Art is a business, and although I firmly believe in "art for art's sake", l recently began thinking about how some art projects are similar to IT start ups. One thing led to another and I soon found myself being interrogated by Jack Welch, the business leadership guru, about SPOKEN, my own art/creative writing/virtual gallery project...
(The name of Jack Welch is used respectfully and symbolically. Mr. Welch himself has not been involved with this in any way. To underscore this, NJW (Not Jack Welch) is used below.)
Glasses in hand, Stephen Black and Eugene Soh welcome visitors
NJW: Alright, what's SPOKEN'S "big aha" and how can our readers benefit from it?
SB: SPOKEN's "big aha" is recognizing the needs of the huge number of independent artists, musicians, writers and creatives of all kinds. All of these people need exposure, yet most cannot afford the time it takes to build an audience. Social media and the possibilities for direct engagement between creators and their audience are also part of SPOKEN's "big aha". Your readers will benefit from reading about how SPOKEN is developing new ways to reach audiences and then using what is applicable.
NJW You got the right people?
SB: Eugene Soh, is SPOKEN's co-producer and an artist. Not only did he build a great virtual gallery, he made an interactive game; a tribute to Ai Weiwei's vase smashing legacy. Eugene also put a huge balloon dog in the sky over the gallery as a tribute to Jeff Koons. You can jump on it.
Plus we have an eclectic mix of contributors like Stelarc, Xu Xi, Jamie Grefe, Yasumasa Morimura, Buke and Gase, Sjon, Kembra Pfahler, Xu Xi, Lagos 2060 and more.
I have some great programmers lined up for the next version.
NJW: What's your playing field look like?
SB: The playing field for showcasing art, music, writing and most creative endeavors now looks like this: educational institutions, cultural institutions websites and companies. There is a need for new platforms as the numbers of independents overwhelm the existing structures. Also, the idea of what art is and how it is being distributed is now being redefined because of the possibilities of digital.
SPOKEN is, perhaps the start of a new kind of art, or maybe an incubator for something that could be the next Behance or deviantart.
NJW: Threats? Problems?
SB: We are avante garde in the way we are creating and presenting art.We're new. We must explain and demonstrate what we are doing.The biggest threat to SPOKEN is inaction: we must create dynamic documentation: ebooks, artworks, music and video. We must be more than a great exhibition complemented with great writing: we must redefine what a gallery can be in the digital age. With SPOKEN, we gather experiences and data then we disrupt.
NJW: What's your winning move?
SB: Promoting all of the SPOKEN artists individually. If we listen to them carefully and respond well, SPOKEN will grow.