Miami art week part 2: Of the three fairs I was able to attend (ABMB, UNTITLED, NADA), very little screen-based work was on display (haha). I have no data to substantiate this, but I believe that presentations of media art at Miami peaked several years ago and have declined since. Even at the peak, much on view was video or generative digital work added to an otherwise conservative booth to signal “contemporary!” to anyone motoring by. A few galleries besides yours truly (Aspect/Ratio, Cherry & Martin in 2014 and 2016 come to mind) reliably present challenging work in a way that doesn’t feel narrow or genre-ish. But on balance, given my predilections, I would have enjoyed seeing more moving image work and more thoughtful engagement of tech in art this year.
One gallery I cannot fault for its dedication to presenting new media is Pace, though the dedication is mostly to high production value spectacle (yup, I’m talking about you teamLAB). I’m grateful to Pace (and yes, BMW) for one of my best events of the week: Studio Drift’s hundreds of mini-drones mimicking flocking behavior over the beach on Wednesday night, titled FRANCHISE FREEDOM.
I can vaguely imagine the technical mastery required to pull this off, but what made the event for me was its moment of imperfection. About a quarter of the way into the flock’s ascent, one drone suffered some minor malfunction and separated from the rest, returning to the landing pad. The drone’s solitary trip was so quiet and stately that hardly anyone noticed. Standing in the press of hundreds, I identified with the little drone, a moment of insecurity and sense of alone-in-the-crowd that I imagine everyone feels at some point during Basel week. As is so often the case in contemporary art, it was the gentle mistake and moment of serendipity that made the experience for me.