Monday, August 20, 2007

Interview with John Hanhardt

About two weeks ago I met with John G. Hanhardt in his office at the Sithsonian American Art Museum to talk about his career, what brought him to DC, and issues in new media. It was the longest interview I have conducted to date and it took hours to transcribe.

About half of it appeared on DCist today. The other half fell onto the cutting room floor.

So much gets said in the course of an interview that distilling it to the essence of the discussion and maintaining the integrity of what was meant is a challenge - a worthy problem to solve.

The imperfection of the questioner can be eliminated. I asked this lemon of a question about concerning energy conservation and the use of new media. Any person who has seen a Nam June Paik television piece knows it is on for many hours and can involve several hundred television monitors. How much energy does that consume? Perhaps no more than a Radio Shack.

In a very long and winding discourse, part of which sought to find the essence of the question, this nugget can be removed from the answer.
Artists are always concerned about concerving technology because they want to preserve their work. And artists are not generating enormous bodies of work [that consume a lot of energy] in any case. So, I find it a higly efficient use of technology as opposed to where it is all brought into an office and gotten rid of and dumped [a couple years later for newer models].
Additionally, there is an issue of grammar. The slip of the tongue, in the last several decades (at least since political correctness took over, but maybe even historically) is to dumb down the plurality of pronouns, such as they and them, into singular pronouns describing a viewer, or an artist, or a person. It happens during interviews heard on NPR, CNN, Fox, and so forth. When transcribing such an occurance into print it can evaporate. Grammar can take over.

I've been talking with a couple of other curators recently that I hope to publish in a couple of months or so. I still feel like I need more material. Part of the Hanhardt interview will fall in there (not published on DCist).

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