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For the Walker Art Center, a Shop That Peddles Evanescence - NYTimes.com
"Visitors to the gift shop at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis will soon be able to buy something a little more esoteric, alongside their Chuck Close posters and Pantone mugs. “On Mother’s Day,” the promotion might go, “how about a new ringtone calibrated by the composer Nico Muhly, just for stressful family calls?”

Maybe Dad or Sis would enjoy an instruction manual for a technology that has yet to be invented — or, to unwind, a vacation property with a short commute, on the virtual network Second Life. Even more accessible is a series of images from the photographer Alec Soth, sent via Snapchat and meant to disappear moments later.

These items are all wares from Intangibles, a conceptual art pop-up store that the Walker, the contemporary-art and performance center, plans to unveil on Thursday. Created by Michele Tobin, the retail director of its gift shop, and Emmet Byrne, the museum’s design director, it is in equal parts a digital bazaar with pieces priced to sell, and an exhibition, of sorts, with curated original artworks.

It upends the logic of a regular shop. “The priority isn’t ‘get as much as you can for that item in the marketplace,’ ” Ms. Tobin said. “The priority becomes the artist’s intention and what we all think is right for that work.”

Sam Green, an innovative documentary filmmaker, will charge $2,500 to create a hybrid video-performance piece specific to the buyer. The ringtone compositions by Mr. Muhly, the modern classical arranger and musician, are $150 each. The Snapchat photos by Mr. Soth, the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim fellowship, are priced low at his request — $100 for 25 of them.

In the tradition of Conceptual art, documentation of the process is part of the point. “A lot of people won’t be purchasing actual products,” Mr. Byrne said, so “we want the online representation to be just as compelling as the objects themselves.”

The Walker sees Intangibles as blurring the boundaries between art, shopping and media. It’s hardly the first such effort: Eliding commerce and art, mass and high culture, was in vogue long before the advent of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, the SoHo store that sold clothing and other items with his work from 1986 to 2005. (It still operates online.) This month, Red Bull Studios, a gallery and performance space in Chelsea, opened the Gift Shop, its own artist-led store. But to have a museum shop peddle ideas, rather than artsy T-shirts or coveted décor, is a digital-age twist.

The experiment is also an acknowledgment that artists, especially those well versed in technology, are more comfortable in entrepreneurial roles. Where it once might have been anathema, or at least deeply uncool, for an artist to consider marketing and audience engagement — let alone inventory codes — salability and consumer savvy are now frequently embedded in original work. And not necessarily at the behest of art dealers or curators; as artists engage with potential collectors via Instagram or YouTube, they are becoming shrewd digital marketers and self-promoters. And there seems to be no shame in that.



The work of Martine Syms, a multimedia artist based in Los Angeles who explores identity, race and communication, is exhibited more often than sold; she refers to herself as “a conceptual entrepreneur” who creates “machines for ideas,” a riff on Sol LeWitt’s vision of Conceptual art. “I think of entrepreneurship as a way of creating value,” she said.

That sentiment was echoed in a more alarmist tone by the critic William Deresiewicz in a recent essay in The Atlantic titled “The Death of the Artist.” It’s no wonder, he suggests, that so many “creators” these days work in multimedia. “The point is versatility,” he wrote. “Like any good business, you try to diversify.”

For Ms. Syms, 26, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago who supports herself through freelance graphic design work, multimedia is simply a language she grew up speaking, and digital tools are a source of freedom. She has worked with galleries but is happy to showcase her work online or in do-it-yourself publications. The traditional gallery system “doesn’t give you a lot of control over your work or your audience,” she said.

“Especially for myself, a woman of color, I think that a lot of times, these systems aren’t really interested in what I’m doing or what I’m saying,” Ms. Syms added. “A lot of times, I would rather create my own world.”

For Intangibles, Ms. Syms will perform in the guise of her fictional one-woman band, Maya Angelou, on the voice mail of her buying public; the piece will be accompanied by an online blurb about the so-called band, which has yet to record a note. Ms. Syms said she didn’t want to deal directly with her customers — “I feel I’m already bad enough on the phone” — and that she likes the evanescence of voice mail, which is often automatically deleted after a certain period. (In “Surround Audience,” the current New Museum Triennial, she also has a room-size installation dealing with the shifting norms of sitcoms.)

That many of the items for sale in Intangibles are interactions rather than objects does not surprise Christine Kuan, chief curator for Artsy, the online art platform. With the growing commercialization of the art world and daily life ever more tethered to devices, “people want life experiences and memories that aren’t mass-produced for consumption, that are special and created by an artist,” she said. “It’s a kind of consumerism that is a little bit of anti-consumerism.”

Mr. Soth, whose photojournalism has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, views Snapchat as a way to engage with the changes in photography as a medium. “For me, it’s about stopping time, documenting the world, preserving it,” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Minneapolis. His 12-year-old daughter was nearby, glued to her cellphone and, he said, “communicating, as we speak, in pictures.”

