More on the perceived unpopularity of the Whitney's "BitStreams" exhibit when it was in fact fairly popular with the public and press.
Partly it was the fallout from the dotcom bust.
I was saving clippings when I wrote my Art Papers article on the museum computer shows in '01.
Deborah Solomon glowingly profiled "BitStreams" co-curator Lawrence Rinder for the NY Times--"Tastemaker, New in Town, Dives into Cauldron"--while the show was up. "BitStreams" was actually three exhibits--the internet art part called "Data Dynamics," curated by Christiane Paul, and "BitStreams," curated by Rinder (visual art) and Debra Singer (sound art).
Jeremy Blake received accolades for his Whitney installations in articles such as "Bit by Bit, the Digital Age Comes Into Artistic Focus" by Jeffrey Kastner, also in the Times.
Tim Griffin wrote a Time Out think piece asking which museum would be "the first to mount the defining exhibition on digital art?" right after SFMOMA's "010101" opened and prior to the launch of "BitStreams."
After a fusillade of hype, it started to be clear that tech stocks were tanking and NY's bubble economy wasn't coming back.
Some of my clippings from the same period have captions such as "Joe Blow, 30, the former art director for pseudo.com, owns 290,000 stock options that are now worth nothing. He is unemployed."
Interest in, and hype for, digital art, nosedived around this time. I believe this is one reason the shows are remembered badly. Another is that the sudden precipitous drop in interest provided breathing space to actually evaluate the merits of the exhibits, and they came out the poorer for it.