A few weeks ago I decided to enter the Saatchi Gallery Showdown competition one more time, after watching the disappointing results the first few times around. What was supposed to be “an important experiment in Social Curation” was a disheartening display of hard-nosed art campaigning, including blizzards of direct appeals for votes toward the end. Needless to say, the best (wo)man didn’t win. I ain’t saying it should have been me, but it certainly wasn’t the artist who stepped into the winner’s circle.
There followed a great deal of howling from the other artists and, to Saatchi’s great credit, they responded quickly and forcefully. In an email sent out on March 29 they admitted that the competition had become nothing more than a “popularity contest” and announced they had made major changes to the rules which they hoped would level the playing field. The new changes made it virtually impossible for individual artists to have any impact on the number of votes that flowed in their direction.
Sooo…. here we are on the final day of the first round of public voting and my digital painting, Origami (above), stands at number 23 out of 5,786 entries (voting ends at noon). In the next round, the top 300 entries will be voted on for a week by jurors selected by Saatchi, and then the remaining top 30 are voted on by the public for one more week. At the end of it all, one winner and one runner-up win a chance to display their art at the Saatchi Gallery in London and other possible venues in major art markets.
For me it’s not only an opportunity to have my work judged by the art public without being filtered through the rarefied and highly-politicized world of fine art, but a vindication of my belief that the computer is as powerful an art medium as any traditional tool, something the art world has been slow to recognize, especially in the paint department. However it all turns out, though, it’s been a blast to watch Origami climb the pop charts. Always wanted to be a rock star.
Update, May 3: Just received notice that I didn’t make the final cut; in fact, origami dropped to number 270 out of 300 on the first day of voting by the jurors and stayed there all week. Seems the average citizen/artist has a better sense of quality than this mysterious group of jurors…. but then, quality seems to be less and less of a factor in this world; or is it just me?