Welcome to ArtOpticon.us, my new blog about the art of the San Francisco Bay area. I’ll be posting a miscellany of items here on a fairly regular basis: both current, timely material and golden-oldie articles that might be worth saving for the benefit of a grateful posterity. My old blog, DeWittCheng.com, was discontinued a few years ago, when the host company changed hands, so I hope that this blog will avoid a similar dissolution. In any case, many articles from other publications written over the past seventeen years remain online at various URLs, including Facebook.com.
While I will continue to write for publications like ArtLtd, VisualArtSource.com and East Bay Monthly, there are times when a biog makes sense: some items fail the editorial newsworthiness cut, or the Procrustean space constraints of column inches (and readership patience); some pieces require immediate publication online.
A word about the name, which is also the title of the art exhibition program that i manage at the Stanford National Accelerator Laboratory (aka SLAC) and the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (aka IRiSS). The predecessor program, Stanford Art Spaces, ran into some branding issues, so a new name was needed when it was discontinued in 2016.
ArtOpticon is an invented word, suggesting a viewing device for art, an aesthetic version of Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope (in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford). Fictional visionary inventions like H.G. Wells’ crystal egg and Jorge Luis Borges’ aleph also come to mind. Jeremy Bentham’s infamous panopticon, a guard tower at the center of a circular prison, is also implied—though not, I hope, his bizarre auto-icon. I’ve recently seen the word synoptic, referring here to the sum total of observers of the Trump presidency, a ring of sentries focused on the man at the center, Bentham in reverse. Autoptic is also a legal term, meaning eyewitnesses.
In addition to art views and occasional reviews and interviews, I'll be posting about upcoming curating and art catalogue essay projects. There's a lot going on the the Bay Area, and nobody can see everything; but I am happy to share my art adventures, and hope others will do the same.