Tag Archives: Facebook

The Future of Street Art

Will in the future street art have that church fete moment? When the artist discovers their own work amongst some tatty lamps and ornaments. All the magic has been sucked out, the art reduced to an outdated fashion object for sale at a discount price. This is also the point when collectors start rummage through garage sales looking for treasures from the past.

Will street art become just another viral meme on the Internet? The image of day – something that you look at for a few seconds, “like” or “share” on Facebook and then forgot. Instant classics like instant coffee are lacking so many qualities. This is also the point where street art becomes democratic and the institutions of the art curators, collectors and academic critics are overturned.

Will street art become another step in the career path of artists on their way to major galleries or corporate sponsorship? Major art galleries around the world competed to show the first, major street art exhibitions. In the future Melbourne could have a street art gallery where the crowds exit through the gift shop to buy the t-shirt, posters and other souvenirs. This is also the point that street art becomes an art movement recognized in books on the history of art.

Adnate & Slicer "Nothing Lasts Forever" Brunswick Station

Adnate & Slicer “Nothing Lasts Forever” Brunswick Station

Or will street art remain a kind of design/craft? Street art has always been so close to a craft as design, illustration and craft are major features of street art. Street art is the folk art of the 21st Century. Folk aren’t making corn dollies anymore or whittling wood – we are urban folk now and we use of modern technology: spray cans, Photoshop colour separation, modern printing technology for and modern materials for vinyl stickers and photocopy enlargements.

Design/craft are both a strength and weakness for street art. Often there isn’t much more to street art than craft and daring. Take that away and you are left with things like Ghostpatrol illustrations on limited edition ceramic plates. Sure there are exhibitions of basket weaving and patchwork quilts at major art galleries and I’m not disputing the quality and craftsmanship of William Morris wallpaper, nor the relevance of exhibiting a sample of his wallpaper in an art gallery but it is great design/craft and not great art.

Popular culture theories applied to street art shows the usual trends. There is the conservative theory of mass society where moral and aesthetic degradation accompanies a loss of authority. There is the left wing/structural theory of culture industry where the culture industry adopts and capitalizing on street art in the same way those other groups, the punks and the hippies were adopted. And there is the whiggish theory of progressive evolution leading to more democratic participation and more authentic opportunities for personal expression. All of these theories can be supported with some choice examples from street art – the question is which of these theories street artists are going to apply to their own work.

These popular culture theories are could be portrayed as class based. The institutional elites are conservative because it protects their control of culture. The institutional theory appears Marxist in considering the culture industries as just another way of making a living by manufacturing widgets – art/design/craft makes no difference. And the whiggish, internet-idealist progressive theory can quickly degenerate into a Facebook ‘Like’. The issue of street artists “selling out” and making money only applies in the progressive theory.

Maybe it was seeing Banksy’s film “Exit Through the Gift Shop” and Thierry Guetta’s mass-produced, copyright violations, massively hyped art that put the fear into me. This is the way that street art ends, not with a bang, not with a whimper but with something crass and stupid.

Dface, spray cans, 2011

Dface, spray cans, 2011


Like This

On Friday evening I went to the opening of “You Like This – concerning love, life and FACEBOOK” curated by Vinisha Mulani and Alister Karl at Brunswick Arts. This is not the first exhibition about Facebook; last year there was an exhibition at Dark Horse, “Facebook project” but I didn’t get to that exhibition.

I liked the Brunswick Arts exhibition; each of the artists had their own wall, like in Facebook, except this was an actual gallery wall. Peter Davidson took this took this further and made an actual wall, instead of a virtual one, with a string time line, photos and index cards for each entry.

Jenna Corcoran “Facebook is a dirty word”, (blue wool and nails) 2012

I particularly like Jenna Corcoran’s “Facebook is a dirty word” (blue wool and nails). That is the problem, although most art is only looked at for a few seconds, Facebook is reducing everything to eye-candy and gossip.

Jamie Rawls video “like totally” was a montage of people using the word ‘like’. Like wow, man. “Like” is such a mild positive statement, it is also a simile drawing a comparison between two things, not an equivalence like a metaphor just a comparison. (Like Californians didn’t say like enough already before Facebook and, of course, everyone wants a dislike button on Facebook – a thumbs down to massacres, dictators and other ugly things.)

The rest of the exhibitors were not as focused on Facebook as the concept of liking which was explored by Vinisha Mulani with a series of photographs that visitors were to attach blue like stickers. Or internet stalking explored by Alister Karl with a creepy computer installation, “Stalkbook”.

Facebook is so ubiquitous that it is hard to sum up. In the past I used to see travelers in Internet cafes reading Hotmail, then it changed and every computer screen was on Facebook. The two most obvious ways that Facebook has changed art in Melbourne are Facebook events for exhibitions and Facebook entities. Facebook events allow the galleries a better idea of how many people might be attending and to communicate with those people intending to attend. This free alternative to advertising in publications like Art Almanac, InTrouble and other paid gallery listing. Brunswick Arts exhibition was put together and promoted through Facebook.

And Facebook provides a forum for artists and galleries to communicate directly with their patrons. As a forum, Facebook has lead to the creation of a kind of micro bloggers who post regular photos and other information.

It hasn’t been a dramatic change. Facebook has been a small influence on art, mostly street art. I “Like” the seepage between the internet and the street.

Peter Tyndall writes in his blog about the way that social media and the sculpt society. Art Business has a page of do’s and don’ts for social networking for artists. I have a Facebook page for myself as a public figure (art critic). You can “Like” Black Mark, Melbourne Art & Culture Critic’s Facebook page.

Like this on Facebook.


Reader’s Poll

It is easy to become addicted to the daily stats of readers displayed on WordPress and like me many bloggers are checking their stats daily. Even with this constant attention and information about referrals, links, search terms and shares it is still very hard to predict what blog entries will attract the most readers. A big influence on the daily views is if it gets shared by a lot of people on Facebook. I can make broad generalizations that certain galleries, like the NGV, and certain celebrity artists, do attract more readers. But I would like more feedback.

I have been trying out features on WordPress. This time I am trying out a poll to find out what type of stories my readers are most interested. I know that polls like these are rather crude instruments for gauging opinions but if you want to leave more detailed feedback please comment. I am particularly interested in the opinions of subscribers and other regular readers. (WordPress has recently changed the way that they record subscribers so I have a lot more than I thought I did last year.)

Thank you for your participation.


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