal nature among human beings. That in ancient times the clothes we wore expressed our genealogy and eventually became the symbolic system of spiritual states as well. One example is the tracing of the idea of an Axis Mundi, to early string drills which have exactly the same form as depicted in the larger poles and dancers in folk traditions. Anyway, i suggest this book. Mark considers it to be the greatest story never told.

David Richardson Beautiful poem. Here's mine for the 21st c. ---somewhere between a Japanese tea bowl and Cy Twombly.

Annette Rose-Shapiro The internet has given me access to jobs that I wouldn't have found otherwise. I edited a website for an entrepreneur in Hong Kong, wrote a chapter on the Le Marche region of Italy for a guide book published in New Zealand, wrote two e-books for a company in Canada, etc. Also, I can easily do research that would have been impossible, geographically or time-wise. I haven't yet had any projects writing for actual websites that has changed my style of writing or forced me to learn SEO. More importantly, the internet provides a chance to launch an e-zine that would have been cost-prohibitive to print.

Doctori Sadisco Hello Annette Rose-Shapiro! Italian food, Mmmm! zooming around the world via internet! e-zine? which e-zine? can i submit poems? can i subscribe? is it free? free free frreeee?

John Perreault Thank you Doctori Sadisco for The Thread Spirit tip. Will try to locate book. David, I clicked through to your "poem." Looks great....Hi, Annette....

Jan Harrison Yes...The internet has affected and influenced my work as an artist.... Since 2009 I have been working on "The Corridor Series," over sixty pastel on paper paintings of Primates, and other animals. As the works on paper continued, I posted many of the images on my website and on Facebook. Seeing them all together, I realized how one animal image changed slightly to become the next one, and the next one, and on and on. I am planning to combine them in a video, as one figure becomes the next, and they go through a metamorphosis.

"Animal Tongues," a language I speak and sing, has been recorded and included in videos with my visual art. I perform it with animal sculpture heads. It has been videotaped, and is shown online in various blogs, on Facebook, on a gallery website, and on my website.

For over a year I have been posting thoughts on Facebook, and they have become verbal art pieces in some ways. For instance, for months I posted: "Jan Harrison is an animal.... and ...." including different statements about being an animal, some humorous and some serious..

Through Facebook, blogs, and other avenues on the internet I've been able to meet many people, and have developed friendships in various countries all over the world. Also, I have been able to become more active in causes I care about. It is easier to meet, communicate, and to make a difference.

In my art using my hands, and caressing the surface, is very important, to allow the Beings to emerge. It is very non-tool oriented...just using my hands. I like being able to combine technology with paintings and sculpture, being able to connect opposites in a sense, by combining the works with aspects of technology, to create ways to show it on the web.

Suzanne Silk I spend more time creating on the computer than on the easel... my hands + feet stay much cleaner...

Jan Harrison Suzanne, Hands + feet stay much cleaner on the computer, that's for sure! I spend more time on the computer than I used to......I know you were not using the term 'easel' literally, but your comment reminded me...I work on the floor, not on a table, and not on an easel. I've always worked on the floor.....The video I mentioned earlier has been completed, of the pastels of the primates moving and changing.

Suzanne Silk Hi Jan...there is intelligent life on the internet, after-all.
Will look at those pastels.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Discussion: Have you ever experienced the MoMA Syndrome?

John Perreault’s Artopia Group on Facebook

June 1 - August 12, 2010

Participants (in order of first appearance):

Siri Smedvig
Lori Ellison
Joan Coderre
Carol Setterlund
Charles Vincent
William Warmus
Melissa Stern
Nathan Mason
Manon Cleary
Barbara Grossman
Jill Conner
Richard Minsky
Ken Turner
David Richardson
Saint-Clair Cemin
Ellen Wallenstein
Doctori Sadisco
Antonio Petracca

John Perreault Named after the novelist who first described it, the Stendahl Syndrome is symptomatic of cultural overload: Florence is too much; so some tourists swoon and faint. According to the Wikipedia expert (s) symptoms include “dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art.”

The Paris Syndrome, in a way its opposite, effects tourists to the French capitol who are disappointed with the real City of Light as opposed to the one they know from photos and films: too much garbage and, oh, mon Dieu, McDonald’s on top of everything else; I think I’ll faint – or throw up.

