Yes there are forms that have evolved through the internet. I’ve tried a couple of them, and have discovered I prefer other ways of going about writing. This doesn’t mean that I don’t find them valuable when other people do them: I think in general, the internet has greatly enriched what’s possible for art criticism and helped to pull us away from models of orthodoxy that were prevalent even in the early 2000s.
I think there are stakes to do with the sustainability of art magazines and writing as a profession – advertising models are changing, galleries and museums are less dependent on magazines for getting word out about their shows as they can use social media and in the case of bigger galleries, their own publishing wings, and nobody has found a model for generating revenue online that can help pay editors and writers a living wage, or recouping reprint costs – there was a time when you had to pay a writer to reprint their article, and now people copy and paste them freely. Print still, for some reason, has prestige for galleries – both in terms of advertising and press coverage – in ways that online coverage doesn’t quite (though this is not to say this isn’t changing) and this means that print magazines still get supported, but if that shifts in the same direction that has affected other forms of publishing, then there’s a danger that writing and editing will become something that only people with independent means can do as a job. I think there’s an implicit class problem in that which will effect how art gets written about.
There are stakes too to do with speed – you can get coverage of a major show or whatever out quickly online, but it’s going to be a different kind of critical response to the one published, say, three months later. Both are totally fine, and in some ways the ability to have both is great. You just have to recognise that they have different characteristics.
I find it a little harder to read much longer texts online but in general I think it’s a question of context and horses for courses. ‘Things you read online’ could range from news headlines to academic papers, and you’re going to adjust your attention accordingly for each situation. I don’t subscribe to the idea that nobody reads longform writing online, not least because I know a great deal of writers (art writers and non-art writers) whose longform writing finds enthusiastic followers online. I think with a magazine such as frieze, which I write for and edit – and this relates to some of the questions/answers above, about the effort put into writing and research – that it’s important to remember that in most parts of the world frieze is not a print magazine but a website or a digital edition. Distribution is getting increasingly patchy for specialist print magazines across the world, and the speed at which print travels from, say, London to Melbourne or Cape Town or Los Angeles or Mumbai means that people are more likely to read online or via digital editions than in print. These days, thinking about print is almost thinking about local audiences as opposed to international ones. Not everyone has a König Books or Printed Matter in their town.
I’m not sure I understand the second part of this question. Isn’t your personal experience of any publishing medium always going to have some influence on the way you write? Nobody writes in a vacuum.
I think the internet allows for a better sense of a certain kind of public. Not all publics are interested in engaging with social networks and discussion forums; for instance, the people who respond to reader surveys tend to be the types of people who like to respond to reader surveys. I think those first few hours of online attention can be gratifying or surprising in ways that they’re not in print, but they also have to be taken with a pinch of salt. The lifespan of a magazine article can be a few days, after which they fade into irrelevance, a few weeks, or a few years – sometimes pieces come back into circulation after years. I’m not personally particularly interested in, say, chasing the Jerry Saltz model of writing criticism – fast and loose, with a lively and combative online presence that reacts very speedily to its audience. It just doesn’t interest me as a writer, and doesn’t suit the way I think or write.
Length is the main structural aspect that I feel more relaxed about online – there is no graphic design grid or page number that puts parameters around how much I can write. That said, I don’t believe in using all that space to ramble on indefinitely – I always try to err on the side of concision rather than digression where possible. As for breadth of research and references, I don’t see why one would pay any less attention to that online that one would in print. Regarding images, there’s scope to include more (as there is greater flexibility with word lengths) and images of different quality – the issue with print is one of resolution, which isn’t so much of a concern (and is even a feature of certain types of image) online.
In general, no. Online allows for a certain kind of show-and-tell shorthand – for instance, you could write online ‘the painting was almost as bad as this’ and have a link through to an image, whereas in print you need to spell things out a bit more. But in general, my writing is only changed by the type of task at hand (e.g. a news piece as opposed to a review or monograph).