Review of Art Opening

Robert Jackson Harrington reviews Art Opening for TYAG


There are still two ways to experience it.
1. The Hard Road
2. The Easy Road


"Well shit, let me start by stating I’ve met Russell Etchen, had a great lunch/talk with him once, and even invited him to show in my alternative art space, the Museum of Pocket Art. So, I want that known, before I review his latest exhibition.

Now, Russell Etchen went and made his own art space for his own artwork. If you have access to this review, then you have access to his show, Art Opening. There is NO reason for you not to see it. I even gave you the link.

Anyway, the show is part “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, part “Oregon Trail/role player computer game“ mixed with a Tumblr, displaying a bunch of digital images meant to look like large paintings.

Etchen has created a platform and taken control of how his work gets “out there”. The feel of the experience (and really, that’s what this show boils down to) is that the artist is exerting control, or at least trying to. Yet, now, with everything accessible online, I wonder, how much aspects of intent still holds true, especially, how we initially consume images.

Interestingly, I’m reminded of this film C’était un rendez-vous that you can also watch on your computer right now. However, for director Claude Lelouch, it was never his intention for you to see it on a computer or iPhone or however the hell you see the above link. It was a film meant to be seen in a theater, enveloped in black, with larger than life imagery. The intended experience is overwhelming, drawing you in, getting lost in the moment.

Watching it now however, on my computer screen, I’m distracted by writing this review, and I’ve got 13 tabs open in my browser, and pings alerting me to new communications from friends and all that stuff adds to the experience, never meant to be part of the movie. 

The same holds true for Etchen’s Art Opening. All the same distractions, the design of Google Chrome, coupled with my personal settings, all add up to how I consume Etchen’s exhibition. He has no control over these things, How can he? 

Yet, I can’t help but think he’s savvy enough to know that those things are part of it. We each get our own unique experience of this work. Which, to pause and focus on that point, is amazing and odd and terrifying all at the same time. The shared experience of the internet has turned us into a hive, networked, connected and sharing the same viral videos. On the internet, we speak the same language, internetease, yet our experiences can’t be the same. As they say, we all die alone.

April 24, 2015-RJHarrington