Sunday, May 11, 2008

Whatever happened to

I checked in on the Alec Soth blog today to find that it seems to have
entirely disappeared. Back in October, 2007, Soth ended posting with the statement that he was hanging up the blog for a while and was sick of email, so if you wanted to reach him, write a letter. Now all links back to his blog come up dead. Is this a transitional thing? Social media have been touted as photography's next wave of marketing. Soth was a leader in that experiment.

Soth's blog had been used as an example of how social media were able to carry the conversation with and between photographers to the next level. There had been some very interesting exchanges, such as when Soth criticized Robert Polidori's work and started an exchange with him that was eye opening for sure. In the old media world, it would be rare to get a chance to see such a candid exchange of words between such art stars in the public arena. Soth's blog has been quoted as being the inspiration for others at Magnum to start up their own social media experiments. Most notably, David Alan Harvey who has been assigned a role as Magnum's "Minister of Education" and has actively pursued his conversation with the public in his several blog forums.

Of course it is exhausting to sustain a continual conversation with the world. It is also creatively depleting to feel like you have to do so on a steady basis. Blogging is as much about flow as it is about content. The blog needs a steady input of new material that keeps the audience coming back for it to thrive. There is a word for that. It has been around for a very long time and it is nothing new. It's called publishing, and people have been making very good livings at it for generations. They also often have to work 60+ hour weeks in order to succeed at it.

Artists have always carefully crafted their public personae, putting out work that is painstakingly edited and ready to take on an aura of finished completeness. The creative process itself is often a very personal and private one as well. The informality and public availability of the blogging arena seems to completely disarm those processes, or at least offer ways around them. I'm very curious to know what happened here with Alec Soth and his experiment.



(Addendum 5/29/08: The blog is back up, in a new format.)

(Addendum 7/9/08: Rob Haggart interviews Alec Soth to answer this very question.)


Anonymous said...


He closed down his blog permanently back in September because, from what I hear, there was alot of negative noise coming from a few people in the photo blogging community...A lot of jealousy of Alec's success both with his work and with the blog.

They have put the site back up though, as an archive.

Aric Mayer said...


Thanks for the update.

I was afraid that might have been the case. What a shame. His blog really stood out from the rest. It is hard to insulate one's self from that kind of negative noise. I'm sure that must have been a painful decision to make on his part. Alec seemed to really enjoy the process and the conversation.