Geert | Interview with Geert Lovink on Social Media & the Arts
Max Ryan: How do you think museums and institutions borrow from the stack or from the defunct Web 2.0? Is this beneficial to their critical positions?
Geert Lovink: Most museums have now woken up and their marketing departments have started to implement a ‘social media marketing strategy’. This is in line with the neighboring industrial sectors that are into Greek Yoghurt and Free Range Pork Products. Of course, we should not see the arts sector as an exception! In fact, they have been relatively slow in the implementation of ‘social media’ in their organisational structure. We do not need to spend much time on that analysis. For decades museum directors and their staff looked down on this silly, hyped-up IT phenomenon called the internet. It was primitive and lacked aesthetic, it was slow and glitchy. This attitude turned out not to be a generational problem. The elitist approach has been passed on from one group of curators and managers to the next, and still travels comfortably across the globe. Years ago I thought this all would change over time but it doesn’t. In the end, why should our cultural elites be bothered with international business machines and the banalities of the market? Why bother with technologies invented for engineers?
The key here is the term you’re referring to, ‘critical positions’. That’s not possible in the case of the current curators and art critics because they have no clue. In terms of the internet they have disqualified themselves. One needs to engage with the art form and content in order to formulate a critical position. If you don’t bother, you disqualify yourself when it comes to critique. There is no theater criticism without a thorough knowledge of theater as a form, its genres and classics—and without a basic engagement and passion for the rich art form. The same counts for books and films. Can you imagine a literature critic who doesn’t like reading? The film critic that never saw a film? In the internet context that’s all normal.