The Drawing Center has invited me to participate in a "Curator Slam" this Friday to celebrate the launch of their new Online Viewing Program. One of the Center's greatest strengths has been its slide registry, which enabled artists who hadn't shown in New York before to get their work in front of collectors, curators, dealers, critics, and the public.
Now the Viewing Program is available online, and offers a variety of search techniques--by medium, artist location, keyword, date, and artists' text--to dig into the registry.
The Curator Slam will be--I'm told--a live, real-time curating/surfing event, where several of us simultaneously search the registry in front of the crowd, in order to put together a virtual exhibit of works on a given theme [to be provided that night, possibly via a fancy envelope or a fishbowl full of paper scraps.]
So far, I've played around with the Registry a bit, trying to see what kinds of results various searches produce. I can already feel that the "exhibit" produced will be as much about the process and the search tool as about the work or the artists. Reviewing work from gridded thumbnails inevitably impacts how and what you see; intimate subtleties are lost, while bold or easily read gestures and compositions are, well, easily read. Likewise, the artist's statement and her very words, in fact, take on a more prominent role than they ever would in a gallery. It's literally a filter by which the registry audience reaches the work. [On the other hand, I can't imagine a single reason why the artist's hometown would be relevant for searching/discovering his work. Though there are plenty of non-art reasons I can think of...]
The slam is free, and if you're in town and easily amused, I would love to have a sympathetic face or two in the crowd--or at least an articulate heckler. It starts at 6:30, which gives you plenty of time to get in and out of Lucky Strike afterwards, and on with the rest of your evening.