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Lessons Learnt from Kay Vasey and Bala Starr

Lessons Learnt from Kay Vasey and Bala Starr
October 5, 2018 Art World Forum
In Articles

Bala Starr, Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Lasalle College of the Arts:

1. Two fundamental ways in which our sector has changed in the 25 years that I have been a part of it is that artists never discussed the market. They very rarely were in a conversation about the sale of an artwork. You didn’t know who collectors were. They were not players in the same way. They were private people that undertook transactions in their homes behind closed doors and the world didn’t come together.

2. Museums were arguably elitist spaces for a very verified audience, or specialists who prioritised scholarship. Today, we have invested in museum spaces because they continue to valorise and pursue scholarship and research, but also seek the spectacular. They seek the participatory role of an audience not just as passive viewers but as active players in the programming of the institution.

3. Talking about blurring lines, and the emergence of public-private partnerships, there seems to be more global collaborations, blurring hierarchies in the gallery space. Galleries were once an almost church-like environment, pristine, showing precious rarefied unreproducible works of art. Now, the experience people are demanding has changed.

4. Behavioural trends and changes, how do we stay in touch? It’s not enough to have everything at our fingertips and online. How do you compete with change for your own business?

5. In a way, we presume there is no private space anymore. One of the very attractive attributes of pursuing visual art is that not everybody grasps it immediately, or understands it ever. But if just 10 people can understand the value of a work of art on Instagram then that is worth having in the world.

These are all challenges also faced by artists.

“You can’t deny that technology is here, and it’s here to stay. Every company of the future is going to be a tech company whether you like it or not.”

Kay Vasey, Chief Connecting Officer, MeshMinds:

1. I noticed that in the West technology companies were investing in creativity and artists. Notably looking at Adobe and Autodesk, Facebook and Google – they all have immersive programmes. There are internal facing, much like Facebook who invites an artist into the workplace for a period of time, where employees can see the artist’s creative practice but it isn’t accessible to the public.

Autodesk on the other hand is external facing. Every quarter they select artists and give them access to industrial printers and equipment with the condition that they document all instructions step by step.

2. You can’t deny that technology is here, and it’s here to stay. Creativity I believe is the last thing that we’re going to hold on to. Yes, AI creates art, but I don’t think that’s going to win the market over. We still have to nurture the traditional skills, build platforms but also think outside the box.

3. I am constantly this sponge of knowledge. Recently, Jeff Koons partnered with Snapchap to showcase a Balloon Dog on your screen in New York’s Central Park. The interesting thing about this was that the next day, a radical artist graffiti-ed over the balloon dog so when you visited the rival artist’s application you wouldn’t see the original Jeff Koons version but the vandalised one. It just goes to show that even though most people can’t differentiate between VR and AR, we are already experiencing vandalism in the virtual world. It is a highly unregulated industry, and governments haven’t even started addressing it.

4. We are going through the 4th industrial revolution. Every company of the future is going to be a tech company whether you like it or not. Even the UN is heavily invested in VR to redefine storytelling.