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Do Digital and Art Still Need to Get a Room?

Updated: Feb 2, 2019

Go flirting to serve the Lords of Social Media as a showgirl or wizard, or, looking for adventure, to wander from platform to platform of all Planet Visual.

Me proving I'm at Tate Modern.

JiaJia Fei titles herself, Digital Strategist for the Art World. She is the current Director of Digital at the Jewish Museum in New York City and the former Associate Director of Digital Marketing at the Guggenheim Museum. Last week she gave a lecture at the Talking Galleries Barcelona Symposium titled “Social Media: The Next 4 Billion.”

In this lecture, she covers in a fresh way the need for humans to accept that the art world of digital has mated with the art world of analog. Fei starts with defining Director of Digital as not being about Virtual Reality or Artificial Intelligence but rather being a Translator, Interpreter, Storyteller, and Problem Solver.

She then juxtaposes the language of art with the language of technology. Oeuvre, Metadata, avant-garde, SEO, vis-à-vis, RSS, -ism, DNS, post-, CTR, mise en scène, CPC. Will there ever been one language for both art and technology? Should there be?

Fei believes Technology is new and Museums are not. Innovation in Technology is the future and the Mission of Museums is about the past. She is onboard with the accessible ease of digital art viewing.

As a theatre artist, simulcasts of international productions are the only way I have real-time access to what is happening globally in my art form. Would I prefer to be there in person? YES! Isn’t that the point of theatre -- to be live?! If it’s great theatre, I will take what I can get and the price is right. Accessibility trumps purity. The experience of seeing a live performance on a screen is better than not seeing it at all. Will I ever see Ralph Fiennes on stage? Probably not. But I did just see him play the title role in Antony and Cleopatra live in my small town’s local movie house. The entire production was innovative and thrilling. I feel lucky to have seen it at all.

“For the first time in the history of art, a work of art is seen online before it is ever experienced in person.”

Ev Williams, CEO of Twitter is famous for his PT Barum approach to technology, “Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time … Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.”

Fei sees this happening in every aspect of our life -- shopping >> Amazon, driving >> Uber, friendship >> Skype, dating >> Tinder, books >> Kindle, movies >> Netflix, music >> Spotify and Looking at art >> ?? -- has this connection even been created? How about this title in The Telegraph? -- Paris Match: How Beyoncé and Jay-Z reinvented the Louvre.

Nanoinfluencers have arrived. People use digital to record their performative life for the potential millions who might be watching. Social Media has been an extrovert's game for a long time and is quickly becoming a chance for introverts to find personal expression.

I’m guilty of using Instagram to record my day to day existence. For me, it is part performative but mostly a quick way for me to remember what I actually did that day. I think with age, my attention span has drifted. Though on second thought, social media is the more likely culprit.

JiaJia Fei ends her lecture by stating the buckle up/ bumpy ride cliche, "The Only Constant: Change." And she's right.


Saunders, Tristram Fame (2019 January 4) The Telegraph

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