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New Art in Austin “Interactive” website

New Art In Austin

Last week, AMOA quietly and (therefore) without much fanfare, unveiled
a companion website* for their New Art in Austin 2008 show, with artist
interviews, examples of previous work and other information. Within a
few hours the news was all over the blogs. Calamity Jane-ish, ezimmerman and The Young
others I’m sure) were totally mortified by their interviews. And while
the editing process always yields a fragmented presentation of an
individual, I thought almost everyone came off looking great. In
general, I find it really useful to hear what the artist has to say for
(him/her)self. It often gives the work a whole new level of meaning
that isn’t immediately evident in their work. I also really appreciate
that they were filmed in their studios, because I get a real kick from
seeing the spaces where people work.

It’s a fantastic project and I’m really happy AMOA
took the time and money to put it together. It is a really important
resource for audiences to be able to have a way into the work. It
personalizes it and mitigates the crippling terror at being exposed as
ignorant that a lot of people feel when confronted by contemporary art
(if you are reading this, you obviously are not part of that set). You
might remember thatArthouse did something similar for their Texas Prize show. I hope this becomes a huge trend in Austin cultural institutions.

But as with anything, there were some big misses in the AMOA project as (in-)kindly designed by The Decoder Ring Design Concern. The late 90s / early 00s rave flyer aesthetic AMOA
so atavistically chose to brand this edition of New Art in Austin (is
anybody else really creeped out by the fingerprints? Aren’t we really
concerned with privacy these days
?) was complemented by the clunky
Flash environment, where a fifth of the time spent browsing is spent
loading (even loading images takes forever). I felt like I was back in
the old days of Netscape. After loading a page, we are confronted with
another nuisance: the omnipresent marimba and synth flourishes that
intrude whenever you move your mouse and are annoying as hell and
impossible to get rid of. And probably the most egregious strike I find
with the website is that in making something like this completely
Flash-based, you remove the ability to link to individual artists,
videos or texts. This makes the website quite insular, a pretty
nearsighted thing to aspire to when the goal is to spread information
as widely as possible.

New Art In Austin

*Despite its claims of
interactivity, the only real interaction were the annoying marimba
sounds whenever my cursor would roll over icons. I would hardly
consider links "interactive features."

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3 Responses

  1. salvo cheque

    It makes perfect sense that museums will prefer to use Flash for their “interactive” projects when you start to think about their photography policies in the galleries.

    Messages received: “Don’t steal these artists images” or “We don’t have (or can afford) the expertise to launch websites conforming to the latest web standards”

  2. Ivan L

    I’m really glad you brought this up. And I completely agree and don’t understand why in this show, the same luddite rules apply in regards to photography. I can understand for some of their shows, when foundations and private collections are involved. But in this one? I doubt any of the 20 care and AMOA probably doesn’t have any rights to any of the work, so what’s the justification?

    And yes, it makes sense based on their stance on access to information that they would make a website in Flash. However, it’s a completely lost battle to try to stop images from spreading. It’s pretty easy to do a screen-capture like I did to get these images. I like the comparison to the internet as a pool and information as food coloring. once it’s in the water, it’s impossible to get out. Our great-grandchildren will see these comments one day and sigh AMOA bans 3D capture in its new Second Life site.

  3. kangaroo

    This website’s phone dial format with the xylophone sound effects is for museums and universities, mostly in Texas and California. The project is called Pachyderm and you can read about it at:


    They are coming out this month with new templates that are more user friendly, but it’s a great way for some organizations to get first-time websites. UNT-Denton’s art department uses Pachyderm and has modified it and it works better. UT’s Blanton, Project Row House, the McNay and other’s also use it. Their website lists all the schools and museums.

    It’s easy to set up without having any website building experience, so it’s very simple. But it does have opportunities for video, sound bites, links, and the basics. Also, images are stored by Pachyderm and some can be shared by other organizations.

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