Friday, February 26, 2010

Is This Art? -- The Backstory

You may have heard through the grapevine of the interwebs yesterday that we released an iPhone application called "Is This Art?". Within minutes of going public on Twitter, and with the help of some awesome people like MoMA, the Walker Art Center, the Warhol, David Carr and Paddy Johnson among a tidal wave of others, it was easy to tell that people were excited about it. For the general scoop, check out this piece by WNYC Culture or this post by our collaborator on this project, C-Monster.

But what I'd like to do here, is discuss in deeper detail the why behind this project. As a museum of contemporary installation art with an artist residency program that exhibits mostly new site-specific works, the Mattress Factory has earned a reputation for pushing artistic boundaries by allowing the artists we work with to explore complete artistic freedom during their time here at the museum. Our goal as an organization is to make the artists' vision a reality. Period.

And with that comes artwork that provokes thought and poses questions. Damien Hirst grew flies in our gallery for several months. Yumi Kori flooded our basement with water. Sarah Oppenheimer cut a large hole through our 4th floor gallery floor. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone say, "This is art? My kid could do that," I'd be a rich guy. But if I also had a nickel for every time someone has said that our James Turrell pieces have influenced the way they perceive the world or how Greer Lankton's It's all about ME, Not You has brought them to tears, I'd also have some pretty heavy pockets. And back in November an exchange on Twitter with Nina Simon got us thinking about how we, as a small art space in Pittsburgh, could start a wider dialog about the concept of art itself.

So shortly after Nina's tweet, I started chatting with Carolina Miranda (a.k.a. C-Monster) about the idea of an "Is This Art?" iPhone app. We knew if this project was going to be effective it would have to be funny, and Carolina is one of the wittiest, most on-point art & culture bloggers out there. When she agreed to write the art crit for the app, we knew we were onto something. All that was left was to develop the app, but again, as a small art space in Pittsburgh, we have no software developers on staff.

Enter Deeplocal. I can't say enough about these guys and gals. We've worked with them in the past on some things and our organizations have a similar worldview about art & technology. I truly believe Deeplocal is a special kind of company. They just make things happen. From my initial text message to David Evans pitching the project they were 100% up for it. The rest is history. We hope you enjoy the app and the website, but more than that, we hope this project gets people talking about art -- what art is, what art can be, how art influences people and why art is important. As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to hit up the comments below or track me down on Twitter.

Read All Posts by Jeffrey


Emily Craig said...

really well written Jeff

Lauren said...

Jeff Inscho should just change his title to professional really cool person.

Richard McCoy said...

Congrats on a fun app. I've been using it and love it!