And now we have the MoMA Syndrome, first identified by John Perreault on Artopia. Viewers suddenly feel dizzy and nauseous when the art they have learned to love through reproductions, art history slide shows, PowerPoint presentations, and Google Images turns out, when seen at MoMA or elsewhere –i.e. in real life -- not to live up to the gloss.

Have you ever experienced the MoMA Syndrome? Please describe. Now that we have the theory, we need to collect some facts. But more importantly, is there a preventative or an antidote? Should all images come with warnings labels?

Siri Smedvig My first experience of this was not disappointment but an ah hah--what is seen as mere image does not equate to viewing the real McCoy. The Mona Lisa was my first ah hah (and that was before the more recent layers of protection added!) when I realized (surprised at her scale) that the potency from a painting comes not from its size but its energy & spiritual force & mystery palpable when viewing in person. I have found this to hold true with many many paintings--especially leaping to mind--any Agnes Martin, Bill Jensen, Kurt Schwitters.......I have this same experience hearing live music vs. a recording in fact. The recording may have a perfected polish of sound with complete accuracy of notes/musicality etc. but lacks the visceral impact of a live performance. But I think this is a common sensibility?

Lori Ellison The new Moma is problematic, trying to see around people taking picture on their cellphones or twittering - not to mention the architecture and the devolving bookstore into a garden variety gift shop. but still a lot to love in encounters with artworks in the flesh.

Joan Coderre I need to see the "real" thing. The Tate, The Louvre, MoMA, etc. etc. etc. I need the experience of walking into that space-that particular architectural domain. Each gallery space which all of these pieces "communicate" a particular style, subject matter. I find it quite interesting -how the mind of the curator created particular exhibits.
.....My folks always took me to various museums in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut ever since I was a small child. With that in mind, looking at the real thing is extremely a powerful experience for me. For me that is the only way the soul of the artist can sing and dance.

Carol Setterlund I've experienced the MoMA syndrome both as disappointment and as an 'ah ha' moment. When I saw Hopper's paintings in the 'real', I was disappointed and wanted them much bigger. And, after years of looking at reproductions of Nevelson's sculpture and wondering what the big deal was, I saw a multi room show at the Phoenix Art Museum of her work. The real thing was a revelation. I have no solutions to the problem beyond perhaps being aware that it exists.

Charles Vincent Reduction (and the less frequent enlargement) although technologically straightforward, is still a strange and magical process. Most art images reproduced in print or electronic media are reduced. If you have seen it reduced first, the actual object must have enough presence of its own to overcome the removal of the reduction magic. Imagine a child entranced by a train set, able shrink and enter the train set, and then being lost in a rather bland and average city, walking along weedy fences and windy trestles longing to feel the return of the magic. Is it still there somewhere?

Siri Smedvig "What is small is not small in itself, just as that which is great is not-great." ~Rilke
I agree that work reads big and clear only if formally working- whatever its scale in actuality. When viewing an image in reproduction one's imagination needs dimensions for guidance or else incorrect leaps may occur. Schwitter's collages, many quite tiny, may be interpreted as large scale works viewed in reproduction (likewise Indian miniatures.) Both will read "big" in any imaged rendition.
I find the magic exists in our ability to enter the "world" of the art. Hopefully one's imagination remains active for this magic forever. The added stimulation of the senses (synesthesia is potent force) when viewing art without intermediary translation (either reduction or enlargement) --directly viewing the surface touched by artist's hand--helps me to feel the energy of the object/painting. So I vote Yes-imagination is a powerful force--still there!

John Perreault So far, so good. Some respondents relate genuine MoMA Syndrome experiences -- that awful, sinking feeling when confronted with the source of a revered image. Others rally with the reverse -- tales of the Ah-Ha Effect when the physical artwork outdistances its reproductions.

I propose now that the physical artwork, if it exists, is more like the manuscript of a play and not the play or like the negative (when there were such) and not the photo. The manuscript can disappear but as long as there is at least one script remaining there can be the play -- if and when it is performed.

Whether or not we like it, the next step will be taken. Art will become images without originals. This is not to say that art museums will cease to exist. The art of the past will still be preserved and in some instances exhibited, most likely in the form of replicas -- since if these are stolen or damaged, there is not much financial loss.

