Articles Tagged with: guest column

Paul Weiner – Social Media and the Art World

Paul Weiner – Social Media And The Art World

What does the art world look like today for emerging artists online? Hectic. Exciting. Disturbing. Everyday, we learn digital ways to meet new people, digest the news, buy stuff, find a lover, drool over tasty food, and even consume visual art. I set out to interview my own Instagram audience of self-selecting online art consumers in hopes of finding some answers with about ​400 very opinionated respondents for each question. Their answers point to an art world that craves digital experiences and uses them to inform their real lives. ​Museumgoers toting selfie sticks and commercial galleries that play up their artists’ Instagram fame are just the tip of the iceberg with massive, structural art world shifts looming. Let’s talk about it.

paul weiner

Paul Weiner in his studio

The Emerging Art Audience Is Changing

Instagram is turning into a platform for visual art viewers similar to Spotify and iTunes for music lovers. A massive online viewership uses Instagram as a search engine to seek out visual artists who satisfy their tastes, and they really care about those artists. They also recognize the absurdity of staring at art encapsulated in a tiny, low resolution square. ​When I ran my polls, I found that 94% of my audience wants to see real exhibitions by the artists who they follow online, 79% see more art online than in person, and 57% think the art they find online is as important as what they see in person. With this online audience growing rapidly, massive image quality improvements on the horizon, and a digital native generation coming of age, a significant shift is in progress toward accepting the virtual as real.

How does this audience feel about the art world’s historical power centers? Another poll I ran found that 88% of my audience is unsatisfied with the media’s contemporary art coverage and only 9% care about an artist’s degree. Many respondents were discouraged by what they perceived as a top-down system that does not introduce enough new artists. On social media, by contrast, an almost unlimited number of artists are accessible at the tap of a finger. Unlike their ​Artforum ​reading forebears, the virtual public finds new artists through direct interactions without guidance from trusted art world gatekeepers. This audience looks for emerging artists who they can identify with or admire and raises them out of obscurity with little regard for prior media coverage, education, curatorial interest, or commercial success.

 

For the first time, artists stand to build larger audiences by connecting with the personal interests of each public viewer than by convincing the professional art class that they conform to elite preferences and biases. For better or worse, this means the roles are changing for the players that have historically vetted artists before they receive public attention: curators, critics, gallerists, and the donor class. The floodgates are open — sort of. A large audience does not predict an artist’s long term importance, and it has been proven time and time again that the public’s infatuations can be fleeting. The same kinds of art world players who have been in charge through much of the 20th century to the present still control the institutional settings where art is historically canonized. The levers of power at these institutions still rely on separate audiences of their own.

Over the next few decades, it will be exciting to watch and see if social media darling artists are able to harness public support while also convincing institutional circles that their work is imbued with an important message about the times that is worthy of being amplified and canonized. As of yet, social media success is not a fast track to institutional acceptance in the same way as a Yale MFA might be. Maybe a new generation of powerful art world figures who grow up in a digital native world will embrace social media’s impact.

Paul Weiner - Delphian Magazine

Infographic showing the findings from some of the polls undertaken for this study

Reimagining The Museum

The possibility that the museum itself will experience a virtual transformation is also worth watching.

Looking back at the 43% of my audience that is not convinced that art they find online is as important as art they see in real life, there is a lot of room for expansion. My polls also found that 35% of my audience is already convinced that the experience of seeing visual art online is equal to that of listening to music. The 65% who disagree might change their minds when they see the improvements coming soon to digital viewing. New extended reality (XR) headset devices satisfy cravings for greater image quality and physical experience. Take, for instance, the Magic Leap Onethat, according to its creators, can “superimpose 3D computer-generated imagery over real world objects.” In combination with social media, powerful devices like these will allow us to select paintings we find online and interact with them on the walls of the rooms we live in. Maybe our future museums will be superimposed on our own walls, where we can choose from millions of publicly available, virtually rendered artworks and travel through history as we gaze for as long as we want, wherever we want.

paul weiner - Delphian Magazine

Infographic showing the findings from some of the polls undertaken for this study

Social Media is Reshaping Artists

Artists are adjusting to showing their work in digital forums, often subconsciously. These adjustments are taboo to talk about, but they are visual signifiers for the way artists share the broad struggle humans face today to exist in the digital world. The push to put out more and more attractive photos can quickly turn authenticity off in favor of the kind of calculated pop-sexiness that pulls in mass audiences.

