Image via: Bad Paintings of Barack Obama
Representing more “traditional” art curation this Saturday on the SXSW Interactive panel, Curating the Crowd-Sourced World, I discussed the necessity of curating material culled by Internet users with my esteemed panel members. Pretty much everyone — Jen Bekman of Jen Bekman Projects, Nion McEvoy, CEO of Chronicle Books, Dustin Hostetler, Special Projects Curator for Threadless and founder of the art magazine Faesthetic, and Gina Trapani, Founding Editor of Lifehacker — agreed on the necessity of curating the “curation”, though a lot of the talk simply addressed the concerns of crowd management. Anyone in Internet publishing deals with these concerns on a daily basis, so it’s not surprising the panel spent a fair amount time on the subject.
Amongst the more salient points brought to light, Gina Tripani observed that strongly devoted crowds can create an “echo chamber”, in which popular ideas get moe popular and interesting fringe ideas are muted. Though I likely wouldn’t have thought about it as a curated crowd issue, certainly, Art Fag City has suffered from some of these issues. Wikipedia Art, for example generated a thread of comments on the blog almost wholly panning the piece, while over at Rhizome the conversation looked very different.
I don’t know that anyone disagreed with me on the panel, but I suspect what got me labeled as the “more traditional” media model, comes from the fact that I’m a critic representing the values of an established professional field. In other words, I don’t think evaluating art is wholly subjective, there are means to measure value, and the greater accessibility of art on the web does not correlate to a mass of viewers and makers with equally discerning taste. Structures built upon the knowledge that expertise doesn’t grow in a vaccum however, — various internet publishing and distribution platforms for example — do make for better critics. And thank God, for that.
Update: The podcast here.