Art selection in the 21st century

Sometime in the early 90’s, whilst employed in a College of Art, I was provided with a desk top computer. My first reaction was to quickly remove it and place it out of the way under the desk.

At that time I couldn’t see that I would have any use for it. This summer’s LG Open selection process has reminded me of the extraordinary extent to which the world, in only one generation, is now embedded in and dependent upon the digital.

Having been asked to be a selector for the Open, my initial thoughts were all about, “how is the selection actually done?” A vision of the actual artworks being manually paraded in front of a panel quickly faded. Obviously the reality was different. An LG group of selectors would, initially individually, view all artist’s submissions via an online portal. Those involved, artists and selectors alike, were required in different ways to employ digital skills to enable decisions to be made; the artists, in all cases, were expected to, at the very least, record and upload their works and the selectors to navigate an online website through which to view the works.

Then the artworks; not only moving image as in film and video, but digital installation, a variety of digital printing methods, digital photography, hybrids of analogue and digital, laser cut sculptures and sound design – all the above to be considered alongside artworks formed through more traditional means, however viewed in the digital arena.

As an added bonus the digital has made the London Group Open truly international with submissions coming from many parts of the globe.

All of the above is of course the modus operandi of any artist under 50 but to an artist who still resolutely keeps the computer under the desk I am also well aware of the value, on occasion, of placing it on top.

Bill Watson LG 2019
Curator of The London Group Open 2019, Part II

Bill Watson is exhibiting in Part II of The London Group Open 2019, 4 – 13 December, The Cello Factory