July 2021 | By Don Gialanella
Starving for Attention
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This type of isolation has nothing to do with the pandemic. Artists are isolated from their audience.
Visual art has a broken feedback loop. Entertainers, singers, musicians, actors receive immediate reactions from their audience. They get to hear and see how their performance is resonating with the public.
Visual artists very seldom hear the reactions of the viewers of their work. Sure, people tell you your work is great at an opening, it’s mostly meretricious small-talk. But for the remainder of an artwork’s life on display in a home or institution, nary a word is heard by the creator. Sometimes I feel like I’m working in an alternate reality marooned on another planet.
I had the idea to put a remote camera in my sculptures, like a trail-cam, to record the unfiltered reactions of viewers. The comments would then be edited together into a mini-documentary. This is still on my “to do” list.
Artist’s are working in a critique vacuum. Critical feedback is virtually impossible to get once you leave the hallowed halls of academia.
I always wanted to hold an art salon in the tradition of Louise Bourgeois’ Sunday salons of yore. So, I organized a “salon” a few years ago at the Center for Architecture and Design in Tampa for the express purpose of encouraging artists to comment on one another’s work. It was a great success and it would have been fun to make it a regular event, but it never gathered the impetus to continue.
Getting meaningful feedback in general is difficult. Comments from friends on social media are generally positive and terse – great, amazing, you’re so talented! Other than that, what are people saying about your work? Is anyone even seeing it? Who is reading this, for example?
I’d like to conduct a little test about audience response. Please let me know you read this blog by sending “Read it” to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll report back about how many people responded.
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You can explore Don Gialanella’s work at donsculpture.com