Almost half a year ago I caught wind of the New Museum launching an incubator, “New, Inc.” – which in business speak is a place where you coddle and launch profitable businesses – the hotter it is in the oven, the hotter it will be in the marketplace.
The New Museum has an awesome and radical history. Its founding director Marcia Tucker was expelled in a way from the traditional museum scene (the Whitney), and she pushed the boundaries, tore the tape and opened the New Museum in 1977. The mission of the New Museum was to present the work of living artists who did not yet have wide public exposure.
This rebel yell echos today in its forward and boundary pushing programming. It is not trying to build a collection, or peacock any trustees collections, it is simply showcasing what it believes to be the brightest and most promising moments in contemporary art.
It is no surprise that launching an incubator in an unused portion of their real estate would be in the cards. This is utterly unproven territory. Artists working with technology and technologists has no history of being profitable nor effective. So why do it? This year there are 40 full-time and 40 part-time members sharing office space, studio and workshop space.
If you remove the definition of art as “Art” with a capital a, you will see that creativity is simply problem solving – great artists are really good at this. How can you be good at problem solving? By being curious. It’s almost impossible to become a “good business person” if your curiosity pounds you into uncharted territory. Therein lies the beauty of the partnership of the creative, the business minded and the technically powerful. This is why people like Steve Jobs (creative, not necessarily a tech or business genius), must surround themselves with the grounding elements, the ones that see the trees so he can look at the forest. And yes if there were no trees, there would be no forest – you see the beauty in this equation?
So should the the New Museum launching “New, Inc.” feel like a wonky garage scenario? I’ve reviewed the tenants (or approved applicants), and have found the range to be predictable. Hopefully they are ALL working on something that has not been ready for publication, due to it’s secret and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious possibilities.
This art and technology mix is not new in general nor for the New Museum: they have hosted Seven on Seven conferences for several years, pairing artist and technologists in semi-Project Runway type scenarios. The results of the conferences have yielded compelling ideas, hence convincing the New Museum and its funders to launch this incubator. Some are beautiful gestures, some are completely silly. One of my favorites is the collaboration with artist Taryn Simon with Aaron Swartz. It is called Image Atlas, and it caches all of the image results from different countries and you can sort them my GDP or alphabetical. Truly special. I am currently doing a project where I am logging the google hits for certain terms (started the project in 2006). It’s not as sexy as images, but the idea of ascertaining the public through their private search habits is very compelling (which is why the market cap of google is over $400 billion).
I am hoping for success and wish the New Museum a brilliant lift off on it’s program!! And in honor of New York Fashion Week, I used one of their tenants in the lovely Bowery to build myself a collection online – it’s available, so if you are in need of a Tatlin dress, or a Richard Hamilton tote bag – they are available for purchase! Thanks PAOM for your services, and good luck in the incubator this year!!