Since my invention of the MoMA Syndrome is Swiftian, the real issue may not be the familiarity that breeds disappointment or false expectations, but something else entirely. If aura is truly the distinguishing characteristic of art, can aura migrate from an original to a replica, from pigment on canvas to an image of same? What do we have the right to expect from art?

The images we see of Anne Truitt's painted columns are better than the actual works. Doesn't it then behoove us to think of the images as the artwork and the actual columns as merely the props for the photo-op?

William Warmus I supervised the unwrapping of Anne Truit's Bonne (1963) when I was the advisor to the Clement Greenberg estate and we were preparing the works in his collection for viewing by the Portland Museum advisors and director. The sculpture had been in storage for many years.

Although many works were in the Central Park West apartment, many were also in the art warehouse. It was a delight to see the perfect state of the Truitt, to examine (and yes touch!) the surfaces. This sense of sheer survival and the fragility of the artwork are difficult to reproduce in an image. This doesn't mean that the so-called aura can not be reproduced. It just means that we can not yet reproduce it.

And by the way, as a scuba diver who writes about the ocean as a work of art, I have yet to see a photo of a shark that is better or more thrilling than an actual underwater encounter with a shark. Sharks are not yet props.

John Perreault I thought I recognized that fingerprint on the Truitt.

Thanks for pointing out the quality of fragility that the work has. You are right about that and that should not be dismissed.

Although I do not scuba dive, I have come across many sharks----in the art world.

But have you ever experienced the MoMA Syndrome, by which I mean (more or less) been really disappointed by an artwork known previously only through images?

P.S. No one has even touched upon craft art -- where, other than in glass perhaps, touch is so important.

Melissa Stern Nope, I have also found the real object to be more meaningful than a reproduction.

William Warmus I find many works at MOMA disappointing compared to the way they looked at the old MOMA: the new building is not very satisfactory for the display of art. In this regard, I follow Victoria Newhouse in her book about Art and the Power of Placement.

For example, I thought that putting the Newman inverted obelisk indoors in the main court was a mistake: it should be anchored to the earth. On the other hand, putting Abramovic into that space was a stroke of genius. That placement worked.

With a photo of an artwork such as the Newman or Abramovic, you never get a powerful sense of the placement in a physical space. That can work for or against the original. Maybe that is some part of your definition of the MOMA syndrome?

To attend to your query about "craft art," I find touch in glass very important. For example I am lecturing about the work of Emile Galle on the west coast this weekend. I argue that you need to handle and touch the major works. Same with many Chihuly objects: I like to take the sea form sets apart, feel the weight and shape of each part, and hold them up to sunlight at different angles.

Melissa Stern If you're talking about the BUILDING- that's another story. The new MOMA is awful, full stop end of discussion. But I interpreted John's question to be about the nature of reproduction-vs- real experience.

John Perreault I am trying to remember if I have ever handled a Chihuly sea form set. Once. After that I always turned that task over to a preparator. Probably my loss. Yes, you are right. Once I read your response, I had sense-memories of handling a Valien, a Shaffer, a William Morris. How could I be oblivious to weight and shape? So do we imagine these qualities when we see this art in museums or when looking at merely pictures of it? In fact, here is a new thought: seeing art in a museum is in itself like looking at a photograph: colors and texture may be better perceived, but you still can't touch. And, also, glass in particular has a sound. Glass, like Truitt (as you described your experience), has vulnerability.

John Perreault Melissa, yes. That was my intention. But installations and buildings can change the perception of art also. Perhaps art must stand up to installations, buildings, photography. And of course art critics and curators.

