Sabrina Ratte – Futures 1050

Art Writing: Rachel Reese

No.: Futures 002
TopicArt Writing

Prompt: Describe a possible future for art writing. Specifically, submit an idea that addresses either the economics of art writing or new models/new media for art publishing that could change the field. This could be a new idea or a recent project that deserves attention.

Attempt: Occupying my recent thoughts are concerns with how we experience text and visual imagery online, with specific relationship to the “page,” and questioning the equilibrium between consciously slowing down reading experiences online or embracing new web-platforms and web experiences. I don’t think there is a definitive answer or needs to be one, but it is an inquiry I’m concentrated on at the moment. Websites are changing rapidly in an attempt to keep up with our shorter attention spans and under-comprehension of information and content, and part of me is always at odds with this in a formulated effort to physically print my own publication and read physical material.

Within this thought is Triple Canopy’s Alongslide, a new presenter platform for digital projects by artists and writers that aims to slow down the online viewing experience through user navigation. For instance, clicking might only guarantee one image rotates out, but the text on the screen (digital page) remains static, or vice versa. It’s sort of a counter-intuitive challenge for our tab-happy, streaming, scrolling, bored, passively-entertained selves to read content online. Also James Elkins’ Writing with Images project, a part of his larger Live Writing Project–aiming to “expose writing while it’s in process, instead of working until it’s presentable or finished–considers how text can be image and publishing images without captions, and is taking my attention recently.

We haven’t resolved out a comparable translation from print to digital experiences, and the standard conventions for reading “text” and reading “image” still seem to dominate publishing forms of art criticism. Now the myriad of publishing forms and avenues: essays, e-books, print publications, exhibitions, artist editions, public programs, and sound works, should be presented in concert with one another as plurality rules the day. I believe a great tumblr, facebook conversations, or audio programming can be diligent art criticism. With this in mind, I’d like to encourage online arts magazines to publish a range of critical material, especially not overlooking long form writing and scholarly essays. In consideration for an artist’s work and practice, longer form writing provides needed research-based contextualization and thought, and is important for both the artist’s archive and the publication’s. In smaller arts communities with artists reliant on regional-based publications, a platform for longer form writing will only serve to elevate the discourse and educate the community at large.

Author: Rachel Reese, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Possible Press and Communications Director at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center

Futures is a new series that presents speculations about emerging models, responses to ongoing crises and a catalogue of possible futures. Responding to the etymology of “essay” as an “attempt,” this micro essay format invites diverse voices to address pressing issues in the arts.

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