Many artists change the shapes of their works to fit in Instagram’s square or edit photos of their work extensively before posting them. Other artists are addicted to the attention they can receive on social media by making very decorative paintings or finding just the right angle for a studio shot loaded with tantalizing visual attractions. These concerns are a way of life that extends far outside the art world. Most of your neighbors have self-constructed identities curated for internet appearances.

At the same time, the incredible wealth of visual information available to artists who spend time on social media everyday would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Searching through popular art hashtags or following new artists brings us into new aesthetic worlds ripe for great cultural exchanges. At all hours of the day, artists from New York and Los Angeles are not only communicating with their peers in small cities in flyover states but also with artists in London, Sydney, Berlin, Dubai, Lagos, or Hong Kong.

I find myself making artwork that embodies this simultaneously disturbing and electrifying digital experience through my abstract paintings that are self-aware social media objects and often site-specific to Instagram. While these works physically exist in my studio or an exhibition, the largest audience that interacts with them will never see the work in person. The physical object is a carrier for a digital interaction and becomes a relic of digital life. The works exist in the a different context for each viewer and are viewed in lockstep with documentation of everyday life and constructed social personas: food photos, memes, selfies, half naked people in swimsuits, party shots, targeted ads, and the most attractive eye candy influencers can make. As such, these works interact as much with social media’s visual and algorithmic history as they do with the white walled

art history. As XR technologies become more common place, it will be possible to bring the work full-circle and exhibit my physical paintings next to their virtual representations.

One last thing. Art is best served by vibrant disagreements and ideas that provoke intense discomfort. The art world is in an incredible state of digital flux at the same time as hordes of people are using social media are tearing each other down over and over again in ego-driven, self-righteous tirades. As we experience these changes, let’s remember to protect speech and respect disagreement.

paul weiner - delphian magazine

Infographic showing the findings from some of the polls undertaken for this study

For more, see Paul Weiner’s

Website

Instagram

 

For more articles about the internet and the art world, see

Kate Mothes: Who Is It Real For? The Internet As Vehicle


My Top Five – ‘Premiums: Interim Projects 2019’ at the Royal Academy of Arts

Premiums: Interim Projects 2019, spread across the Weston Studio and The McAulay Gallery of the Royal Academy of Arts newly refurbished campus, gives the public the chance to see new work by artists who are halfway through their postgraduate study at the Royal Academy Schools. Founded in 1769, The RA Schools offers the only free three year postgraduate course in the UK, accepting a maximum of 17 artists each year who work across a range of mediums (painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation) in the studios of Burlington House.

“Premiums is a chance to encounter some of the most exciting and innovative work being produced by postgraduate students in the UK.” – Rebecca Salter RA, Keeper of the Royal Academy of Arts

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until March 13th, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Premiums: Interim Projects 2019’, (in no particular order).

By Hector Campbell

 

Harminder Judge

 

interim projects 2019

Harminder Judge, ‘Untitled (morning smoke)’, ‘Untitled (bone fragments)’ & ‘Untitled (skies over pyres)’, All plaster, polymer, pigment, oil and wax, All 2019.

 

Harminder is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed his BA in Fine Art at Northumbria University.

Creating a diverse artistic output that spans a wide range of formats including performance, installation, sculpture, photography, sound and video, Harminder explores ideas related to religious and occult imagery and iconography, as well as the marriage of Indian and Western cultures he experienced growing up as a British-born Sikh. The works on display in ‘Premiums’ are a continuation of the artists experimentation with layering plaster, polymer, pigment, oil and wax to create sculptural reliefs that evoke digital pixelated imagery as well as the aurora light displays.

Harminder’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘In this strange house…’ at The New Art Gallery, Walsall (2012) and his solo national touring project ‘The Modes of Al-Ikseer’ (2011). His work features in ‘ Art & Religion in the 21st Century’ published by Thames and Hudson (2015).

