Thursday, 9 July 2009

Art 2.0 part 1: "One&Other"

Over the past decade the Internet has shifted from owner-generated to user-generated content (Web 2.0 - blogs, wikis, video sharing, social networking, auctions, Squidoo lenses etc.) Some recent art events in London point to a similar trend - instead of creating their own content artists are creating spaces to facilitate creativity by hundreds of users.

Anthony Gormley's Art 2.0 installation, One&Other, has taken over the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square, where members of the public, chosen by lottery, are hoisted up to the plinth and make use of it for an hour. So far a popular use has been charity or environmental campaigning; however other plinth users have sung and played guitar, bassoon or other instruments, photographed people in the crowd, or written random slogans on a chalkboard. It's YouTube - on a stick.

This morning saw singer-songwriter voluntas on the plinth with a series of witty, sometimes bawdy and very original songs. voluntas is lift consultant and self-taught guitarist Michael Bottomley IRL; his wife and daughter were present to give moral support and record the event, and he drew a small but appreciative crowd.

As a work of art One&Other is engaging and entertaining. Anthony Gormley is an artist who usually puts himself into his artwork in a very genuine way - often literally as in the case of his many body-casting installations. Here participants are sharing in the same experience of self-projection. The Trafalgar Square plinth is a good public space for this kind of event even though there's a slight sense of publicity stunt; for this reason though it may not be the best gallery in which to hang a Gormley.

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