After Art (POINT: Essays on Architecture)
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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.
nearly life-size chrome-covered fragment of modernist architect Rudolf Schindler’s canonical 1922 Los Angeles house; allowing the galleries to remain open for twenty-four hours on Thursdays; and periodically scheduling “entertainments” like film screenings, DJs, and a big summer barbecue, as well as offering “therapeutic” Thai massage.46 In different ways, these activities shifted the rights of action away from the museum as sole proprietor of its property and toward its users as shareholders:
doghouse from the ancien régime (figure 25). What kind of revolution is this? What kind of democracy? 25. Marie Antoinette’s dog house, included in the exhibition “In the Presence of Kings,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 18–June 11, 1967. Jean-Baptiste Claude Sené (1747–1803). Silk and velvet, gilded beechwood and pine, bearing the stamp of the Garde-Meuble de la Reine Marie Antoinette, c. 1775–80. 30 3/4 × 21 1/2 × 21 1/2 in. (78.1 × 54.6 × 54.6 cm), height of opening: 11 3/4
manifests itself as a subset of the art world, as opposed to the Guggenheim Bilbao’s millions of visitors, which generate the power to produce an international image of cultural and economic regeneration as well as millions of euros in income for a regional, postindustrial city. In approaching the greatest scale of connection—between state and globe—the issue of scalability can no longer be ignored. “Hits” and “cookies” are the keys to searchability online. The greater the scale of a network (in
entrepreneurs who shape opinion in the realms of economics, government, the social sciences, and science. Academic economists, for instance, may exert broad influence as policy makers, including, notoriously, Jeffrey Sachs, who, as a professor at Harvard during the 1990s, advocated highly controversial “shock treatments” that rapidly liberalized markets in the controlled economies of formerly communist nations like Poland and Russia.75 And the revolving door between politics and academe is well
invisible as individuals to most visitors to the exhibition. In Fairytale, Ai did not critique the power of images—he exploited the power of art to transport people and things both spatially and imaginatively. This is our political horizon, after art (figure 30). Not every artist has the opportunity and capacity to speculate on art’s power exactly as Ai has done, but all can—and I think should—do so in some way. I have stressed the importance of image populations because I believe image