 

Website/Instagram

 

Joe Pearson

 

interim projects 2019

Joe Pearson, ‘Pissing in the Holy Fountain Before There’s Somewhere Else to Drink’, Oil on canvas, 2019

 

Joe is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed his BA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Having felt “boxed in”as a painter during his time at the Slade, and expanding into producing video animations and digital collage for his BA degree show, Joe has since returned to painting since starting his postgraduate studies at the RA Schools. The works on display in ‘Premiums’ depict the artist’s mythological cartoonish figures, presented contextless against stark primary coloured backgrounds, the viewer is encouraged to imagine the wider narrative that these pointy-nosed characters belong to.

As part of creative duo ‘Joe and Rory’, alongside Rory Cargill, Joe produces short films, sketches as well as a podcast.

 

Website/Instagram

 

Clara Hastrup

 

interim projects 2019

Clara Hastrup, ‘Echinocactus Grusonii: Polyphonia Fibonacci’, Mixed media, 2019

 

Clara is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed her BA in Fine Art (Painting and Printmaking) at The Glasgow School of Art.

Creating immersive multimedia installations encompassing video, audio, sculpture and printed elements, Clara’s work often combines imagery and ideas taken from the natural world that are then contrasted and combined with technology and techniques from the digital world. The sculpture on display in ‘Premiums’ sees a large cactus placed on a rotating platform, it’s spines plucking and pricking against eight carefully arranged microphones to create a polyphony that plays in real time through the gallery speakers.

Clara has exhibited work as part of the RSA: New Contemporaries 2017 at Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, as well as at Trinity House (Edinburgh, 2018), the Leith Theatre (Edinburgh, 2018) and the Dyson Gallery (London, 2018).

 

Website/Instagram

 

Jenkin van Zyl

 

interim projects 2019

Jenkin van Zyl, ‘Loon’, Two way mirror, latex, ladder, lipstick, LED lights, 2019

 

Jenkin is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed his BA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Jenkin’s singular creative vision draws upon a childhood spent enjoying both fancy dress and crossdressing, developing a unique personal style that is evident in his performance and video works. The sculpture on display in ‘Premiums’ doubles as the immersive environment within which Jenkin’s filmed the accompanying video piece ‘Loon’, as the artist refers to his sculptural works as like escapees from the films”.

Jenkin has modelled for a number of fashion and lifestyle magazines, been praised for his creative use of social media to promote queer communities, and directed a music video for the post-punk band HMLTD.

 

 

Website/Instagram

 

Liv Preston

 

interim projects 2019

Liv Preston, ‘Inventory for Alucard’, Arcade machine panels, mixed media, 2019

 

Liv is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools (2017-2020), having previously completed her BA in Sculpture at Wimbledon College of Arts. Liv’s sculptural output examines video game culture, it’s common motifs and themes as well as it’s reassurance of ‘retro’ popularity. For ‘Premiums’ Liv presents a display of 28 arcade machine panels, deconstructed and decontextualized the painted panels become sculptural reliefs within the gallery context, the only clues to their previous existence being the occasional pictorial video game references and of course the works heavily referencial name.

Liv has exhibited widely in group exhibitions such as ‘Docile Bodiesat Vitrine Gallery (London, 2018), ‘Mantel’ at Copperfield Gallery (London, 2018), ‘general studies’ at Norwich Outpost (Norwich, 2016), and had her first solo exhibition, ‘Valuable Wounds’ at the Pas de Temps project space in Nantes, France in 2016.

 

Website/Instagram

 

For more by Hector Campbell see

We Are The People, Who Are You – Edel Assanti

Bloomberg New Contemporaries

Condo 2019


Remi Rough in conversation with Dr. Charley Peters

Remi Rough (b. 1971, London, UK) began making paintings on walls and trains in South London in the 1980s. A respected train writer, Remi has maintained a dynamic presence on the street while developing a prolific profile as a studio painter, recently showing at MOCA (London), Wunderkammen Gallery (Rome), Zimmerling & Jungfleisch (Saarbrucken) and ArtScience Museum (Singapore).

I spoke to the artist about the formal concerns of his work, his relationship with definitions of his practice, and the legacy of abstraction in the ongoing evolution of his paintings.

remi rough portrait

Installation at Quarry Bay Station, Hong Kong for MTRHK and Swire Properties.
Hong Kong 2018.

