The Net and Art.

I have no idea how to write this without sounding egotistical or self-congratulatory, so I apologize in advance. I’m not trying to gloat–I realize this is due as much to luck as skill–I’m just trying to get my head around this.

Had a piece up on the Daily Favorites of the DeviantArt thing. It’s more a reflection on the way the site is set up than on any great skill on my part–if six or seven nice people like a piece early in the day, it gets up on the list quite easily, and then it’s far more likely to be seen, and thus a lot more likely to add more votes, so that once it’s up there, it’s a lot more likely to stay there. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s a nifty, somewhat whimsical, somewhat creepy little piece, but really, I think it’s just the way the site works. I’ve seen far better pieces languish in obscurity.)

By a minor coincidence, I also had a different piece as a mod’s choice over at Elfwood. Which means that, based on page views alone, something like six thousand people looked at one of two paintings of mine by mid-afternoon today. Not due to any great reflection on my skill, mind you, but one person liked the garbage dragon, and maybe a dozen liked the little gnomies, and because of this, six thousand people saw ’em, which is an astonishing enough commentary on the power people can wield over the internet.

This staggers me. I mean, I can’t get my head around six thousand people. I can just barely get my head around two thousand, because that’s how many were in my high school gym during pep rallies, but six defeats me utterly. My physical social circle, including the people I just occasionally see as friends of friends, AND the girlfriends/wives of Shadowrun players, consists of maybe maybe a dozen people. Add–oh, maybe another forty or fifty on-line who’s names I recognize promptly, most of which are on this livejournal or associated forums (Fora?) plus a handful of others. I have absolutely no mental basis for six thousand people looking at my art in one day. It is a completely unreal number. It’s far easier for me to believe that one guy with a modem is re-loading pages every six seconds in order to appease a bizarre flickering eyeless gnome fetish than it is to believe that many humans are looking at my art. And that’s a pretty small number in the scheme of things on the ‘Net–it seems huge to me, but it’s a minor blip compared to the kind of staggering numbers generated by places like Portal of Evil and so forth, or the kind of viewership that the really amazing pros are lookin’ at every day, rather than on one particularly impressive one.

And this leads me, at last, to the realization that as an art distribution method, the Internet just kills anything else. As a veteran of my parent’s shows at various galleries, I know that even on opening night, we’re usually looking at a hundred or so people, for a really big opening. And it tapers off sharply after that. It has nothing to do with skill–their art blows mine out of the water like a depth charge to a saradine, but then again, they’ve been doin’ it for thirty years. It’s just…I don’t know what it is. Short of illustrators on bestseller covers, or in really wide-circulation magazines, how the hell did artists get widely seen before the internet? I’ve never gotten any luck off mailings–virtually all my work comes via just these internet coincidences. And, in fact, since the internet appears to have completely altered the way art functions, by delivering a pre-packaged audience who is desperately seeking visual stimulation, who will not even require free cheese in order to appear and look at the art–how is this altering how artists function? I know that I get far more instant feedback on art than could be expected from physical galleries, and I get it practically daily, in my own home. Does this make us more aware of our audiences, despite the fact will never see ’em physically? Are artists more social now, or less? And, perhaps most of interest–does this mean that the non-fine art elite, whom I must guess make up the vast majority of the art-viewing Net, are taking back art, or at least getting past the cliche that modern art is only for modern artists and art critics?

Has the net made people more interested in art?

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