Who Are Today’s Curators? And Where The Hell Are The Rest Of Them?!!
In this Age Of SuperAbundance one of the things we need more than anything is trusted filters. How do we prioritize what to watch? How to discover new work? How do we escape our echo chambers to be reminded of how expansive our taste really is?
We need folks whom we trust to lead us to where we would not go on our own. Ideally, these people will do more than just lead us to good work; they will expand our mind, and widen our social circles. But where are they?
Historically speaking we have depended on our critics and arts institutions to work as our curators. One of the shortcomings of this relationship is that is geographically focused—and we really no longer are. Similarly, historic curators are historically plagued by having to offer consistency to their locally-based community; they need to stay employed and the locals have influence with the institution. It has been rare that curators are rewarded by experimentation or risk taking.
The local arthouse theater, where they still exist, and when they can afford to innovate or even maintain, generally must balance film education with mass audience taste. They have to listen to the large distributors, routinely do their bidding, in order to gain access—or even hoped for access—to the top revenue producing titles. They get penalized if they don’t maintain the full week run. If they can afford to drop the $150K needed to convert to digital projection, still can offer the wide variety that digital transmission promises without risking disrupting the fragile relationships with their top suppliers. The battle for survival makes a varied diet of cinematic variety almost impossible to maintain.
In this Interconnected Age, we can depend on a much wider range of tastemakers, influencers, and early adopters. Curating, when freed from a revenue-based judgement, can take risks and even shift focus from pure entertainment to education and discovery. The hopes of the rapid blossoming of a new curatorial class that I’ve carried in this interconnected age seem to outweigh the reality. I am surprised that as far down the social networking path as we are, the new curator clan has not yet truly emerged. Or have they and I just am too blindly focused on my own things to notice?