Alright, so the title is a little dramatic...
There really isn't a dark side to SPOKEN. Yes, there will probably be some unexpected mischief and there could be some technical surprises, but if things continue as they have been, the next six months will be full of rewarding hard work.
Issue: we aint got no dedicated website for SPOKEN. Before SPOKEN even had a name, our goal was simply to have an exciting and eclectic collection of art on display in Eugene's funky virtual gallery. But, after research, thought and discussion, it felt like we could do more. We decided to ask writers to interact with the art, just to see what happen. This writer-artist interaction will require us to expand our e-catalogue into something more. And, it would be great for comments to be shown. A website dedicated to SPOKEN would be great. Yes, an ebook can be a form of presentation, but that "live" dimension is lost. I remember when Facebook began, when I always saw posts from people I barely knew. I enjoyed that a lot. I'd like SPOKEN to have that sort of constant freshness. Facebook I now find unattractive. So, I have to use this blog quite a bit....which brings me to another concern...
Me, me, me...Issue #2. This is a Stephen Black project. It ain't, really. The first idea was that Eugene and I both select ten artists. Then Eugene became intensely involved in his art and professional projects, and I ended up selecting nearly all of the artists. And, now most of the SPOKEN information is on my blog. And my dad is in the project and so is my brother. Many of my friends, as well... So, yes, I can understand why it seems that SPOKEN can be considered, in some ways, SB-centric. But ultimately SPOKEN is about working in 3D with Eugene, showcasing some interesting artists and writers and chaotically marching with joy through the minefields of art and social media, destination unknown.
Issue: Just grumbling here... Always a treat and an honor when internationally recognized artists and writers respond after having received just one email. Others, however, ignore the same email several times, yet find time to post lunch photos on FB. I love that.
On a much more serious note, it is hard for me to explain how powerful this project could be if all of the participants took social media and Google+ a bit more seriously. SPOKEN is not about getting a zillion visitors or selling art. It is about experimentation and creating NEW pathways of communication, new connections. By using Google+, for example, I have met dozens of people while working on SPOKEN. I am planning a blog post on this sort of thing soon. It's not very exciting to see some people working so hard and only using Facebook as away to communicate.
Here is why I use Google+.
Issue: Technology. There are always technical issues. The soundscape for example, will probably not be heard when you enter the gallery. It will probably be a download. The reason for this is that we are hoping that people come to the website and walk right in. (As opposed to the first exhibition in gallery.sg, where visitors had to download a 450 meg file.)
This lean-and-mean approach also prevents us from having pop up information next to the artworks. Not a problem, but we'll have to present the information in another way. Yes, it will be in the e-catalogue, but it would be nice to somehow have it more spontaneous. The e-catalogue, given away free, will hopefully not just showcase the author's work and the artists's images, but will allow for a more meaningful virtual gallery experience.
Issue: economics. SPOKEN has basically been my fulltime job for the past three months. I am lucky I am in Bali and in a situation where I can live very inexpensively. And, SPOKEN is most definitely worth the effort. But, once we start offering things for sale, there could be some eyebrows raised or worse. We made it clear to the artists that any sales questions go directly to them, and ask them to remember us if and when a sale is made. We are talking to online shops and hopefully these shops can benefit all of our artists. Perhaps I am overly sensitive, but I have been around the block a few times. I would smile quietly if someone said that SPOKEN is a "sellout", but I would be concerned if there was a mistaken perception that SPOKEN was somehow being financially exploitative. To be clear: no writer is being paid, no artists are being charged. If an artwork is sold, the artists decides if SPOKEN will be given an agent's fee as well as the amount of that agent's fee. At this point we have worked hard and long with no sponsorship nor contributions. (That is not a complaint!)
Skills sets and strategies have been acquired and established, however. Perhaps the next version of SPOKEN will have have more commercial aspects. Don't know. But for now, it aint about money...