I haven’t visited any blog over the last week without seeing a link to Artworld Salon, the newest Internet site run by art news journalists. The most weighty of those links (due only to readership numbers) comes from Walter Robinson at Artnet, who calls the site “the new blog for art world insiders”.
Now, generally I find the print world in html form to be a fairly limited representation of the Internet, and while Artworld Salon has some good moments, (I liked their post on exhibition catalogs for example) as Anaba points out their general lack of web savvy leads to a lot of ignorant commentary on the subject. Witness Marc Spiegler’s and Ian Charles Stewart’s comments on ArtReview’s myspace blog.
My view is that the MySpace product looks amateurish, functions poorly and may be rejected by the MySpace community for invading their space under false pretences. (Ian Charles Stewart)
I'm not a MySpacer, but I'd hazard a guess that at this point they are pretty used to people hijacking their “community” for commercial purposes. And the magazine seems to have plenty of friends, including Hans Ulrich Obrist (or an e-impostor – judge for yourself here.) (Marc Spiegler)
Has Ian Charles Stewart even been on myspace? What false pretenses does he think ArtReview has? If you don’t have a myspace account it may be tough to grasp why people use it, but I would think that at this point most people have the basic understanding that users seek to increase their professional visibility as opposed to simply meeting friends and seeking a quick lay (in fairness Stewart does give artreview’s myspace blog credit as a PR device, though the comments above would seem to contradict that sentiment.) I frequently cite the fantastic 2nd Cannons, a publishing company located in LA, as a great example of the effectiveness of myspace networking tools, as I would have never found them as early as I did without the help of myspace. As press, I would think the folks at Artworld Salon would have particular interest in the tool as it can be used to find stories nobody else has. Myspace performs inconsistently on this level, but for this reason alone you simply can’t dismiss it.
Following this thread, Marc Spiegler goes on to condemn ArtReview for the design of their myspace page, saying, “Design wise, I'd say Art Review needs to take a look at how their MySpace page looks on a laptop. Right now, it requires all sorts of lateral scrolling and their logo is consistently covered up by random ads, including one for “THE BEST MODEL SITES!”
The level of snobbish condescension in this comment demands an annoyed retort from us, because while nobody’s going to defend myspace for its design – it clearly sucks – you can’t dismiss the value of a web tool on aesthetics alone. Ebay looks like ass, people still manage to sell $20,000 Warhol prints on the site, and it doesn’t effect the price of the print. Why should ArtReview be taken any less seriously because it decides to place more stalk in social networking and lump a cookie cutter design? What’s more, Artworld Salon is in no position to be commenting on website design, as they are working with one of the more uninspired blog templates on the web. I’m not a fan of the flash masthead as the slow fade in logo seems unnecessary, and the font Western-meets-computer-age renders two perfectly good styles horribly inelegant as one.
Spiegler’s comments however, seem to have less to do with design than a general disdain for the mixing commercial products with art. Those who find the site off putting for its snootiness will certainly find ample reasons to feel this way as this philosophy frequently rears its head on the blog. Author AndrÃ¡s SzÃ¡ntÃ³ for example, recently complained about a J. Crew ad featuring student art in the background, and an unrealistic depiction of clean artists in a studio. Personally, I find it refreshing that representations of artists have progressed to the point that we don’t all have to look as though we’ve just come out of some art battlefield. The glamorization of the artist may not be entirely positive, but I’ll take that over having to sleep on a futon the rest of my life because I can’t afford anything better.
Ultimately the reason I find the upturned nose of some within the “fine art” establishment so distasteful, lies in the fact that old fashioned ideas about how art should function, are almost always connected with the kind of lifestyle an artist should maintain. The price you have to pay to maintain that kind of life is unnecessary and frankly much too high.
Additional note: As anaba also observes it bears reflection that the artreview blog pretty much exclusively talks about art. This, to my mind, is the most important aspect of any websites in this field. By any standards, very little examination of art itself actually goes on at Artworld Salon.