book idea (thought experiment)

Art on Facebook, 2007-2012, by Frankfurt Sorbonne

When established New York art critics such as a Jerry Saltz and Howard Halle opened Facebook accounts, what culture critic Frankfurt Sorbonne calls a "discursive shift" took place. Criticism up to that time had been print-based, edited, and advertiser-influenced. Suddenly a level of art writing opened up that more closely resembled "art talk" -- fleeting spoken conversations, larded with gossip and politics and treated as "back channel" even though they could be read and saved by privileged readers of these writers. Unlike phone conversations and face to face talks, text and screenshot records were being kept of these "convos."

Gradually after 2007 most of the art world, up to that point shy of cyberspace and blogging, moved onto Facebook and began "sharing." Art conversations proliferated, from critic-to-critic, critic-to-artist, critic-to-public and every imaginable combination of those linkages. Sorbonne contends that this shadow world of "chatter," given Facebook's size and influence, constitutes an alternative discourse as influential as the old media structures' but for one thing -- a lack of formalized, centralized, prioritized record-keeping.

This book, then, based on Facebook conversations, chats, pics, posts, and comment threads compiled and solicited by Sorbonne and his students, gives us the first glimpse of a "new, digitally-mediated art world." Examples are given where particular artists' works are vetted critically and economically, where a consensus on artists or movements develops over time, and where various opinion leaders fell in and out with each other via tools such as "unfriending." Many of the conversations occurred within Facebook's ever-shifting onion-skin layers of access, so there is a quality of frankness to this writing one does not find in say, print media monthlies.

[Publisher's note: this book has been held from publication pending legal action by various persons and entities.]