A recent article in the New York Sun describes a Flickr-based project called “Impressions of MoMA” or iMOMA, in which photos of the MOMA’s collection have been gathered together–150,000 items not counting the video and film libraries. Started last August by brothers Travis and Brady Hammond, iMOMA now includes 11,000 photos taken by over 2,000 individuals. “With mobile phones, everyone is an artist,” Brady Hammond said. “It would be the ultimate postmodern gallery.”
While iMOMA is conceptual, po-mo and wikified fun, it is just a more organized version of what is happening everywhere. Too many people busy capturing images rather than really looking, loading up on snapshots rather than the experience itself. Bad copies of copies, thumbnails as stand ins (this blog and others are full of postage stamp-sized versions of images that serve as a type of visual tagging system), the general proliferation of clones–this revolution has happened in other fields as well, most notably music. While the intellectual property issues in the visual arts are not trivial, they are of less concern to me than a metaphysical one–the distancing taking place between an object with artistic intentions and the recipient, or viewer.
The art I hold in highest regard demands full immersion, which requires a face to face, in the flesh experience. While some argue that the concept of an “original” is quaint and out of step with a new media cyberdized world, I have felt the energy field that surrounds some works, an aura that cannot be captured or simulated regardless of how high tech your device may be. I’d guess most of us agree that there are several categories of human experience that will never be fully simulated. Sex and art both depend on an exchange of energy to be successful and meaningful, and no cell phone can bring me the full body experience I’ve had standing in the Rothko Chapel or the Dia: Beacon’s Agnes Martin gallery.
So isn’t this best cast as a both/and? It is exciting to see new forms like iMOMA bubble up. But making art into a fun and entertaining card game is no replacement for the pilgrimage.
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