things that are cool

It’s so beautiful here, despite a fire that is causing some haziness. I grew up in California, and we did a lot of hiking and camping in the Sierras. It’s nice to be out West again.

I’m helping to lead a workshop on internet skills for artists. I’m so excited to be teaching and facilitating, working with really smart, cool artists (both the other teachers and all the participants).

So, here’s to feeling useful and to learning.

An interesting read on Slate from By Evgeny  Morozov and the site’s FutureTense blog.

Pitfalls…using a new fundraising model to fund archaic methods of distribution…for one. It would be really frustrating (dare I say, ironic?) to fund a film that would never be distributed in the town where you live, or that wouldn’t be released online so that you, the funder, could see it.

But this article also touches on a serious problem of Kickstarter, which is that the fundamental market process upon which it is based (the exchange of financial support for the reward of seeing the project completed) is not holding up:

Such phenomenal success has attracted its fair share of criticisms. Some, like NPR, have bashed Kickstarter for being rather opaque about how it deals with projects that, once funded, provide few (or questionable) updates on their progress, face significant delays, or never deliver at all. Those aren’t few: A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania looked at 47,000 Kickstarter projects and found that more than 75 percent deliver with delays. It’s hard to say how many projects never deliver, as for Kickstarter “never” is a rather flexible term: Instead of acknowledging failure, many doomed projects simply drag on indefinitely, providing no updates and constantly postponing the launch date.

I have funded projects and not gotten my reward (ahem, you probably don’t read this blog but you know who you are), but I have never yet funded a project that has ultimately failed to occur. In fact, I like that my rewards are a little late because the people are too busy actually launching a magazine or building an interactive sculpture or writing a play. But I have also never funded a stranger’s project. But if 3/4 of the projects are failing to execute, the model shouldn’t be called Kickstarter, it should be called Kick-sputter out. (Boo! that is a terrible joke!)

As an aside: In some industries, distribution is everything. In industries where the model for distribution has radically shifted (like the music industry), we see impact on every level. It is really painful for filmmakers to raise money, make a film, and then to lack the resources for a release on theater screens. In film, the barriers to market entry are really high. But online distribution is changing this, though it depends on your goal. If you goal is to get butts in seats in physical movie theaters, you have a challenge. If your goal is to get eyes on your work on a laptop or a iPhone screen, new opportunities abound. It depends what you as an artist want, and how you can find ways to get paid. See Louie CK for advice.

This article on “International Art English” co-authored by the University of Chicago’s own David Levine is so fantastic, and such a brilliant criticism of the atrocious writing that plagues the visual art world (and, probably, to a lesser extent, the arts in general). I laughed so hard reading this.

A taste, from the most recent Triple Canopy:

“IAE has a distinctive lexicon: aporiaradicallyspace, propositionbiopoliticaltensiontransversalautonomy. An artist’s work inevitably interrogates, questions, encodes, transforms, subverts, imbricates, displaces—though often it doesn’t do these things so much as it serves to, functions to, or seems to (or might seem to) do these things. IAE rebukes English for its lack of nouns: Visual becomes visualityglobal becomes globality, potential becomes potentialityexperience becomes … experiencability.”

Brilliant! Read this. I have vivid memories (from a former job) of reading various documents produced by my department and feeling at once overwhelmed and totally irritated. These writings are, in and of themselves, pieces of work, and they do not serve to elucidate the artists’ meaning or intent. I left that job feeling like I didn’t understand how to speak English. Now I know why: I was actually reading transliterated French philosophical jargon from the 1950s.

My life makes sense now. Thanks to Jack for sharing this with me.

For further enjoyment: The Artist John Russell’s ‘Fax Bak’ Service 

(forgive this bonkers formatting on the quote, it makes me so sad)

This is what I am talking about! Thank you. Incentivizing the adoption of professional, positive management techniques is the best thing I have heard all day.

It’s like these people reached inside my brain:

“People in this sector, just like scientists and doctors, get promoted because of their issue expertise and then no one really ever teaches them how to manage,” said Jerry Hauser, the center’s chief executive and a former consultant at McKinsey & Company. “Then it becomes a vicious cycle, where the next generation coming up in an organization comes up under someone who doesn’t know how to manage.”

Now I know where I want to go work.

Link: NY Times: Philanthropists Start Requiring Management Training 

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