Laurence Gartel is a Digital Media Artist from New York. Photography © Sunman 2019
1.In your opinion, what is the role of a museum?
We are living in an ever changing world. As the “Father of Digital Art” for over 45-years, we have made rapid advancements in technology that has altered the cultural landscape. Technology has added a more in depth understanding to the presentation of information. People can learn more about what they are looking at. No longer are museums limited by wall space.
Monitors and interactive kiosks can help provide a richer learning experience. Naturally with the internet (which wasn’t accessible 50 years ago) a person can now visit any museum they wish virtually. For instance if a person could go online and rotate an ancient sarcophagus, pyramid, or jewelry they could potentially have a greater understanding of a past civilization. So the role of the museum is to present the best of their collection.
2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?
Of course I am bias because I have enjoyed museums that take risks and showcase forward thinking innovation. They are not afraid to project the future as well as present the past. My innovative Digital Art has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, Princeton Art Museum, Long Beach Museum of Art, Norton Museum of Art, as well as the collections Victoria and Albert (V&A) London, Smithsonian Institute Museum of American History and Lucca Museum, Italy just to name a few.
3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why.
I think in today’s world (2020) it is important for people to engage. This means they can interact with the content creator. In this case myself, as an Artist just as we are doing now in real time. This was not the case in the past. Imagine if a person were to interact with Picasso? Today the chance of “talking” with Elon Musk or Richard Branson are possible. I myself would have loved to have engaged with Francis Bacon, Magritte and Willem Dekooning.
Having the illustrious career I have I grew up during the Punk Rock Era and knew Basquiat, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, as well as the Ramones, Debbie Harry, Sid Vicious, Robert Rauschenberg, Versace, and more recent Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Roger Daltrey to name just a few. The circles of Pop culture enable personal interaction not just electronic media. It is still good to get “fresh air”.
4.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?
Yes. People should understand that taking a booth at an Art Fair (which seems to be the current tend) does not constitute longevity or a career. Museums have the responsibility of showcasing Artists with great abilities (beyond the average).
A “one hit wonder” which is often presented does not engage the public audience. The public is not nieve as often thought. They demand a captivating exhibition of true talent which is omnipresent to our society.
Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist
Laurence Gartel (New York, 1956) is the pioneer of Digital Art and studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York with Keith Haring and began his professional career at the Buffalo Media Study with Nam June Paik. Among his collaborations, he has worked with musicians Sid Vicius (Sex Pistols), Ace Frehley (Kiss) and Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls). In addition, he had the opportunity to teach Andy Warhol how to use the Amiga computer and was the official artist of the 57th edition of the Grammy Awards. He made some works for Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.