I love this little device:
It’s a wall-mounted sensor that measures time spent in front of a particular artwork versus the total time of the exhibit. The more time people spend in front of the piece, the more compelling it must be. It makes a lot of sense, right? Everything else today is quantified and commodified. The sweater table at the Gap is placed where it is because of years of marketing research and science about crowd flow. Why not art? Why can’t we determine empirically that a piece of art is, officially, a piece of crap?
But it’s more than that. Like all of the other good things in life, the value of art lies beyond mere utilitarian concerns. This is both its greatest strength and its greatest liability. People are often reluctant to make value judgments about art. You’ll privately whisper “this painting sucks” to your friend as you breeze through a gallery reception, but among the cultured and educated in society there is this kind of relationship going on:
It’s why I fell out of love with the fine arts scene in the first place. Mark Mothersbaugh once told me (in an interview for which I lost the audio file years ago, so if this is somehow incorrect, please let me know) that before DEVO was really DEVO, the boys would visit art galleries and stick their handmade potato decals onto “bad” art, therefore “fixing” it. This is a great idea that needs to be revisited. We needn’t bother the retirees who are exploring how to paint a seascape for the first time, but for the class of artist – Murakami, Koons, Fairey – whose studios are basically factories and whose art is essentially a product, can’t we institute the Art-O-Meter? Can somebody set up a Yelp or Rotten Tomatoes or Fail blog for art? (We’ve already got one for New Yorker cartoonists.)
Until then, we can at least support establishments that are honest about their masterworks, like the Ace Hotel here in New York City: