Playlist Opens Tonight at Postmasters!

by Paddy Johnson on December 9, 2010 · 7 comments Posting Notice

Hope Atherton, Gavin Brown and Elizabeth Peyton

I’d love to report on last night’s Rob Pruitt’s Art Award show at Webster Hall, but since Playlist, an exhibition of artist youtube playlists curated by myself and Steven Stern opens tonight at Postmasters my hands are tied. Those looking for minute by minute commentary on last night’s show and its winners should visit my twitter page (Jerry Saltz beat out me, Howard Halle, and Linda Yablonsky in the Critic of the Year category).

I’ll be busy the rest of the day with exhibition preparations. Please join me tonight 6-8 at Postmasters for the opening of Playlist. Check out the website here. From the press release:

A response to “Play”, the Guggenheim's recent YouTube exhibition and exercise in co-branding, “Playlist” is about how people actually use online video today. It's a peek at the “favorites” of a select group of artists, writers, and musicians; it's an exercise in sharing, taking place in the old-fashioned realm of actual public space. It doesn't add anything new to the world—instead, it looks at the strange archival richness that's already there on the Net.


December 9 — January 1, 2010
opening reception: Thursday December 9 6-8 pm


Oscar December 9, 2010 at 9:11 pm
Will Brand December 10, 2010 at 7:05 pm

You’re right, and there are other examples of YouTube shows I could think of. If you’re implying Playlist is somehow cheapened by lacking novelty, though, I disagree: it’s a relatively new way of organizing a show, but not a way of organizing a show dependent on newness. I think the review you linked gets it right. Virginia spends almost all of her time discussing the playlists/works in the show, and almost none of it discussing the curatorial choices. To worry too much about the concept is to ignore the decisions Paddy had to make with regard to the artists selected, and particularly the decisions the artists had to make with regard to the videos selected. There’re other shows of YouTube playlists, but there’re a lot of shows of paintings, too.

Anonymous December 12, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Heffernan didn’t have to “worry” about the concept because it hadn’t been done before! Will, we had an interesting discussion a few weeks ago where you proposed the idea of a gallery show consisting of works that failed to translate the internet into real space, or that concentrated only on the inherent limits of such an endeavor. One category of such work might be social media “playlists” where the “artist” undergoes a transformation from “one of the gang,” a peer picking “favs,” to an all-seeing, all-knowing, Roland Barthes-like genius who steps outside the fray and plucks his/her former peers out of their former shared environment for gallery delectation, like Gulliver grabbing Lilliputians. Haven’t seen this show yet, but it doesn’t seem to buck the trend started by the Kitchen and continuing with the Guggenheim. Will let you know.

Artfagcity December 12, 2010 at 5:42 pm

As the press release for this show states, is no claim that this show will change the world. Certainly, it’s not about transforming the artist into all-seeing, all-knowing beings. For this reason, not all the participants in the show are artists or even necessarily spend a huge amount of time on youtube. There is a cross-section of participants, ranging from very savvy users, to those who use the site casually. We wanted the show to reflect the cross section of people who use it, albeit with a focus on the creative fields.

Past this, the exhibition design is set up with a projection screen of youtube videos playing constantly on a loop (the art), a website displaying the videos on a computer at a desk table (the web). The hope is the difference between what happens to youtube videos when they are on the web and when they are transformed into “art” via projection screen would be made visible. For this reason, we chose to do the show in a gallery

Now, it’s possible viewers will come to the conclusion that the art part — the giant video projection in a gallery — isn’t all that interesting. That’s fine. The point for me, was to work with inherent limitations of the medium, both online and as a fine art product. I wanted to product in both the case of the art and the video to be as honest as possible.

I should mention that, one of the reasons Will’s piece is so critical to the show — a youtube list made exclusively from the recommended links — is that it very explicitly seeks to work with the limitations of the medium. This process is completely lost once off the net and on the projection screen, which of course is a limitation. But the point is that this difference is illuminated, not swept under the rug because in the context of art it doesn’t make sense.

Will Brand December 13, 2010 at 9:13 pm

You know, I was talking to a friend about my piece, and he said he thought he’d like it more with two or three channels, with Ryan’s videos in the middle, so the idea of putting them in context was made explicit in the display; in the process, of course, you’d lose the very YouTubey characteristic of only showing one video on screen at a time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I really can’t figure out whether that would be better or worse. I think that impasse – that art custom-net custom dialectic – is super important, not only to my piece but to Paddy’s installation (as she said) and really to a lot of Net Art. That’s not a novel thought or anything, but I’m jus’ sayin’.

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