Where it has been imposed, the Covid-19 lockdown begins to seem endless, particularly because the number of victims continues to rise despite the precaution. In some states, sheer economic exhaustion has emboldened a few businesses to open. But, if the spike continues to rise, these same businesses may be obliged to shut down again. I know their worry about the present ambiguity. My YouTube book review program Just Read It canceled regular filming out of concern for the guests. At the moment, the show is existing on rerun fumes, but that can’t go on forever.
Nonetheless, bringing local writers together to discuss books from the New York Times bestseller list is a hazard. That’s why my colleagues and I are exploring Zoom as a new production tool. If we go in that direction, I’ll need to install a camera with sound on my computer. For other people, that might not be possible. Already 3 guests have bowed out of our experiment. I hate to lose them. On the other hand, Zoom does make it possible to invite guests from other states– a prospect worth considering.
Other visual art forms face challenges that will also require new solutions. Contemporary art, for example, is dependent on group events to survive. Unlike established artists who have a history of sales as a watermark to establish value, up-and-comers do not. They depend upon the collectors and aficionados who gather at gallery openings, museum shows, or splashy scenes like Art Basel to establish their reputations. Shut down these venues and a struggling artist had better hope mom and dad haven’t renovated the childhood bedroom and turned it into an entertainment center.
But, as I’ve suggested, when one door closes another may open. Online viewing rooms are replacing gallery events. (Art in the Time of Stasis,” by James Tarmy, Bloomberg Businessweek. May 11, 2020, pgs. 56-57.) Entire rooms of virtual white walls now substitute for real ones. And, surprisingly, Instagram has become a social platform where buyers and opinion-makers of the art world are gathering. It may be that while Covid-19 rages, art that mirrors life will see itself through the new lens of technology.