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Now that ArtPrize 2009 is nearly behind us it becomes time to start considering ArtPrize 2010. This year over 37,000 people registered to vote, which shows that there is an obvious desire to participate. The question becomes how can we make that participation grow and become more meaningful than a mere thumbs up or thumbs down? This year over 1200 artists entered, scattered over a 3 mile square, how do we encourage artists to participate beyond placement of their work and marketing efforts? Over 300,000 votes were cast, how do we encourage those votes to be cast with a mind for understanding and evaluation?
One of the greatest challenges of ArtPrize 2009 was in navigating the event. If the size of the pitch were reduced ease of access would increase. Reducing the borders of ArtPrize to one square mile at the core of the city, where the primary attendee traffic congregated this year, would encourage competition thereby improving the quality of entries. Condensing the site would also encourage artists to consider new ways to engage with the built and public environments of our downtown. The denser footprint would also allow spectators to more easily navigate the event, allowing them to see a greater range of work. In seeing a broader spectrum of art viewers would find it easier to compare and contrast work, asking questions of themselves of why something may appeal to them and something else not.
Another substantial challenge was in understanding what was being voted on? What question was the thumbs up or thumbs down voting answering? Was it merely liking something to not or was it judging something as art or not. The way in which the public vote is used could be tweaked in much more interesting ways. The public vote could become an evaluation process in which voters are asked to make assessments. Voters could be asked to categorize artwork, is it Fine Art? Craft? Or is it considered Sculpture? Public Art? Painting? Performance? Circus Sideshow? Etc. The vote could even be shifted to ART or NOT ART. Asking voters to make a determination about the work is very different, and more vital, than asking voters if they like it or not. Whether someone likes something or doesn’t like something does not reflect how or why or if they have engaged with something. Maybe the vote could be as simple as - How long did you look at it? Or Does this mean anything? The simple thumbs up or thumbs down voting provides no platform with which to engage with the work, it is akin to asking someone what is their favorite color.
Post Script: As a matter of disclosure I need to state that I am an artist and did participate in ArtPrize 2009. As an artist, trying to make things that add to our collective experience, I am interested in how people "read" artwork. Everything visual is information that we can process and come to conclusions about based upon content and context.
International Artist and Local Strategist based in Grand Rapids. Recipient of the Rapidian's illustrious Hunter S. Thompson Superlatives Award in 2010.
Reports on: art and stuff