After Art

After Art

After Art

After Art

Synopsis

Art as we know it is dramatically changing, but popular and critical responses lag behind. In this trenchant illustrated essay, David Joselit describes how art and architecture are being transformed in the age of Google. Under the dual pressures of digital technology, which allows images to be reformatted and disseminated effortlessly, and the exponential acceleration of cultural exchange enabled by globalization, artists and architects are emphasizing networks as never before. Some of the most interesting contemporary work in both fields is now based on visualizing patterns of dissemination after objects and structures are produced, and after they enter into, and even establish, diverse networks. Behaving like human search engines, artists and architects sort, capture, and reformat existing content. Works of art crystallize out of populations of images, and buildings emerge out of the dynamics of the circulation patterns they will house.


Examining the work of architectural firms such as OMA, Reiser + Umemoto, and Foreign Office, as well as the art of Matthew Barney, Ai Weiwei, Sherrie Levine, and many others, After Art provides a compelling and original theory of art and architecture in the age of global networks.

Excerpt

The scale at which images proliferate and the speed with which they travel have never been greater. Under these conditions, images appear to be free, but they carry a price. Commenting to the New York Times on the 2010 rebound of Art Basel, the world’s most prestigious modern and contemporary art fair, American collector Donald Rubell declared with no apparent irony, “People are now realizing that art is an international currency.” (The new museums designed for cities around the world by star architects like Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Jacques Herzog, and Pierre de Meuron would thus function as the art world’s central banks.) in a time of economic instability, precipitated by worldwide financial failures since 2008, people now see art as an international currency. Art is a fungible hedge. Its value (at least the value of art sold at fairs like Art Basel, in prestigious auction houses, and at blue-chip galleries throughout the world) must cross borders as easily as the dollar, the euro, the yen, and the renminbi. By definition, a currency moves freely (though not . . .

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