For her, photography is “simply conversation,” Mr. Soth said. “And I think that’s fascinating and terrifying.”

An early adopter of many new technologies who has also started a small publishing imprint — “I either dabble with these things or I just say, ‘My time’s over’ ”— Mr. Soth, 45, explained why he didn’t want his work for Intangibles, called “Disappear With Me,” to be expensive. “When it’s less about economics, I feel freer to experiment,” he said.

Proceeds from the projects will be split between the artists and the museum. A few artists, like Ms. Syms, deferred to the Walker on pricing, which in some cases gave the organizers pause: how to assign a monetary figure to a brief message from the ersatz singer of a fake band? Ultimately, said Mr. Byrne, the design director, “we really thought that sticking to the logic of the marketplace would add some rigor. And we also knew that we are giving a better profit-share rate than galleries.” (The voice mail messages are $10 each.) Many of the artists involved said they were in it less for the money — though they viewed that exchange as a necessary part of the deal — than for the creative inspiration. The designer and engineer Julian Bleecker and the Near Future Laboratory, a research company that typically charges thousands of dollars for corporate consultations, will produce briefs on items that do not yet exist (some future antibiotic’s warning label, for example, for $19.99) — what he called “design fiction.”

There are a few literal objects, like the extra parts and doohickeys that end up in a junk drawer, marketed as “Box of Evocative Stuff,” but Mr. Bleecker said the project was mostly a conceptual provocation “to get a larger public audience to think more deeply about the implications and conveniences of new technology.”

“I’m hoping that, with a commitment of $19, we’ll have a conversation,” he said."
walkerartcenter  nearfuturelaboratory  alecsoth  2015  designfiction  art  design  intangibles  emmetbyrne  micheletobin  martinesyms  entrepreneurship  museums  museumshops  shopping  commerce  media  culture  highbrow  lowbrow  andreasangelidakis  architecture  julianbleecker  adamharvey  speculativefiction  criticaldesign  conversation  newinc  snapchat  performance  interaction  christinekuan  artsy  identity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
PLAY Stories: To Be Designed
"On Oct. 1st- 3rd, 2012, a group of designers, makers and technologists gathered in Detroit to collectively imagine and produce a piece of design fiction: a catalog of products from the future."

[See also: http://tobedesigned.nearfuturelaboratory.com/ ]
design  designfiction  tobedesigned  tbd  aaronstraupcope  brucesterling  cezannecharles  chriswoebken  christiansvaneskolding  emmetbyrne  jamesbridle  johnmarshall  julianbleecker  karldaubmann  marcgreuther  marcusbleecker  mokapantages  mickfoster  micolasnova  raphaelgrignani  tombray  maganmulholland  zackjacobson-weaver  2012  nearfuturelaboratory 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Julian Bleecker: The Future Never Gets Old — The Gradient — Walker Art Center
“I have personally been interested in the overlap of design and speculation for a while, but inviting Julian out in the context of the IWG posed a new set of questions: how can an organization like the Walker embed speculative practices into its workflow, how is interdisciplinary experimentation already inherently speculative, and when should our institution embrace a process that is not necessarily results-oriented—or at least, not in the typical sense? Speaking of mundane . . .”

[Related: Julian Bleecker on ‘Undisciplinarity’ https://vimeo.com/7196709 ]
julianbleecker  designfiction  future  futures  futurism  design  williamgibson  longtail  walkerartcenter  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarydesigngroup  emmetbyrne  susannahschouweiler  2012  nearfuturelaboratory  making  storytelling  lcproject  openstudioproject  undisciplinarity  doing  scifi  sciencefiction  innovation 
april 2013 by robertogreco
TO BE DESIGNED
"A multidisciplinary group of thinkers, makers and near future speculators will spend three days in Detroit to “do” science fiction: tangle up in fact and fiction and engage in curious crosstalk about the things that could be. The goal, then, is to Design Fiction and turn talk into deliberate actions and artifacts; to swerve the present by telling the story of a near future we imagine can be possible.

What we aim to create — to spur conversations about the things that will matter in the near future — is a near future product catalog. For example, a SkyMall, or Sears Wish Book or McMaster-Carr catalog for the near future. Think of it as a near future science fiction sourcebook of products. It’s a collection of stuff , as if that collection of stuff existed as routinely as Sasquatch garden statuettes, inflatable neck pillows, combination USB thumb drive nail clipper laser pointers, battery-powered screwdrivers, allen wrench sets and flat tire repair kits…"
production  conversation  artifactsfromthefuture  artifacts  storytelling  detroit  catalogs  skymall  nearfuture  sciencefiction  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinarythinking  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  aaronstraupcope  cezannecharles  chriswoebken  johnmarshall  jamesbridle  emmetbyrne  christiansvkolding  karldaubman  marcgreuther  tombray  mokapantages  nickfoster  raphaelgrignani  marcusbleecker  nicolasnova  julianbleecker  brucesterling  designfiction  nearfuturelaboratory 
october 2012 by robertogreco

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