(ART AS OBJECT) is obsolete
(ART AS OBJECT) is art
In the summer of 1997 I packed the contents of my painting studio into a rented storage space. In two years of exploring the web, my paints and brushes had gathered dust and it was clear that I wasn't going back, at least not soon. Ten years of painting fit snugly ino a space 5 feet wide, 5 feet deep and 8 feet hight. 200 cubic feet. 200 paintings on 22 x 30 inch watercolor paper. About 100 paintings on canvas, mostly 4 by 6 feet, removed from the stetchers.
I worked in a fast, loose, abstract expressionist style that was fun at the time but produced a lot of aesthetic debris. Leftovers. Not good enough to show, but too good to throw out. With no one to see the paintings they aren't really art anymore. Stored unseen in a kind of limbo, I am the only person that knows they exist.
While my paintings gathered dust I was showing art online, each week receiving more visitors than I did in my entire career as a painter.
The internet is more than a new medium. It is an alternative method for framing and presenting an aesthetic experience. The gallery/museum model, where scarce, unique objects are shown in exclusive, high-rent spaces, is challenged by the web, where real estate is cheap, accessible and there is no single object to point to. In the internet you have a medium that can easily distribute an aesthetic experience over a worldwide network directly to the home of anyone with a PC. By contrast, painting is a medium of pigment, binder, canvas, wood, staples, and paper, all used to fabricate an object for a small audience in a small number of urban spaces.
The internet creates a space where artwork can exist as an experience, not as an object, and in a sense that makes the art object obsolete. No longer the only means of presenting aesthetic ideas, the physical work of art has lost it's place on the pedestal.
It seems fitting that the precious art object, made obsolete by a mass medium, would be reborn as an object of mass consumption. In Studio Clearance Sale the art object, so carefully crafted and exquisitely packaged within the framework of gallery and museum, becomes packaging itself. Now accessible, consumable and mundane, the glorified object is both demoted and freed by its descent into the secular world.