Skip to content

Category: Rob Horning

What sense it makes

“Artists make the satisfying feeling of being an artist as much as they make discrete artworks. Typical art-world consumers, however, are not interested in the freedom art might signify. They want something to invest in and something that sets them apart. The trade in art objects is mainly about updating the prestige scoreboard (and property values) in the rarefied ‘art world’ of multimillionaire collectors, gallery owners, museum trustees, and artists becoming brands. The structure of the entire art milieu is meant to forestall the broader appreciation of art and protect its capability to signify status. It is meant to allow rich people to recognize the fruits of their wealth in their exclusive access to the world’s finest things. The glory of the view lies primarily in its being private-access. Ordinary people’s appreciation of art attaches to works like so many barnacles, ruining their meaning for collectors. As with any luxury brand, the wrong sort of audience for an artist can sully their market value completely. This is why so much of the discourse that surrounds contemporary art is so nauseating. It deliberately aims to destroy the confidence of nonelite audiences in their own judgment; it wants to make their potential pleasure in art depend on a recognition of their exclusion from the realm of art-making. We get the joy of knowing there’s some consumption experience beyond us that can remain forever aspirational, which gives us cause to cherish whatever brief peeks we get over the wall.” – Rob Horning, “Creative Tyranny”

Leave a Comment

Now, voyagers

“Because artists are celebrated by capital for their seeming independence from it, they are liable to become confused about the social role they play. They think being above wage labor gives them automatic solidarity with those who want to abolish it. They think they are fellow travelers when really they are running dogs.” – Rob Horning, “Creative Tyranny”

Leave a Comment

Cats in a burlap sack

“Artists must produce their reputation as a singular commodity on the market, which makes their chief obstacle other would-be artists rather than capitalism as a system, regardless of whatever critical content might inhere in their work. When artists patronize the working class with declarations of solidarity, their vows are motivated less by a desire for social change than by the imperative that they enhance the distinctive value of their personal brand.” – Rob Horning, “Creative Tyranny”

2 Comments

Attention surfeit disorder

“Living in an attention economy means dealing with not only a scarcity of time to consume information (and people as information) but also a scarcity of empathy. Attention deficits become double-sided; we don’t have enough to focus on what’s important, and we don’t receive enough to feel solid. Intimate communication becomes inefficient as its cheap, token abundance makes it less effective. All of it fails to convince; it all raises more questions of trust rather than answers.” – Rob Horning, “Living in Microfame”

2 Comments

Breaking through the matrix

“Social media can make the feeling of belonging seem like an alienated accomplishment measurable in discrete amounts of individualized attention. But belonging is also a matter of fleeting, spontaneous empathy, moments of presence in which we’re not just watching and tracking others but experiencing an underlying mutuality.” – Rob Horning, “Living in Microfame”

Leave a Comment

The maelstrom of the market

“We all document ourselves and are documented against our will, and these documents can always circulate uncontrollably, accumulating misinterpretations and subtexts, causing theoretically limitless amounts of collateral damage. Part of this damage takes the form of entrenching our friends in a marketing matrix.” – Rob Horning, “Living in Microfame”

Leave a Comment

Planet of incarcerated whores

“Social media, as well as the pervasiveness of cameras and other surveillance apparatuses, have the potential to persecute anyone as though they are an undeserving celebrity due for a takedown. In a world where motion-sensitive cameras lie in wait to transmit images of your walking down the street in real time to online observers for judgment, where facial- recognition technology can durably attach all the insults to your name, where privacy is increasingly interpreted as secrecy and the mere procedures of exposing anyone are seen as blows against power, we are all subject to unexpected and unwanted scrutiny. Yet at the same time, in a social environment that’s increasingly congested by transparency and competing and unceasing claims for recognition, we must clamor for the attention we do want and find ingenious (if not exploitive) ways to get it. Not only are we all under surveillance but we are compelled to then justify why we’re being watched. This stems from social media’s seemingly objective measures of individual reputation and influence (Klout is merely the most egregious of these), which we ‘deserve’ by being active online — turning our thoughts, opinions, friends, and relations into useful marketing data. Social media provide the infrastructure for the economic mobilization of the personality, in which our efforts to ‘be ourselves’ must confirm themselves by being demonstratively productive.” – Rob Horning, “Living in Microfame”

Leave a Comment