Print media and museums ossify in the face of new media

by Jason Gross

9 April 2006


Two New York Magazine articles caught my eye, both dealing with old format/media vs. new.
In Brainy Young Things, we learn about four hot new young editors (white guys too, natch) whose publications are, ahem, anti-blogs.  This means that they’re well thought out, well written and totally unlike what you see in those online upstarts.  Um, maybe my memory’s a bit fuzzy but hasn’t print media taken its lumps recently for their truthiness problems?  Better watch your backs, you effete mofos…

The other article, MOMA in Middle Age, wonders about why an NYC arts institution isn’t living up to its name- the Museum of Modern Art.  Like other museums, it’s become a collection of past glories and not modern-day, cutting edge art, leaving that to the Whitney, Guggenheim and smaller galleries.  While it’s true, MOMA is still a wonderful 20th century relic.  Nevertheless, the article does have a point- MOMA’s ability to shock, stir up controversy or chronicle the hear-and-now seems to be a thing of the past.

What got me thinking about this was a recent NYU exhibition called “Downtown,” chronicling the arts scene of the mid/late 70’s and its tie-in to the punk movement.  While it was interesting to see this little-known footnote which was part of an artist milieu at the time that punk grew up in, it also seemed kind of flat and un-alive.  Just as at the Whitney, people would inevitably group around the video exhibits and shuffle past the photos, magazines and posters.  The same thing afflicts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Experience Music Project.  Like MOMA, they don’t stir up or shock anyone- they’re meant to be antique collections.  It’s not just that it’s hard for old artifacts to compete with the Net, video games and such but also that they don’t engage or enrage enough.

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