Art Curating on the Internet Meets Mediocrity

by Art Fag City on October 29, 2007 · 21 comments Events

ffffound.jpg
First two images via FFFOUND! at 12:00 am Monday Morning Left: Creepy Hands Kid, Right: And No More Turn Aside and Brood

Popular blogger Jason Kottke takes the bizarre position Friday that the group image blog FFFFOUND! represents the successful democratization of the web and a new form of art curating. Considering Kottke spends most the day selecting from the net himself, I find it odd he would think any mass curation tool overly effective when most things managed by crowds are mediocre. Underscoring this point, the first two masterpieces I saw on FFFOUND! — Creepy Hands Kid, and a woman posing in her underwear — [pictured above] exemplify images that have had the title art applied to them willie nillie. Nasty Nets, a group art blog, where art sometimes occurs, also provides a good example of how too many voices can water down the content of merit. To wit, Damon Zucconi‘s post highlighting giant cell phone lodged in a car, certainly goes a long way in testing the notion that the Internet flattens heirarchy.

Kottke takes the concept of art curating further however, going on to observe,

In the case of FFFFOUND! and other RCOPIWSs, I would argue that these sites showcase a new form of art curating. The pace is faster, you don’t need a physical gallery or museum, and you don’t need to worry about crossing arbitrary boundaries of style or media. Nor do you need to concern yourself with questions like “is this person an artist or an outsider artist?” If a particular piece is good or compelling or noteworthy, in it goes.

I hate to be the party pooper on this Internet celebration parade, but one of the problems with this kind of curating lies precisely in the fact that very little background information is ever provided. I don’t always require it mind you, but it is useful to know the historical background on posted images, and the general background a reader might find from wikipedia isn’t necessarily sufficient. While I like the fact that art may reach more people via blogs and websites, you’re never going to convince me that there is an arbitrariness to the boundaries of style and media. I’ve seen enough bad design in the Fine Art World, and easy art championed by culture lovers, to be able to say with some certainty that the skill sets are not as transferable as they are made out to be.

  • http://joesnyc.streetnine.com/ Joe

    This kind of “Let’s Kill All the Editors” thing has been promised so many times, and as far as I know, has consistently produced lots and lots of dreck. (From Project Greenlight we got the snoozer Stolen Summer, from self-publishers we got countless unreadable books, etc. etc.) I’m keeping my mind open, but judging from the history, I’m not optimistic.

  • http://joesnyc.streetnine.com/ Joe

    This kind of “Let’s Kill All the Editors” thing has been promised so many times, and as far as I know, has consistently produced lots and lots of dreck. (From Project Greenlight we got the snoozer Stolen Summer, from self-publishers we got countless unreadable books, etc. etc.) I’m keeping my mind open, but judging from the history, I’m not optimistic.

  • http://kevindriscoll.info/todomundo kevin

    with the volume of info available, we need editors and curators more than ever. that’s why DJs superseded guitar players in the 90s.

    sing it!

  • http://kevindriscoll.info/todomundo kevin

    with the volume of info available, we need editors and curators more than ever. that’s why DJs superseded guitar players in the 90s.

    sing it!

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  • http://www.marshallastor.com Marshall

    This kind of thing has been in its infancy for years. It’s like the one night group art/party shows that they do in every major cities, only with even worse art. These things succeed because there are enough desperate junior artists out there with no direction who will do anything to get into a show, no matter how bad. Then they swirl around like jetsam for years, going nowhere while they drink up the Pabst and pat themselves on the back.

    In full disclosure, I am a curator, but I agree with Kevin – we need (good) curators and editors even more than ever.

  • http://www.marshallastor.com Marshall

    This kind of thing has been in its infancy for years. It’s like the one night group art/party shows that they do in every major cities, only with even worse art. These things succeed because there are enough desperate junior artists out there with no direction who will do anything to get into a show, no matter how bad. Then they swirl around like jetsam for years, going nowhere while they drink up the Pabst and pat themselves on the back.

    In full disclosure, I am a curator, but I agree with Kevin – we need (good) curators and editors even more than ever.

  • http://avspace.org trav

    interesting post. it kind of makes me realize that the gap between design and fine art is pretty large at times. some of those mediocre “curated” sites are perfect for designers to take a look at to maybe jump up their creative energy in a down spell. perhaps that might be all they are good for.

    one can only hope that the current style over substance culture we’ve been experiencing will disappear soon enough to be replaced by something huge and worthwhile.

  • http://avspace.org trav

    interesting post. it kind of makes me realize that the gap between design and fine art is pretty large at times. some of those mediocre “curated” sites are perfect for designers to take a look at to maybe jump up their creative energy in a down spell. perhaps that might be all they are good for.

    one can only hope that the current style over substance culture we’ve been experiencing will disappear soon enough to be replaced by something huge and worthwhile.

  • http://www.geartekcorporation.com Kevin B.

    Didn’t you hear? Mediocrity is all we have left. Mediocrity is within you. Mediocrity is within us all. Instead of being inspired by greatness, let us all be inspired by mediocrity.

  • http://www.geartekcorporation.com Kevin B.

    Didn’t you hear? Mediocrity is all we have left. Mediocrity is within you. Mediocrity is within us all. Instead of being inspired by greatness, let us all be inspired by mediocrity.

  • http://www.stevenread.com stephe

    Yeah, not so sure mediocrity is a bad thing. Nor is striving for excellence. Nor is completely sucking. Each goal is worthy, each goal has an audience (as trav suggests), and each its own types of ‘curators’ perhaps? I will admit that I’ve been bored for years of the curation style where one tries to direct (sometimes squeezing) different artist’s pieces into a lofty theme. Not that I’m anti-curation, but sometimes it goes too far and maybe these vvork ffound sites are helping to swing things another direction.

  • http://www.stevenread.com stephe

    Yeah, not so sure mediocrity is a bad thing. Nor is striving for excellence. Nor is completely sucking. Each goal is worthy, each goal has an audience (as trav suggests), and each its own types of ‘curators’ perhaps? I will admit that I’ve been bored for years of the curation style where one tries to direct (sometimes squeezing) different artist’s pieces into a lofty theme. Not that I’m anti-curation, but sometimes it goes too far and maybe these vvork ffound sites are helping to swing things another direction.

  • http://jeweledplatypus.org/ Britta

    Kottke is himself a mediocre curator though, selecting warmed-over bits of the web that have already been discussed elsewhere. I think Metafilter, as a crowd blog that encourages including context in posts, selects from the web more interestingly than he does and doesn’t pretend to say that it’s curating or editing.

  • http://jeweledplatypus.org/ Britta

    Kottke is himself a mediocre curator though, selecting warmed-over bits of the web that have already been discussed elsewhere. I think Metafilter, as a crowd blog that encourages including context in posts, selects from the web more interestingly than he does and doesn’t pretend to say that it’s curating or editing.

  • lowcast

    FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

  • http://: lowcast

    FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

  • Art Fag City

    Lowcast: I don’t think so. If words were posted past my last comment on Nasty Net, they aren’t continuing here. I agree with the puppy and am closing this thread.

  • Art Fag City

    Lowcast: I don’t think so. If words were posted past my last comment on Nasty Net, they aren’t continuing here. I agree with the puppy and am closing this thread.

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