October 5, 2005
As mentioned previously, Duncan MacKenzie and Richard Holland of Chicago's own Bad at Sports recently had a chat with one of the show's producers, artist Chris Sperandio, recording the procedings for their podcast.
So let's all gather 'round and give it a listen, to see what we might glean...Too fine for prime-time?
In which we find that someone might actually get to watch this thing...
Perhaps my skepticism regarding the size of ARTSTAR's potential audience was unwarranted. As Sperandio points out (23:32), Gallery HD can now be seen on DISH Network, which (as Sperandio is wont to repeat) is piped into somewhere around 11 million homes. Hardly chump change to be sure.
Of course Gallery HD is still only available to DISH Network's HDTV subscribers, and only those who pony up for the supplemental VOOM package at that.
And, in any event, I can't exactly picture today's TV audience thirsting for a documentary series on contemporary art. As Sperandio himself offers,
to call it a reality show is complicated because reality shows actually have a lot of money spent on them and are interesting to watch, where our show is much more documentarian and therefore slightly more dull to the average viewer. (6:14)
Sperandio talks big game about distribution and the like, but is there really any chance this show will prove anything more than marginal itself?
So "reality show" is really just a marketing tool to get some network executive to buy the show, because that's what people want right now is reality television. But, actually, what we ended up producing is a fairly serious documentary about the New York art world. (9:04)
On the plus side, all this talk of documentary seriousness ought to ease the minds of those who initially found the notion of an art world reality show so viscerally offensive. (Ah, but about that...)
In which Sperandio lets us know how he really feels...
Asked about the negative reaction that met the show's initial announcement, he seems to take ubrage at all that blog flak:
I think the main objection is that a lot of people in New York spend their time sort of queuing [cuing?] up. Right? They spend a lot of time developing their special relationships with people so that they might have an opportunity to do something. And here this comes along and basically democratizes what was otherwise a sort of secret brotherhood. And so, yeah, there is a lot of— there was a lot of resentment. I mean, you can Google "Artstar" and "Deitch" [give it a try], and what you get basically are blog screeds against the idea of a reality show somehow sullying the art world. And, if anyone really knew anything about the art world, they would realize that it's far more sullied than television could ever be and that, uh... yeah, that essentially they're being mindless dicks about things. (25:52)
In all seriousness, I think he misses the point here. That is, I doubt most critics really feared that this show would corrupt a lily-white NYC art world, but rather that it might perfectly dramatize or exploit that world's worst face—and that it'd be the artists at the short end of the stick yet again.
In which we are offered a view on what might have been...
Jeffrey Deitch's original vision for a Deitch Projects television venture was for an art world version of Playboy After Dark featuring the gallerist himself in the role of Hef's swanker-than-thou, pajama-clad party host.
The original idea that they wanted to do was a kind of Hugh Hefner type show where Jeffrey is the Hugh Hefner type and it's a party that's going on and they just interview people. (10:24)
I've got no pithy comment in response to this; but, really, how awful would that have been? I guess we can thank our lucky STARS again that they went a little bit "higher concept."
In which we're given an express catechism in a fresh brand of lefty techno-utopian fetishism and iconophobia...
After Sperandio offers forth a rather nuanced take on object fetishism and the material conditions of informational exchange ("property equals theft, man"—17:01), Richard Holland presses him a bit further:
Holland: Would you be happier if the information could be just downloaded into our brains?
Sperandio: I think I'd be happier that way. Don't make me quote the Internationale. 'Cause I will—I'll break it out. (18:25)
The international ideal, via neural interface? Servile masses, arise—and claim thy super technonanopony.
Sperandio's vanguard distaste for material culture suitably established, his feelings toward vulgar comic book fanboys should come as no surprise:
The problem I have with comic book fandom is their obsession with beauty and seduction and the lack of attention to things like distribution systems. You know— I don't respect the average comic book fan because they're somebody who's completely suborned [?] themselves to seduction of the image—who don't recognize the fact that they're being manipulated by big companies. (33:08)
Uh, who wants to field this one? Kriston?
"Prattle of the Network's ARTSTAR"
Posted by Dan at 12:06 PM
Bad at Sports Podcast: Chris Sperandio and Richard Cheese
Bad at Sports Podcast: Chris Sperandio and Richard Cheese—MP3
Crooked Timber: Any sufficiently advanced punditry is indistinguishable from bollocks—Daniel Davies
DISH Network: About Us: Corporate Profile
DISH Network: Programming: HDTV: Channels—VOOM Pak
Forward Retreat: More ARTSTAR
Google Search: 'Artstar Deitch'
IMDb: Playboy After Dark
Iconoduel: Artists on the Teevee—It's only mostly dead
Insurgent.muse: Has the art world gone crazy?
MTAA-RR: More artstar.tv
Stunned.org: Art Star
Test: Grennan & Sperandio - looking for 'reality' in the world of art
VOOM: Gallery HD