Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving and Poodles

So the Thanksgiving events wind down.

There was soggy architecture, rain-soaked and oversubscribed at the California Academy of Sciences. Two giant spheres sandwiched between a living roof and a subterranean aquarium, pushing the roof outward with a graceful femininity and seemingly mocking the functionally irrelevant twisted tower of the De Young Museum directly across from it.

There was a sunset dinner cruise on the Bay, with detailed discussions of the implications of new theories concerning IGF2, imprinting and the spectrum of mental disorders from autism through to schizophrenia as the swells poured in through the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then, finally, there was SFMOMA, Martin Puryear and participatory art projects. Katharina Fritsch's visually stunning Kind mit Pudeln (concentric circles of black poodles surrounding a baby) invoked the embrace of kitsch (yes, Fritsch invoked kitsch) by, say, Jeff Koons, while simultaneously reminding me that the singular requirement of art is discovery of the art by critics and museums. Advocacy is the requirement. It's not that Fritsch's piece is not interesting, but it has the postmodern conceit of denying conceptual depth with a gentle tongue-in-cheek amusement. As observers we spend time interpreting it, but the interpretation is at best a reference to Faust, at worst a reference to Koons.

The social aspect of art was reinforced while browsing a volume on the roots of cyberart in the 90s (and before). The examples and the narratives built around explorations in coastal metropolitan centers and major universities. The author spun a narrative history in a web of advocacy connecting together their friends and acquaintances from that era. There was not, nor could there have been, an appreciation of anything other than what passed through the author's sphere.

Could it be otherwise? Disintermediation and long-tails might hold a key with the internet supporting better access of artists to art markets and observers, but they also promote an unfiltered view of content without sieving by non-amateurs.

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