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Art Critic Paddy Johnson Talks About GIFs and Web Art IRL

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You're an out-of-work 20-something with a graduate degree in fine arts, no career prospects, and a need to vent: What do you do? For Paddy Johnson, the solution was simple: Start a blog.

In 2005, Johnson launched the website ArtFagCity as a way to mostly vent about her subpar employers. AFC eventually found its voice as a vehicle for criticism from an art aficionado's point of view. It soon became a go-to site for artists and critics, and Johnson became an established voice in the community.

Tonight she'll give a talk on the progression of online writing and criticism (with special emphasis on the importance of GIFs) over the past several years. New Times sat down with Johnson to get the skinny on the latest trends in the art scene.

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"There's still not enough democracy in online writing," Johnson declares. Back in 2005, blogging had yet to permeate the art scene, where it was still largely viewed as disreputable. Today, art blogs vastly outnumber established publications, but Johnson thinks there's still room to grow. "A lot of the work early bloggers have done has been transformed into other things -- books, magazines..."

The internet has changed not only the way writers discuss art but also the way artists create and share their work. LiveJournal, Facebook, and, more recently, Tumblr and Instagram have all served as platforms for artists to directly share works with curators, gallerists, and buyers.

"Artists move quickly from platform to platform. At one point, Google+ was big with artists because it could handle large file sizes. Tumblr still hasn't caught up in that way. Facebook is still a weirdly functioning dinosaur," Johnson says. "What's interesting is the rise in web shows in the past couple of years."

With so much information being shared on the web, the potential for artistic theft -- or more kindly put, "reappropriation" -- is very high, but Johnson seems relatively unconcerned with the potential perils. "It could be a problem, but it doesn't have to be. Context is really the key, and contemporary artists have to be really sensitive to it."

Johnson's talk will be the first of 2015 in the Visiting Writers Programs, hosted by Miami Rail and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

If you're interested in hearing more and seeing a couple of really cool GIFs, Johnson will speak IRL tonight at 7 at YoungArts in the Jewel Box building (2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Admission is free.

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