Friday, December 28, 2012

Seconds and hours and art

Johnny Misheff, a curator of “Moving the Still,” an exhibition of GIFs at Art Basel Miami Beach, explains the relevance of the GIF:

“You know, this is like such an era of ‘Wow me in the least amount of time that you possibly can ’cause I don’t have time to like invest in your stuff.’ It's like the ‘prove it to me’ generation. If you haven't roped somebody in within two seconds, then you lost, you know?”
No, I don’t know. It saddens me to hear a curator speak as if such an attention span should be a measure of artistic programming. I think for contrast of an observation from the philosopher Richard Wollheim:
I evolved a way of looking at paintings which was massively time-consuming and deeply rewarding. For I came to recognize that it often took the first hour or so in front of a painting for stray associations or motivated misperceptions to settle down, and it was only then, with the same amount of time or more spent looking at it, that the picture could be relied upon to disclose itself as it was.

I noticed that I became an object of suspicion to passers-by, and so did the picture that I was looking at.

From Painting as an Art: The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts (1987), a series talks given at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in 1984.
Wollheim’s way of looking at art requires a worthy object, one that does not “disclose itself” in seconds and that rewards looking again and again.

[I quoted Wollheim’s words in a 2010 post. I like GIFs too. But not as the measure of my attention span.]

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