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By Matthew Gamber

Over the past few weeks, emotions have erupted in correlation to the economy. Several months ago, we introduced a comment section at the end of each piece. For the first few months, there wasn't much activity. Though, over the past couple of issues, we have received quite an amazing mass of comments, mostly anonymous. It has been interesting to see what is going on beneath the politeness of everyday exchanges. Typically, art conversation is benign, almost like remarking on the weather. The comments are in direct contrast to those niceties, and the tone has been unfiltered and varied: direct, crude, confusing, immature and ethical. As mentioned before in an earlier letter - Big RED welcomes these comments as they are a part of any healthy discussion. However, some of the comments have become more about passive personal attacks, undermining possibility for open debate. To that end, I would like to address some of the philosophy of our content.

Commenters have questioned why our voice is not more critical (or perhaps negative). A word about the kind of writing reproduced here: the content of our publication is the work of volunteers. This dictates the tone of the writing and the variety of submissions. Given that contributors don't have a "beat" or assignments dictated to them, contributors chose to focus on what excites them. Often, when one writes a negative review of what they have seen, the writing often fails because it becomes tedious. When one is not paid to write such an article, why would anyone finish it when there is no apparent benefit? I believe all of us have bouts with negative fits when regarding the business of art in Boston and beyond and everywhere else - that is the obvious view to which we default. When the writing takes the congratulatory turn, I don't encourage it, but I certainly won't dissuade it if it has some kind of logic embedded in it, leading to a conclusion larger than the objects or persons reviewed. Bad art usually just invokes boredom and is ultimately not written up. If you want to know what our writers find interesting, just look to the left hand column. We at Big RED & Shiny did not dictate this column and we have not and will not any other month. This is what appears from the handful of contributions collated from our inboxes, sent to us by volunteer writers.

This is not to discourage critical writing when one feels passionately that something is not right. If you want to see this kind of writing here, and feel you aren't getting it, you need to contribute. This publication is built by a community of people interested in art. However, raw dissent will never be published here unless it is an attempt to create a new way of synthesizing the world around us. This publication is founded on the desire to build something, but not at the cost of tearing down other reputations to build our own. In Aishman's current Report from the Phantom Zone, he notes the difference between an argument, which engages topics and logic, and a fight, which is primal need for dominance. You are in charge of your own revolution. If you want it here, you have to be willing to contribute to it, and focus on what the benefit ratio will be. I welcome it, we welcome it, and always have. If we think of art as being something above the common order, superseding business and local politics, then we must channel our dissent with engagement, and not half-hearted fists in the dark.

If you are reading, and you've thought you could top what one of us wrote, I encourage you to contribute. If you see something worthy of attention that would otherwise be overlooked, I encourage you to send a submission.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

About Author

Matthew Gamber is a Boston-based artist with a BFA from Bowling Green State University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts / Tufts University. He has taught at Art Institute of Boston / Lesley University, Boston College, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, College of the Holy Cross, Savannah College of Art & Design, and Massachusetts College of Art & Design and worked on digital preservation projects for Harvard University and the Boston Public Library. Matthew was the Editor in Chief of Big Red & Shiny from 2004 to 2010.

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