Art galleries and museums ought to get mad because the Internet isn't working out so well for them. The Net sucks the life out of art; even high-resolution images look like something you'd see if you were hanging your head out of the window of a speeding car with your eyes watering from the wind. Get the picture? Even if you cruised past a billboard-sized Monet, you wouldn't get much out of it. The best use of art on the Net to date must be the wildly hilarious www.badart.com, where you can start your day with Steve Murmer's "Tulip Butts 1997," wherein the artist used his hiney as a stamp pad, smearing paint on his cheeks and in that place where the sun really doesn't shine and sitting on the canvas.
The ArtCentre of Plano didn't get mad at the Net; it got even. Local photographer and Tarrant County College art teacher Patricia Richards and Los Angeles-based photog Frank Long got together and pitched a truly splendid idea for making the Internet work in the art world. And Plano bought it. The ArtCentre unveiled Richards and Long's two-year exhibition-via-cyberspace project last week, and it's suffering from a serious lack of attention and apathy on the part of Dallasites who dread the trek up to the nosebleed section. Get going, y'all. Speed up Central, hang your head out the window until the wind brings tears to your eyes. Just get there and see what there is to see.
Image 2000 is one of those ambitious projects that sounds too good ever to work out right and couldn't have been done without the Net. Richards decided to reach out to fellow photographers around the world to try to re-create her dazzling experiences traveling around France and Hungary. "When I came back, I couldn't stop thinking about some of this work," Richards says. Rather than get bogged down in logistics, international politics, or the cynical hierarchy of gallery connections, Richards and Long got on the Net, contacting photographers, user groups, and photographic societies. Word of their proposed show spread quickly, and the result is an inconceivably beautiful, bleeding-edged, riotous grouping of work by 78 artists representing 15 countries. Both curators discovered what you might expect--similarities between people and nations, cultural differences, blah, blah. But Image 2000 became a consummate worldview and an unparalleled venue for the full spectrum of photographic practices.
Advancing photographic technology and digital imaging are represented in images that are worlds away from what we normally see in the States; plus, the pair uncovered Lomographs, the product of work with the Russian-made Lomo Camera, through an unexpected connection with a Lomographic society. "We got an e-mail from Christopher Evans in Canada that talked about the product of these small, hand-held, plastic, inexpensive Russian cameras with incredible lenses," Richards says. "He'd taken 90 rolls of film in one trip to Europe. The whole premise is you must always carry the camera and let it record everything." Lomographers Michael Nickel of Germany; Oleg Kouviev of St. Petersburg, Russia; and Robin Sprong of South Africa also have works in the show. Kouviev's are colorful and atmospheric, and Richards says the Lomo suits his eye well. "These guys pass it and snap it," she says. "It's real Andy Warhol-ish, doesn't require particular framing, and the viewer gets a real sense of the freedom."