What is it about selection, jurying and ranked lists that always generates a response in most people - including me?
For the record, I responded very positively to the reasoning that Tracy had set out in her post More concerning the Fine Art Department and less well to the email which 'thought' my readers might find it interesting and hence that I would want to mention both it and the fact that I'd been included in a list on this blog.
My thoughts on selection, jurying and ranked lists
Emotional response - The word 'selection' has all sorts of potential negative connotations - it's associated with 'rejection' as well as 'success'. It's both a 'turn on' and a 'switch off'.
Not surprising then that people can often feel twitchy and also feel a need to explain their reasons when consciously making a selection.
However when one person is chosen over another it does not mean that the person who is not chosen is 'not good enough'.
Who is the best? Who's to say? Juried selection may appear to "get it wrong" at times but that's only because assessment is subjective. My eyes and experience are individual to me - they don't see art the same way as other people.
If there's one thing I've learned from watching people enter work into exhibitions it's that the decision will vary depending on who looks at the work in a given context. What gets rejected from one exhibition will win prizes in another.
If I've learned anything from going to exhibitions with other people it is that we may all agree about certain works which we think are good - but in all probability we'll all select something different as our 'standout top prize' piece.
Ergo - who is best is entirely subjective.
Respect - I know I always look very closely at the artwork chosen by people I respect.
If you produce good work - in my eyes - then I respect your judgement. If you talk intelligently about art - in my view - then I respect your judgement. Even when I don't agree with you.
If I respect your judgement and you tell me who you rate and provide a link then, in all probability, I'll check out the website.
The listing/linking wheeze - If you turn up out of the blue with no name and no background with a top 100 list then I'm afraid I find it very difficult to take you seriously. Especially if you have no background with me, no name on display on the website/blog and no credentials on display (as was the case with the website/blog which was the subject of this morning's email.)
The ranked list wheeze is a very common tool used by those who are looking to optimise their own ranking in the search engines. It works like this:
- list top ranked blogs (very often a 100 - because of course it's so much nicer to get 100 potential link backs rather than just 10!)
- create a post about their top 100 list on their (often very new) blog,
- email the list to all those listed and 'suggest' that those included might want to mention that their blog is on the list.
- get a load of links
- their own ranking shoots up. Despite the fact they've done very little to earn that ranking in terms of the creation of solid content.
Well I'm sorry - but that's not the way I operate. Establish yourself, display or earn your credentials (eg by creating an archive of good quality posts) and only then create that sort of list. Then I'll take you very seriously and be pleased to acknowledge you and your list on this blog - even if my blog does not get included!
Lists and blogrolls - You can find a list of blogs in the blogroll of most blogs. If you like the blog there's a pretty good chance you'll like more than a few of the blogs in the blogroll (unless the blog is one which does 'link swaps').
However I don't think anybody pretends they have all the 'best' people in their blogroll. They make a choice depending on their individual perspective. My perspective is that nobody has to justify who they are and nobody need justify their perspective or their choices for who gets included in their blogroll. However I do understand when you feel a need to explain and even do it myself! ;)
I'm thinking of giving mine an overhaul in the near future and one of the reasons is the new blogger widgets are making me think that I want to focus it more on people who post on a regular basis and produce good quality content - in terms of art or text or both.
Which isn't to say that people I like will not be on my Google Reader list or dropped off my Followers list.
Experience of looking at art - The more we look at art the better we get at selecting what stands out and deserves to be acknowledged as such - through awards or whatever.
It's why I go to as many exhibitions as I can. It's why I like looking at all the work on the website of artists I come across. I'm pleased to say that this year I'm on a roll in terms of selecting prizewinners before I know who they are! :) However I don't think I could have that small boast if I didn't look at art on a regular basis.
Jury credentials - I take a lot more notice of awards given by people who have earned their their jury credentials. The credibility of an art award often depends on who an organisation or art society can get to judge an award.
However I have some caveats about jurors:
- there are a fair few people out there who seem to have made a career out of judging and I'm not sure how I feel about this any more. It seems to me they have the capacity to have an undue influence on outcomes and artists' careers. If they award an artist a prize in one competition, are they more likely to also award a prize to the same person in another?
- Should people be allowed to jury people they mentor? It happens.
- I'm also more than a bit concerned that some jurors apparently are unable to spot 'fakes' and don't know how to apply tests to detect digital fakery.
Fresh eyes are always good too. Hence why the ING Discerning Eye award is so interesting each year. For once we don't see all the 'usual suspects' winning yet more awards! :)
Those are my thoughts but how about you? What do you think - about the process of selection, jurying and jurors and those ranked lists?