Nathan Mason The Petit Palais gave me Stendhal's syndrome. I had to spend two days lying in the sun looking at nothing before I could get back on the art circuit. The MoMA syndrome, yes, in the form of disappointment and surprise that the original doesn't look like the reproduction. After the initial shock of the unexpected I generally take great delight in learning what the hand of the artist actually produced. I'm still surprised when seeing Albers square studies how simply and lightly painted they are as opposed to the reproductions which make them seem to be solid color blocks.
As to how museums and displays effect the viewing experience that became clear to me on viewing the Vatican exhibit in 1982 or 83. I saw it first at the Met in large lightly colored rooms where the artwork had room to breath and was bathed in light. I saw it again in San Francisco in smaller rooms painted dark colors. The work seemed dead. More recently at the Whitney the delicate wire pieces and subtle canvases of Richard Tuttle benefited from the architectural heaviness of the space. The same pieces when seen at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago seemed wan and almost invisible in those more pristine galleries (there the architecture really doesn't have much character of its own).
As for craft, one of the great things about the high end art fairs is being able to look and touch. True, I don't think the dealer would have been happy if she had turned around and seen me fondling the selection of Natzler pots - which are light as a feather and have perfectly turned feet.
I think Stendahl is MoMA's great-grand daddy. They are both related to the phenomenon of visual overstimulation. One is the physical exhaustion of travel and consumption. MoMA I think is more indicative of the overall saturation of visual stimulation and infinite reproductions (scaled up, scaled down, morphed...) that we now encounter ceaselessly.

John Perreault Yes, you are absolutely right. Both syndrome's are products of visual overstimulation. I left out the well-known Jerusalem Syndrome wherein visitors to the Holy City become disoriented, hear voices, and claim to have been chosen by God. This is related to the new Christie's Syndrome in which male artists think they have been chosen by God when their early work achieves unbelievable auction prices. Women are exempt because their prices have not yet reached the stratosphere. Seriously though, I do think art history professors really need to show multiple views of art works, and it would be helpful if there would be a PowerPoint program that automatically showed all images in scale with each other. In other words, a big Pollock would be in the right ratio to an Albers in the same sequence or in the adjacent screen. Detailed close-ups should also be required.

Nathan Mason Showing images of the artwork in situ should be required as well. I had a Road to Damascus experience about that when I finally saw the greatest horse butt in art history (Caravaggio's Conversion of St. Paul) on the side wall of the tiny side chapel it was commissioned for. Viewed face on in a slide presentation the prominence of the horse's butt is a puzzler - why so much acreage to that feature? Viewed as it was painted to be seen - from a raking angle where you are gazing up along the same sight lines as St. Paul with the hotspot of light blaring down from above while standing in a very dim nave the experience of the horse butt is properly contextualized within a painting/installation that evokes a fairly visceral response. And think about encountering the drama of that painting before television and the cinema enured us all. Caravaggio was quite a master.

If this link works it a good example of juxtaposing reproductions in situ and face on.

Manon Cleary I have never thought of Truitt as a sculptor, but as a painter that painted three dimensional forms. I have a small work on paper bought on whim in the 70s that appears at a distance and in reproduction as a solid alizarine crimson sheet of paper painted solid and perhaps by any number of means. It is only when one is within a couple of inches of the piece that an irregular vertical slash of cadmium red down the center shows through the upper layers (and there were many upper layers) that the seeming simplicity of the work disappears and the reason for her reputation is made clear.
I think that reproduction has never done justice to art and I remember a graduate school professor when I came east, saying that color field work in the midwest was grayer and not so colorful as in New York and he didn't understand why, until he figured out that the art students away from the coasts were being trained by slides of art and not from art.
My one MOMA syndrome was actually at the Pompidou in the late sixties riding that wonderful escalator and looking down at art that was familiar, but disappointing, as it all looked like row upon row of posters as we rose above the walls where they were mounted. The memory dims as this was at least 40 years ago, ( they might have been on temporary walls), but I seem to remember wall after wall of post impressionist paintings, disappointingly small after seeing wall size projections in an undergraduate art history class of these works.
And finally escorting a group of undergraduate students through the Phillips Collection in DC, I was very surprised when one of my brightest students asked, "are these real paintings?". She thought they were posters. Well John, what are real paintings? I think both your discussions are linked and very interesting.

John Perreault Because in your great antidote about students at the Louvre it is clear that there is a difference between the paintings and what might be posters, I think what you really are asking is not "what are real paintings?" but "Where is the real art?"

In terms of the proliferation of images of artworks on the internet, I have been trying to avoid that question, because the answer I need to give is scary to me as an artist who finds it difficult to stop making paintings and other objects and because as a critic I am drawn to such. I suspect that there will always be a minority, probably a rich and highly educated minority, producing and appreciating physical paintings and sculptures that you could but you shouldn't touch and that have weight and texture and that take up real space. And are vulnerable.

