Guggenheim + YouTube = Awesome Biennial

Video may have killed the radio star, but it has done wonders in shifting the paradigm of visual art.

Since the 1960s, video art has been challenging preconceived notions about how art was supposed to look. At the time, these video artists had to fight to be recognized as worthy enough to be hanging in the same space as Monet or Picasso. And nowadays, you cannot walk into a contemporary art museum without some type of video art installation. Barriers were successfully broken down. Hooray!

Let’s take a quick look at the opposite end of the art world spectrum. A magical little land on the internet where hours (and probably days) at a time can be spent: YouTube.

With the dawn of YouTube, absolutely anyone can have his or her two minutes of fame.  There is everything from a rapping weatherman to the music of Windows XP, Daft Hands and the post-it Mona Lisa… and seriously? Can you even imagine life before this guy? I know I can’t.

So we have the art world, which is harder to crack than a walnut frozen inside a glacier, and then YouTube, which could not be easier.

What happens when these two worlds join forces? YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video

The premise is to receive video art submissions from around the globe by people who may or may NOT consider themselves artists.

New. Exciting. Different. Weird. Animated. Confusing. Anything.

“We’re looking for things we haven’t seen before,” says Nancy Spector, deputy director and chief curator of the Guggenheim Foundation.

No pressure.

So what happens after videos are submitted? A panel will review all of the videos and narrow it down to 200. From those 200, 20 will be selected to show in the first Biennial of Creative Video at the Guggenheim Museums. Yes, museums. The show will be simultaneously running at the Guggenheim in New York City, Berlin, Bilbao, and Venice. All 200 finalists will have their videos shown on the YouTube Play Channel.

Partnering with the Guggenheim and YouTube, is Hewlett-Packard, who will be providing all the equipment at the museums to display the videos, as well as online tutorials about video basics such as editing and lighting.

So even if you know absolutely nothing about videos or video art, your work could be shown in one of the most renowned museums in the world. Interesting. And exciting. I think.

What are your thoughts? Will this produce great art worthy of showing in Guggenheim museums around the world? Is that even the point?

Now there is a question worth exploring… In this rapidly changing world where absolutely anyone with a camera, phone, or computer can create “art,” how do you define what is museum worthy anymore?

I think there are two schools of thought on the matter. On the one hand there are the purists who think the art world should remain an elusive and elite club that few artists ever manage to penetrate. Unfortunately, these limitations of access are crippling to the sustainability of our field. Which is what the focus should be, according to the second group. Yes, the art world must educate, question, and preserve beautiful and interesting things, but if you can’t get people to walk through the doors then what is the point? Keeping today’s audience engaged with art, regardless of the means, has become a focus for both visual and performing arts organizations. Technology is a great entry point, because everyone understands it and uses it on a daily basis. The same holds true for artists. Almost every artist I am friends with uses technology in some fashion to produce their work. They are creating amazing things, but the likelihood of top curators and critics ever hearing about them is slim to none. Which is why YouTube Play is such a great concept.

Obviously, there will be no way of creating installation style pieces similar to Bill Viola’s piece for the 2007 Venice Biennale, Ocean Without a Shore. But in this case, that is ok. Unknown artists get to show their work, interesting pieces will be created, and the museum doors will be as convenient as your computer screen.

The other day, we talked about crossing into different genres of art than you are used to… well here is your chance! Everyone is an artist.

Interested? Absolutely anyone in the world can apply by uploading your video (less than 10 minutes and created in the last 2 years) to the YouTube Play Channel. The deadline is July 31, 2010, so start creating!