[Charley Peters] How do you feel at this point in your career about definitions of your work as ‘graffiti art’? Could you say something about the relationship between your work on the street and the paintings you make in the studio, presumably they may have different audiences or you might apply a shift in logic in your approaches to both practices? 
[Remi Rough] I can totally live with the word ‘graffiti’, it’s other terms I’m a lot less comfortable with. I often use the term ‘post graffiti’ as I think it best describes where I am personally with the kind of work that I make now.
I don’t consciously make any shift in logic between my studio work and work in public spaces, to me the same rules apply. If i’m honest the work outside is a lot easier because you can hide behind your mistakes due to the scale you’re working to. The studio work if anything is a more refined version of the works I do publicly.
[CP] Are there any terms that you feel comfortable with in terms of how you would define yourself as an artist? 
[RR] I really think that what I do sits in-between so many brackets it’s actually quite hard to pinpoint what genre (if any), it is. Contemporary is fine for me, as I mentioned before ‘post graffiti’ as an adjective to the work is fine also. I used to use the term painter but even that has less importance to me now. I have ideas way beyond just paint on surface.
remi rough canvas

The Absolute _ 2017
Graphite, acrylic and spray paint on herringbone linen
120 x 120cm

[CP] How would you describe your working process?
[RR] Mathematical… I don’t think people really know just how much mathematics goes into the work I create. Without maths I’d be completely lost. I use geometry to plan the paintings I make and from there I start to build the images up from simple graphite lines to taped, primed sections to final colour forms. It’s a slow process with tape and paint as drying times are essential to every layer.
[CP] You engage actively in processes of collaboration with other artists. In some ways this is at odds with our conventional definitions of a studio artist – could you talk through your approach to collaboration and how it enhances or supplements the work you make as an individual artist?
[RR] As young graffiti writers we collaborated constantly. You have to remember that graffiti is the only art form ever created by and taken forward by children and with that there are less oppressive egos and much more openness to working together. We don’t have the foibles of most adult artists about working together and sharing what we do. Nowadays I like the challenge of working alongside and with other artists. I think about the end results and the process in equal terms. I get a lot from this process. For example one artist I have done a lot of work with over the past few years is NAWER from Poland. As well as being a fantastic artist and amazing designer he’s a good friend and we’ve both learnt loads from each other. Working out how to make our styles of work sit comfortably together in a space and not vie for attention against each other is a big challenge but we seem to have found a great way of working. I am not precious about my work when I’m collaborating, I think big decisions about the people you work with are very important too.
[CP] You use a very particular colour palette, how important is colour to you and how do you make decisions about its presence in your painting?
[RR] A think a lot of the colour decisions happen during the drawing process. I tend to make notes on particular palettes and see what works for what painting. Weirdly the paintings I make are often not wholly pre-meditated. A lot happens as it happens so to speak.
That said I tend to change colours quite a lot during making work too. I seem to have a strong sense of what is needed and when. I think if graffiti has taught me one thing it’s knowing when to stop.
[CP] You make many art historical references in your painting – alluding to movements including Suprematism, Constructivism and Neo-Plasticism. I find this interesting as much work that is derived from a practice on the street fails to look beyond or be defined outside of popular culture as a frame of reference. How do these modernist references provide a context for your own painting? How does your work challenge or develop what art history has shown us?
[RR] Graffiti as an art form is one of the last true abstract movements. We took letters, we distorted them and abstracted them way beyond their original form. There were no boundaries, rules or limitations. I was always looking beyond populist references whether it was Dali or Mondrian or later when I started educating myself about history of art and understanding the limitless options of where I could take my work. As I have never been formally educated in art I have always taken it upon myself to fill my mind with knowledge both academic and visual. Hence the discovery of De Stijl, Constructivism, Vorticism, Bauhas and beyond. The context for me lies in the beginnings of all these movements. I was part of the inception of a similar important and historical movement. My life and the lives of Malevich, Van Doesburg or the suprematists are intertwined. I needed to find a voice within my work, I needed to find a structure and as the letter gradually fell away, the words that I painted become the architecture that surrounds us or the magazines we read or the interiors we live in. It’s all part of our cultural fabric and seemingly more evident now then ever before as we don’t have to fight oppressive governments to be heard or seen and don’t have to hide what we do because it’s deemed inappropriate. It’s still coded language much like graffiti writing but it’s easier to translate now.
remi rough wall painting

Concise
Part of the ‘Art from the streets’ exhibition at the Art Science Museum, Singapore
Singapore 2018.