However, computer files and, therefore, images can migrate from one platform to another, can be stored in the cloud, can be accessed by almost anyone, anywhere, at anytime and at no or very low cost, I suspect that this is the not so distant future of art. This means we must begin to see the image as the art and not some distant source, if there is even such. I myself am incredibly annoyed when an art museum (or even a commercial art gallery) does not have images available of every artwork on view on their premises. Increasingly some do. I am lucky enough to live in New York City so I can see a great deal of art first-hand. Nevertheless, as global becomes normal --- and since I am insatiable -- I become frustrated when there is an exhibition I will not be able to see at the Tate or the Louvre or even at LACMA in Los Angeles that is not totally documented online.

This was why I did a spot survey of some museum websites recently. This is also why I was glad to hear the Director of the Museum of Modern Art, Glenn Lowry, say -- during a web-accessible keynote speech in Melbourne, Australia, just a few days ago, that museums of modern art by their very nature are unstable and that no one yet had adjusted to new forms of attendance (my translation). MoMA last year had 3 million live, walking around visitors; but 18 million visitors to their website. And, I myself will reiterate that this is a confusing, badly designed website at that.

My partner Jeff who used to be in the newspaper racket like myself said: Well, we already knew that more people read about art in newspapers then ever go to museums.

But if, because on the internet, there is a change in degree, there is also a change in kind. I would venture to guess that more people see images of art on the internet than see these images in magazines and newspapers. If in my own case, I multiple the number of hits on Artopia and assume that each of the visitors at least looks at the images, often six or more for each entry, the numbers begin to become astounding. I also think that looking at full-color images that you can zoom in on and copy and move around is very different from reading about an artwork in a newspaper (or even a magazine) and/or see an image of as some cheesy (newspaper) reproduction or deceptively glossy (magazine) reproduction. Plus online we have video and sound too.

This leaves the aura problem, which has become another one of my favorite topics. St. Walter (Walter Benjamin) was himself ambiguous about art's aura, a mysterious quality at best. Photography, his primary example of art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction, seems not to have aura. Cinema also. What does this mean? Is this good or bad? Can photography still be art?

Taking aura to be real --- and not just a simplified way of saying collective reception/class context/historical m├ętier --- I think photography and therefore any "second-hand" image can have an aura. We should test this. But in the meantime..... If tin saints --- even when they are representations of fake saints --- can have auras --- then why not images on the internet?

Barbara Grossman Is it possible that the MoMA syndrome is like that of looking a at a photo of an event we experienced in the past? The photo often supersedes the experience.
The narrative is supported by the information in the photo that one has long forgotten.

I have never had the experience of the reproduction overriding the experience of looking at the 'real' thing, Work may look bigger or smaller or have different attributes but a reproduction in any form can never replace the
physicality ( aura) of being with a work of art. I may be biased as I am an artist so I would be mortified if a reproduction supplanted the actual work.
We can never forget that we are sentient beings.

Jill Conner The Met Museum reported this past week that its annual attendance was 5.24 million, the highest since 2001, and dramatically outpacing MoMA. The Met's admission fee is optional so it is no wonder that fewer people put up $20 to get into MoMA. The higher attendance on their website makes sense: it's free; however the Met reported that 40 million people had visited their website in the past year. Maybe I'm comparing apples and oranges, since it seems like MoMA has always been behind the curve.

Richard Minsky 18 million to 3 million is 6 to one. 40 to 5.24 is 7+ to one. This is exciting, because 6 or 7 times as many people who can't get to the real thing can see it online. If they get interested by the image maybe they'll make a pilgrimage.

My mother was a member of MoMA, and as a child in the 1950's I often was taken there. Certain works shimmered--the space around them seemed to vibrate. That’s what drew me to art, and I’ve been thinking about why that happens (and how to make it happen) ever since.

Physical artworks are made of materials, present images, and elicit metaphors. That creates an apparent flicker, aura, or vibration of space with the shift in attention from the external to the internal and back again, many times a second, sometimes creating the illusion of simultaneous perception of several states of being.

