Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Conceptual Artist Deconstructs Hummer, Video Goes Viral: Art World Take Note!

The buzz about Brooklyn-based Jeremy Dean's art project "Back to the Futurama" has now gone viral, with coverage in a wide range of online media. As regular readers will recall, Jeremy is converting a GMC Hummer H2 into a horse-drawn carriage to create a symbol of America's perilously unsustainable lifestyle.

Jeremy has bet the farm on this project, so to speak, and exposure of the project will be vital to its chances of success. A big boost came two weeks ago when influential car expert and automotive journalist John Voelcker wrote about Jeremy's project under a headline that is itself an alliterative classic: "Hummer-Hating Artist Hacks H2 Into Horse Cart, Cites Hoover." This article has already racked up 16,000 views and 285 diggs.

The story spread like exhaust fumes through the automotive blogosphere and there are now over 100,000 Google hits for Hummer Hating Artist Jeremy Dean. The video that Jeremy made of the first cut into the Hummer has been viewed over 16,000 times on YouTube (http://tr.im/humvid) and more in Vimeo ( http://vimeo.com/8962281).

Not to be outdone, the equine community has picked up the story, appearing here in Horse Journal. Maybe some cart horse experts can help Jeremy match power source to completed carriage. Of course, this story was destined for mainstream press coverage from the start. We now see the project making its way into the Huffington Post and it may be on Current TV soon (it's on their web site's Upcoming section).

When us social media mavens talk about something "going viral" there really has to be a global element. The story has to be covered far and wide. Well here it is on a forum in Russia. And getting from the East Coast to New Zealand probably counts. The story was covered there in the equine press.

What is really interesting, from an art perspective, is the lack of coverage [so far] in the art press. When assessing the work of Jeremy Dean, the art world would be wise to take a tip from the film world. Conventional wisdom said Jeremy could not, as a first time film maker, make a documentary about race, not one that could be nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Dare Not Walk Alone did not win that award, but it did get a theatrical release, positive reviews in national press, a spot in Walmart's catalog and, on Tuesday night, there was an Oscar-winning actor in the front row for the screening at the Skirball Community Center in L.A. Immediately after the screening the actor walked up to Jeremy, shook his hand, and said: "Great Film!"

Footnote: Jeremy's art has been mentioned on the influential art blog EAGEAGEAG but I confess it was me that did the mentioning. (Who am I to talk about art? Well not that it really matters, but I do have a minor in Fine Art from the University of Leeds. I started a Master's degree thesis on Hegel's Aethestics at McMaster University and a doctoral thesis on William Blake's Notes on Laoco├Ân. However, don't take my word for any of this "what is art?" stuff, check out the New York gallery show in March and decide for yourself.)

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