[CP] At times it feels that you are appropriating modernist aesthetics, such as your works based on Malevich’s Black Square, which appear as a mashup of original referent and your own concerns with making paintings. I’m intrigued by this as a contemporary – or at least familiarly postmodern – form of authorship. Is there any direct relationship between this strategy of visual ‘sampling’ and the work you do with music?  
[RR] It’s all remixing. Malevich didn’t invent the ‘black square’ he simply found a channel for it. Everything we do is a remix to a certain degree. Every word we speak has been uttered trillions of times already. Every image exists in some way shape or form already, it’s how you choose to re-imagine it that makes for interesting art. As much as I love a lot of that early suprematist work I think a lot of it wasn’t quite where it should be in terms of composition or finish. We can look at those origins now and inform new work with similarly imbued aesthetics and tweak the compositions and the finishes and add something that just wasn’t possible in the early 20th Century.
[CP] I was wondering, given your interest in formalism, how important is the presence of the ‘image’ in your work?
[RR] The image is everything and nothing. I guess it isn’t that important to me but once work becomes known as a style or an aesthetic does it not become an image by default? 
My main concern with painting is to push the boundaries of this as far as possible but still retain some kind of stylistic approach. To never make the same painting twice but for the viewer to know exactly what and who they are looking at I guess.
For more work by Remi Rough, visit his website HERE
And for more by Charley Peters, visit her website HERE
Remi Rough and Charley Peters are both exhibiting as part of the three-way collaborative show Interlude at The House Of Saint Barnabus alongside Peter Lamb – on until the end of March.
For more guest articles, check out Rowan Newton interviewing Robin Footitt HERE

Guest Column – Nicholas Burns

Inside the Bug Jar By Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns

I
In a jar full of bugs,
I am agitated. On display
My actions and motives are questioned by
Leering eyes.
Waiting for the chance to dissect me and use me.
Abuse me and isolate my weaknesses
I must be deft and dexterous
Flexible and malleable
Able to adapt and function in all environments
My design must be flawless and innovative
Cohesive, yet groundbreaking

Eliminate the excess.
Don’t be the freak.

Tweak it.
Perfect it.
Make it the best.

Because no one remembers those who live in mediocrity.
The worker bees serve an elegant purpose.
Committed to one another as
A unit.
A family
Aiming to produce the best. The sweetest.

Don’t make a mistake because you must remember

Everyone is watching

II
In a room full of mirrors,
I see a thousand mistakes.
Changes I need to make
We need to make

I’ve said too much
I’ve seen too much
Yet not enough
Still looking for myself
In a world of constant change and
Scrutiny,
Controversy,
And Competition
I am under the microscope

I’m reinventing myself
I’ll dye my hair
Blue and orange, green and gray
Then black
I’m every color
Then no color at all

I’m reinventing myself
I’ll dress the best
Maintain a look of confidence
Even though I’m frightened and ashamed
I’ll spritz that dark rum scent
Scent like sex
Yet my airs produce miasmic odors
An attractor and repellent

What do I need to do to see this through?
I want to fix the world but I can’t seem to fix myself

I need a shortcut
A pointer
A guide

If only these mirrors could talk

III
In a puzzle with infinite pieces
I am in need of fresh air
But at least I’m finding grounding
In the lack of control

What started a storm with no foreseeable end
I am now in its eye
I am calm
The storm still persists, still rages
But I have a damn good umbrella

Like the bees, I’m still at work
Still dressed the best
I spritz my chest
To keep the lingering smell
That became my attractor

Yet now I discard this idea of supremacy
Perfection, a silly structure
A hierarchical mirage
I prefer to be the freak
To take my position in left field

I want to build something beautiful
But I sometimes forget the recipe
I am the baker and the chef,
But deft I am not

I’m making a mess, and it’s getting everywhere
And that’s fine with me
Food fights are fun
Spontaneous
Collaborative
Colorful

Perfection is a mirage
And in the desert of opportunities
I’ll save my energy for fruitful excursions
That mirage will always disappear

And that’s fine with me.

 

 

 

Studio Art Alumni:
Inside the Bug Jar
Jan 22 – Feb 22, 2019
Artist Reception: Feb 7, 4-7pm

 

Nicholas Burns – WEBSITE

 

For more guest columns, check out Andrew Salgado’s essay about the work of Benjamin Murphy HERE