Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Left My 'Art in San Francisco

Cupid's Span

Last night I attended a reception relating to SFMOMA. I don't want to be precise about the details because I've not asked  the people involved for permission to do so. What I do want to record is my excitement and thrill regarding several of the dialogs that took place during this reception regarding Internet Art.

My feeling is that Internet art -  just like so many other things that relate to the Internet - will be launched, bloom and prosper somewhere around San Francisco and the Bay Area. It logically follows that the progenitors of such an art movement would be in the same age group as are all the current flock of Internet titans and techies.  Thus the people I have been interested in talking to have been roughly 24 to 36 years old.

Well, the attendees of  last night's reception were - gasp! -  in my age group. And they became excited really excited about talking and considering Internet Art. Shock and awe. My age group is always telling me how much better paper is than screens or putting oil on canvas will forever reign as the supreme art or real musicians play cellos and pianos. Not so last night. I heard some very conscious acknowledgments on the validity of Internet Art.

Why did this happen? Why did this group of people really spark up? I think the thing that is special about this group of people is that they are all collectors of contemporary art including new media. These people have few pre-conditions that art can only takes place on certain accepted forms of media. The eyes and ears of these collectors are open to being informed by any channel that attempts to communicate.  And, thus, these collectors are perfectly happy in considering the Internet as a valid art delivery system as valid as any other media.

This is a breakthrough for me. I have thought that the people who would be naturally, organically interested in collecting Internet Art would be the young techie professionals that live, breath and fly on the Internet. And then they go off and purchase condos in art moderne buildings and fill them full of pop-surrealism paintings. Sure I am happy for them.  "But what about the art of the Internet?" I scream. Shrug and a blank stare.

But not last night. Yay! And there was one moment that was really special. I was talking to a lady who is a really good collector. She's so good that if I say anything more you'll know who she is. Anyway, she's really interested in in what I was talking about and even in pursuing the conversation. But she had this really strict admonition. In no uncertain terms, she plainly and sternly stated: "It must be fun!"

Click. My mind does a thump-click. Over the last two years I have researched (from time to time) reasons on why people collect art (or anything for that matter). Frankly, the psychology of art collecting is not a very well documented topic. And when it is, the discussion usually revolves around things like preservation, research, bringing attention and all matter of technical aspects. But these are pretty much all things that museums do. And if there is one thing I've learned being around museums and collectors is that what they both do is not the same at all. But it's hard to put your finger on why. Yes, they both follow a very parallel path. But, bingo,  museums don't acquire works just simply for the fun of it.

So, yes, kind lady of last night I have heard and retained your collector's credo: collecting must be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. And the fun we are talking about is the big fun. It includes tickling and giggling. And it includes schadenfreude.  It includes singing the blues and laughing at a funeral. And much more. And we''ll explore the psychology and motivation of this credo more later I'm sure. But for now it's time to go out and have some, you guessed it, fun...

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