A metaphor and image without a relevant material surface is illustration. That image can be delivered in any medium--a slide projector, a magazine page, or a computer screen. It may seem obvious, but when confronted with paint or stone you are not looking at a photo of paint or stone on a screen or in an art book.

Disappointment can come if the work that you saw as an illustration turns out to be an illustration. The AHA! moment comes when the physical presence of the Work has "all that."

Ken Turner I want to reply to a few different aspects of the conversation. I have experienced the MoMA syndrome, like Carol with Hopper, but mostly the ah-ha moment. My first real Modigliani comes right to mind. I had always wondered why anyone cared about his work during my Midwest slide and Jansen education. Once I had experienced the ah-ha a few times I think I learned to compartmentalize and take each as an art experience in it's own right. Both originals and reproductions have their place. When I taught I emphasized that this was an image of something else and that once you get the bug you go out of your way to see the original but if you can't go get what you can from the reproduction.
So my position is that having 18 million folks visiting online is a good thing. Many may not have the wonderful first hand experience but there's something. I trust that powerful work has an effect even in reproduction.
I also trust that you are saying the word photography as a term for reproduction because an original photo can be quite different from a reproduction photo of it. Again, both have value.
I also seem to recall experiencing aura from a book reproduction and then experiencing it again when I was in front of the real thing.

David Richardson I'm with Richard Minsky on this - materiality is intrinsic to the art object, unless it is digital and made on a computer, for a computer. We are indeed sentient beings. I think there is a hierarchy of experience here from the "real experience" to the illustration of that experience. An illustration (a slide, a reproduction, a jpeg file) can be an introduction to an object made in real materials, or it can be an aide memoir to something that you've already experienced. Here's a good quote: (from a new anthology, The Craft Reader, edited by Glenn Adamson, selections from The Art of Encounter, 2003, by sculptor and painter Lee Ufan), originally from 1973, “The hand is a friend of the brain. The hand and brain work together to paint a picture or make a sculpture. The hand is extremely important to the brain, but at times betrays it. That is because the hand is part of the body. Like the eyes, mouth, feet, ears, buttocks, the brain itself, and internal organs, it is an organ of the body. Because the hand is an organ connected to the other parts of the body, it can see and feel and think”. Not every work of art shows the hand, but it seems to me that most, if they are made by hand, by the artist's body, will not be complete until experienced in the same plane of experience - that is in person, in real space.

Saint-Clair Cemin My first reaction to the MoMA was that the space, vast and shogun-palace like were not conducive to the appreciation of art. The Lilli pond of Monet looked like a stamp glued to the wall and among Monet's brush strokes I saw for the first time, in white on blue, the drawing of an Australian aboriginal turtle; an optical illusion. In that space the only paintings that really held were the ones of Dali, since the carry their own space within their limits.
It remains to be said that there is no other way to appreciate art but to be in its presence, the internet has its values and if there is art that is designed specially to be seen in the screen of a computer or iPad, then be it, I do not see a problem. The 18 000 000 people who are "visiting" the museum by the net, are visiting something else, not the museum. I liked very much the old MoMA, I like less the new one, but with or without disappointments, well or badly displayed, nothing can replace the physical presence of the work.

David Richardson Eva Hesse's work is interesting to think about in this context because the silicon work has deteriorated so badly and some of the pieces were re-made by the original assistant/fabricator. It's a case where we have to assemble the experience of her work from multiple sources - images, what's left of the originals, the repros, our own memories if we saw the work.

Ellen Wallenstein Regarding auras, (this is in response to Richard Minsky) a few years ago I was in Madrid at the Thyssen-Bornemisza where I had the opportunity to stand in front of/look at/experience a Rembrandt self-portrait and I swear the air was charged in the space where I stood. Maybe something about the amount of others over the hundreds of years who got to be in that same space where Rembrandt stood to paint it? (obviously not the museum space.) I've looked at other sps but never felt that same mystery. It was the opposite of the MoMA syndrome (also I was alone in the room, which hardly ever happens @ MoMA!)
When I saw a Picasso show at MoMA (maybe 2 years ago?) the only images I was interested in standing before (more than a second or 2) were the ones without glass...

Doctori Sadisco Perhaps the internet is saving us from experiencing the price of over-population directly. So we can be on-line and experience the price of over-population indirectly.

Whether visiting a museum, rock concert, parade, state fair, or any entertainment, I get the immediate impression that there are too many of us humans crowding in on all the attractions to be able to have a quality experience of those attractions. On-line I have the experience that the only quality attraction is trying to get one's meaning across without "stepping on someone's foot."

Antonio Petracca William Warmus mentioned very early in this discussion that "Sharks are not yet props".It's surprising that mention of Damien Hirst and his Shark piece has not surfaced yet. I would call it a prop, and a work of art and a shark. Any image of his Shark and tank could never capture the essence of this work. Is it because of his genius or because its a shark?
Is it possible that the MoMA syndrome can be explained easily. The cognicenti have come to realize that much of the art collected by the MoMa, and displayed, is not that great. Time and space has revealed this. The shark, one of the most ancient and successful creatures on earth has proven its worth.

David Richardson Hirst's shark is a former shark, a product of taxidermy and not very compelling unless you are moved by large fleshy objects in formaldehyde. Could that also describe MOMA ? I don't know. Where else are you going to go to see the Vollard Suite, or Gorky's portrait of the artist and his mother? I still love MOMA because it's the closest I can get to de Kooning and Matisse, Scott Burton's granite chairs, Martin Puryear and Twombly's 4 seasons.

Doctori Sadisco. Whoa! I vehemently disagree. Not that great? The Museum of Modern Art's collection is not that great? Where else do you find Brancusi, Pavel Tchelitchew. Hide-and-Seek, Franz Kline, Pollock, Monet, Cezanne, countless surrealists, Dadaists, David Smith, Kandinsky, Calder, the original "Lumiere," (sp?) So how does that rate from who-ever are these cognoscenti as "not that great?" Here you are critics, here is Doctori Sadisco's Rule of critique:

1. It is all (and only) a matter of taste.
2. There is no accounting for that taste.

Of the thousand and one reasons to hate a work of art, someone else will come up with a thousand and one reasons to love that same piece. Art which was hated
at the turn of the last century was so because it was in your face different. Today art which is mediocre should be criticized. Then again, one man's mediocrity is either death or excitation.

Doctori Sadisco Sorry to not be on point about Stendhal's Syndrome, but I would love to see reactions that powerful as to precipitate a swoon, a riot, a fainting spell for some work of art.

Now when I have only seen pictures of people suspended by their pierced backs on giant meat hooks, I resolved to stay away forever from such masochistic demonstrations. Not attempting to understand it as a statement about culture, personal pain, desire, stupidity, or whatever it is supposed to represent other than
a painful, unspiritual act, is quite enough. I would not go to a gallery or museum to see this demonstrated, because I might demonstrate how well I can projectile vomit.
However disgusting I find it, I am not shocked or surprised by it as the world is rife with S & M. Maybe it is just a nice way for some artists to have fun. I would go, and feel honored to attend an actual Sun Dance. Why? It is all (and only) a matter of taste. And, there is no accounting for that taste. :)

Antonio Petracca Precisely! You have Hit it! There is no accounting for taste. That is why a Pollock now is now wallpaper. It is a matter of perspective. The critics in his time praised Pollock as the ultimate. But now he is reduced to wallpaper. The cognoscenti giveth and the cognoscenti taketh away. But a shark is still a shark. The stuff of legend. It instills power, legend, fear instability, rage. Warhol hat it right. He understood the power of the icon. Marilyn, Mao, Campbell's Soup, the electric chair. Life, the real, the dangerous, will always have an audience. We artists, critics and intellectuals have lost the battle. The people are coming to the Met, MoMA ,Louvre, Prado in great numbers. We can debate this syndrome and that syndrome, but they will come. Be it posters or appropriation or original art. These places have become icons. They are immune to our musings.

Antonio Petracca To Richard, Doctori
On a personal level, i agree . Where else can you see this and that. And be moved by , Pollock, Miro, Calder, Kandinsky, Ashley Bickerton?, Donald Sultan? Kara Walker? David Salle? Karen Kaliminick?(I'm not sure how to spell her name) I will still go to the MoMA, you will go to the MoMA, Joe Schmo will go to the MoMA. Does the MoMA have the best Walkers or the best Sultans or the best Calders? I don't Know....But they will still Come. MoMa is the Name BRAND. Motorcycles, Supermodels, Empty Spaces are presented in great museums. They still come. Jonathans MoMa Syndrome addresses powerful issues. To me, these issues contemplate a possible future. Be it conceptual, philosophical, real. But a shark is still a shark and most likely will always be a shark.

