Refinery29's "29 Rooms"
Art has always been ever-changing, seeking its expression via unconventional mediums which eventually become mainstream. Today your screen is the medium, and we're not talking about cinema. Art is now being created specifically to be consumed through your screen– something that is unmistakably marking a new era in art– the digital movement.
The consumption of art through screens essentially breaks into two groups; art created for screens (think gifs), and art expressed through another medium but being largely consumed through screens– which is what I'll be focusing on, for now.
There are artists who were way ahead of the game in terms of understanding this phenomenon and have harnessed all its viral powers. The first time I realized this would become a trend was when the Random International’s incredibly successful "Rain Room" was at the MoMA in 2012, the year Instagram established itself as a social media powerhouse. Then, most notoriously, came Yayoi Kusama, who’s "Infinity Mirror Rooms" have been shared, Retweeted, Tumblred and Pinterested to death. Last year, it was Pipilotti Rist's "Pixel Forest" at the New Museum. All these shows looked stunning photographed, and attracted the corresponding crowd.
While the growing popularity of art and art shows can be a great thing, it is bothersome that instead of experiencing these shows through our own eyes and senses, most people see the show through their phone's camera lens– switching from Snapchat to Instagram to Facebook to VSCO to Pinterest, while being there in person. If you go through the whole process; snapping, filtering, tagging, setting location, captioning and then making sure its all aligned with your personal aesthetic before you post it is a waste of everyone's time– yours, the artists, the people behind you watching you do all this while they wait for their turn— post it later.
Pipilotti Rist's "Pixel Forest"
Random International’s "Rain Room"
Kusama's "Infinity Mirror Rooms"
After interviewing artists for Howl Magazine for over a year now something is clear— most of us are ready to move away from the art world's current business model and we are taking that change into our hands. This is something powerful the internet is helping us do by democratizing the way the 1% of art collectors control what is of value or quality; Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are functioning as interactive digital galleries. However, let us not allow the internet to take from us the delicious nuances of art that can only be experienced up close and in the flesh. If you're lucky enough to attend an art show in person, don't experience everything through your phone. Might as well throw some ketchup on a beautiful $100 steak.
The irony of "immersive art experiences" is that they are becoming less immersive and more 2D. This isn't necessarily a bad thing– it is what it is. The consumers of art will eventually have to take responsibility for the kind of product they are demanding, and the creators of art will have to check themselves.
A quick example: The Museum of Feelings popped up in NYC a couple years ago and seemed super cool, therefore I got in line with my mom for a ridiculous amount of time. I still get infuriated thinking about it. It was literally just a set of rooms perfectly arranged to be Instagrammed. They shoved their hashtag #MuseumOfFeelings down our throats, and I saw in many people's faces the disappointment, and in other people's faces the utter joy of such a fab instagram opportunity. This was, for me, the ultimate example of trendy, disposable and insignificant art. FYI, the Museum of Feelings was produced by Glade, the freaking scented candles and cleaning products, as an opportunity for product placement (each roomed smelled like some variation of your great-aunt's living room). There was literally a Glade candle shop at the end of the "museum" that my mom exited in an outburst of rage, to my delight.
The Museum Of Feelings
In a time where all these quick formulas to gain popularity, virality, and a big social media following exist, it can be so alluring as an artist to fall prey to the easy attention. And hey, if you choose this path on purpose, follow your bliss. I'm not out here to be all righteous, I actually love neon art and conceptual hipster performances– and some art can just be fun— Most of the shows I mentioned above were sensational.
What it all really comes down to is the artists' authenticity and intent, and that is the ultimate test of time for a work of art. •
Originally published Feb 17, 2018