This could conceivably be a case of “great minds think alike”: Just one day after I posted what I thought was my own cleverly coined one-word critique of the Guggenheim’s deal with YouTube—the “Googleheim”—that same hybrid word was deployed in a Sept. 23 article by Rachel Hewitt that appeared on the website of Chicago Art Magazine.
But that ain’t all. In a puzzling turn of events that by no stretch of the imagination could be ascribed to “great minds think alike,” the very same article that Hewitt ostensibly wrote for Chicago Art Magazine has now shown up (dated Sept. 27) on the Huffington Post‘s arts page, but under a different byline—Kathryn Born, Chicago Art Magazine‘s editor-in-chief. Will the real author please stand up?
It seems to me that if you’re going to attack a museum’s ethics, as Born/Hewitt did, you at least ought to have your own ducks in a row.
UPDATE: Born now tells me that “Hewitt was commissioned by me
to write the story” and an assistant uploaded it to the Huffington
Post. (She didn’t specifically state that the assistant was responsible
for the byline change.) As for “Googleheim,” Kathryn writes: “Not a big
creative stretch to put those two words together. It’s not genius like
Bradjelina or funemployed.” (Actually, I had always thought it was
For the record, I’m not particularly concerned about whether Google (the parent company of YouTube) is providing financial support for the Guggenheim’s “YouTube Play” initiative (although the museum does owe reporters a candid answer to queries about sponsorship).
What bothers me more is the Guggenheim’s shameless promotion of corporate entities—both in naming its new video biennial for YouTube, and in hyping (at the bottom of this press release, for example) the business activities of the three commercial partners (also including HP and Intel) in this initiative.
Some months ago, when YouTube Play was first announced, I shot off an e-mail to a press spokesperson for HP, asking by what criteria that company can claim to be “the world’s largest technology
company,” as it is described by the Guggenheim in its own press release. What about Apple and Microsoft (or Google, for that matter)?
HP’s spokesperson and I had several I’ll-get-back-to-you exchanges, but no answer was forthcoming. When the spokesperson attempted to talk to me about this off the record, I declined, insisting that this was a question that the company should be able to answer for publication, having made this claim publicly (abetted by the Guggenheim).
For what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time that the Guggenheim (which I recently praised here) has gurgled for Google. The museum’s Design It: Shelter Competition last year compelled all entrants to design their submissions using Google SketchUp and then to geographically site their models on Google Earth. Mastering the SketchUp program (the Pro version of which is a product that Google sells) entailed a significant learning curve. Entrants also were required to upload their designs to Google 3D Warehouse, for which they had to sign up for a Google account. It was a global Google boondoggle, with the museum as accomplice,
And the Goog isn’t the only museum to have flown that company’s flag. Below is a photo that I took of the exterior of the Goo-per Hewitt back in June 2009, when it was promoting “Doodle 4 Google”—a youth indoctrination program. According to the museum’s own description:
Children from across the United States were challenged to think like
designers and utilize Google’s iconic logo as a springboard to convey
…not to mention Google’s message:
Wait a minute! This just in: The Guggenheim is poised to launch yet another corporate-branded program! Obviating my need to arise early on Friday morning to attend the planned Guggenheim press briefing about its “new global initiative,” Carol Vogel of the NY Times has helpfully brought us advance word about three temporary “BMW Guggenheim Labs” that will travel internationally over a six-year period, hosting discussions among experts “about the complexities, realities and problems of urban living.” These orbiting Guggenheim satellites will be “designed by architects,” Vogel informs us.
What we all really want to know is: Will these architects use Google SketchUp? Will they get paid in BMWs?