Doctori Sadisco. HI Antonio! I live in a medium sized mid-western city. Many of these cities have museums. They do not get the very best of current art, nor are they positioned monetarily to obtain the absolute classics. So they have fair representation, and average representation, peppered with a few classic pieces obtained and donated by the elite rich. Two such collections exist here in our "MAM," Milwaukee Art Museum, which probably would not be called Mam if not for Moma. The collections are one in American and European Folk Art, "self taught, outsider art," and the other is an impressive collection of art from Haiti, the Richard and Erna Flagg collection. The Flaggs live in Milwaukee and hunt for valuable pieces which they can privately lick their chops over, or hang on a wall near the bathroom and forget about. (JOKING.)

At least here you can walk through the galleries and view paintings and photos and sculptures without a million people filing through single file. That is true until some great marvel of the antiquities comes through and then watch the community pour into the museum.

Art on the internet is for me (matter of taste) boring. I like the fact that I can go find Banksy, and look at the brave silliness of his magnificent oeuvre.

I have to agree with his sensibility about making art public and not just for the rich elite. Although if it could ever happen, and it wont, since it is rooted to our history, that art became available that way, it would deny the wondrous world of magazine art critics and their ilk, the right to guide us to and away from certain works of art.

Please share with me, you dear art pundits, some art on line which is killing the museums and dulling my sensitivity with crappy digital facsimiles, so I can gloat.
Art made for the computer? - Erp. Art made for computer games? Eesh. Interactive art on the computer? Retch. I like the way I can get glimpses and hints on line of what is out there, but it will never take the place of the real deal. If I can't luxuriate in the use of a paint brush, see the buffed surface of a sculpture glinting sunlight (Smith), feel the surface of a van Gogh, before being led away in handcuffs, I will never be satisfied by anything deeper than mere on-line pornography.

Like digital music what is lost is the personal warmth of the full spectrum available to the senses.

Antonio Petracca Doctori, My wife is from Chicago. I've been to the "MAM" on more than one occasion. I liked it very much and its fun. I've seen some great temporary shows there. A gift from the "Gods" and the "Flaggs"! Like me, you seem to be a romantic at heart when it comes to art.(EEK...did i say that)

Doctori Sadisco In the words of someone of dubious political affiliation and also detestable, "You betcha!" I can't believe you've been to MAM. You know of the Flaggs! When is Chitown let me know. I may be able to come say hello.

Since all of my references are about the original MoMa and not the new one I can't talk about my disappointment. But in general I am at times disappointed with the architecture housing museums. Can such spaces be considered as works of art?

I never really liked the Guggenheim. I found all the climbing and the downward pull of gravity cumbersome on my 350 pound body. Okay I am not 350 lbs. But having to start at the top and work my way down to view art is not my style. I like being able to go back and forth to paintings. Look at one for awhile, then something else then back again. Etc. I like spaces which invite comfortable movement and which offer surprises around corners or up ahead. I like being astonished by a piece, and feel that placement is important, also lighting. If a work of art is poorly lit it goes
against reason as to why and as to its impossibility. But I have had that experience in the original Knoedler Gallery when it was on E 57th Street. Someone had lit three Dali paintings so badly they had a dark bar of shadow across the top third of each.
Pointing it out was met with skepticism until the artist himself thanked me for pointing this outrage out to him.

Spaces for art ought to be as well thought out as classic Japanese Architecture.
Whether the space invites one's meditation, viewing pleasure, ability to walk up to and for sculpture - around a work of art is integral to my experience. If the artist envisioned his or her work outdoors, it is advisable to place it outdoors. If it is delicate then close scrutiny should be envisioned for its location. Viewing art should be as natural as breathing.

Antonio Petracca Yea! Most of these New additions to old museums don't work...I agree that the elite architects don't seem to have the art in might when they design them. i might be in Chitown some time in August.

Discussion closed.....