Rhea Myers

The Proletarianization Of Art Criticism

Book and film reviews have been reduced to individual data points on aggregator web sites as print journalism collapses. It’s only a matter of time until such big data/collective intelligence approaches expand to cover art criticism.

The aggregation and statistical analysis of art reviews will complete the proletarianization of art criticism. Art critics will be alienated from the products of their labour, and their value will accrue to the ruling class of the walled gardens of the Internet under their identity and reputation. The institutions that legitimate and monetize art criticism will be outside of academia and inside the market.

Art critics can react to this in two ways.

The first is to try to restore their status by becoming part of that ruling class, going meta with their own aggregation and big data efforts. This is like humanities computing (or digital humanities as it’s been rebranded) in much the same way that Google is like grep.

The second is to attempt to resist proletarianization. Gonzo art criticism, free-and-open-source-criticism, engagement with Maker culture and the production of objects, any means of producing art criticism that is resistant to or that benefits from being the subject of monetization-through-aggregation.

In either case, this will be the end of the crisis of art criticism, as it will be the end of art criticism in its current autonomous form.