Looking back at the past thirty years, I see the pattern of my initial reluctance to embrace the technology of the modern world. First, I had to learn to drive a car, though some of my friends tell me that I still drive like a Russian peasant. Then, there was an especially embarrassing moment when I heard for the first time the word ‘fax' and mistook it for, hmmm...an unprintable profanity, and that's how l learned about the existence of fax machines. When I started to do my Art Talk, I would write and edit the text on an old-fashioned typewriter, until an assistant of mine eventually persuaded me to start working on a computer, so I got a used one, courtesy of her husband.
Now, years later, I am spending most of my working hours staring at a screen, reading and sending an endless stream of emails. Every time my program is broadcast, I receive responses from people who hear it on the air as well as from those who get the email version – text plus images and links – that goes to over 5,000 people on the Art Talk mailing list. Several weeks ago, a new feature was added to the Art Talk page on the KCRW website, where listeners can now post their comments. Slowly, very slowly, I've come to the understanding that I must have a website of my own, and as luck would have it, one of the participants in my Art Collecting class, Good Samaritan that he is, took it upon himself to build one for me.
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to make sense of all the fuss over yet another mysterious way of communicating these days – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, I'm asking you to help me decide: Is it worth doing? And if so, which one do you think I should choose, or should I embrace them all? It would be great if you would post your comments online.
With all the wonderful advantages that technology provides, there is still no substitute for face-to-face interaction in real space, in real time. Tomorrow, Wednesday April 29, at 7pm, I will be moderating a panel discussion at the Getty Center about ‘Ethical Dilemmas in the Conservation of Modern and Contemporary Art.' Ironically, many works made from new and untested materials create more problems for conservators than traditional artworks made hundreds of years ago. Many contemporary works of art were not intended to last, however, as they enter museum collections, we are forced to confront this paradox: how to preserve a work of art which is not supposed to last? In my opinion, it was smart to throw out Damien Hirst's deteriorating shark and replace it with a new one, but what would you do if the famous (or if you prefer, infamous) work of Italian artist Piero Manzoni, his 1961 Merda d'artista – small cans of his feces – started to leak? Do you replace it, and if so, with what?
All that and more will be discussed tomorrow night by a panel of experts, including conservators, collection managers and curators. I invite you to attend this free event, but you will need to call (310) 440–7300 or make a reservation online. And if you tell them that you are an Art Talk/KCRW listener, you will be given not only preferential seating, but a souvenir as well. How about that? I also suggested a bottle of Russian vodka for each of you but, alas, was told that it's illegal...
Ethical Dilemmas in the Conservation of Modern and Contemporary Art
Wednesday April 29, 7pm
Harold M. Williams Auditorium, Getty Center
Banner image: The Getty Center, Los Angeles, California