Technology & Art: A Millennial Merging of Two Worlds

At first stroke, Blake Jamieson’s approach may seem like a ploy to hack the modern museum with his Millennial madness, but it’s really an insightful, thoughtful journey into the art realm for an entire generation whose first and only visit to a museum started and ended on a yellow school bus.
August 4, 2016 – San Francisco, CAWhen you walk the halls of a museum and learn about the artists whose great works are showcased there, it’s not uncommon to hear tales of those who starved for their craft, whose expressions are oil piled on canvas.  Or even the artists with treasure troves of work that didn’t become valuable until after their death. That was the artist of yesteryear. Many of today’s emerging artists have never touched a brush to canvas — only an aerosol can to concrete.  And while they could certainly explain why you need to convert RGB to CMYK, they may not know the difference between tempera from acrylic. In a world where businesses and media cater to Generation X and Y’s demand for instant gratification, Jamieson has been asking the question, “how I get my art into SFMOMA?”

This is not a new question; it’s a paradigm that artists and curators have tried to navigate for ages.  But Blake Jamieson is tackling this question in a new way with a lofty goal — and holding himself publicly accountable on his journey.  

On June 1, 2016 Jamieson launched He posts a new short film everyday to the site documenting this project.  The video ‘diary’ is a unique window not only into the mind of the artist, but also a discovery of how the art word works. With the 90th day looming on August 31, Jamieson has less than 30 days left to achieve his goal.

Jamieson has been an artist all of his Millennial life. Finger Painting on paper as a child gave way to the today’s canvas – the computer monitor.  In his late 20’s he found himself living a charmed Southern California life freelancing as a digital marketer. Able to begin and end his days in his pj’s, his works of art were campaigns for a client roster of fortune 500 companies.

One of these clients, a big national retail chain, made him a significant offer to relocate to Arizona in 2014.  After a year and a half, the transition from LA freelance to Arizona cubicle proved too much, so his employer reluctantly released him back to the freelance lifestyle that often defines Millennials.

His social life had also dramatically changed. Knowing no one in Arizona and living most of his life online, Jamieson turned to where most people his age go to for connection. Tinder. Jamieson applied his digital branding know-how to his profile on Tinder, the hot-or-not-style dating app, where he exploited the platform with results peaking at 4,500 matches and garnering a significant amount of press from outlets such as this one from Adweek where he was deemed the “man who hacked Tinder.”          

When one of Jamieson’s clients needed him to help with his entry in the Mobile Premier Awards (MPA) in Barcelona, he agreed to travel there — with the provision that he could stay in Spain long after the work was done.  Jamieson immediately fell in love with the city. 

Barcelona has long been considered a city that has embraced art like no other. That spirit is reflected not only in its famous galleries but on the facades of its buildings. As with most Millennials it was a tour of Barcelona’s graffiti and street art that shocked his system. “It reawakened something dormant inside of me,” Jamieson says. “I loved the way Barcelona embraced this unconventional, anarchist artistic expression,” he says.  “I wanted to stay there forever.”

Jamieson immediately found a local art store and spent his evenings making stencils on the roof of his hostel and contributing to Barcelona’s street art at night.  This creative bliss would soon need to find a new home as his 90-day visa would soon expire.  So upon his return to the United States, he made a very public vow to spend the next 90 days challenging conventions stateside.  “90 Days to SFMOMA” was born. 

As a true Millennial, Jamieson has a love/hate relationship with the museum industry as a whole. Art and artists have always pushed the envelope and explored the boundaries of creativity, showcasing new approaches and new ways of looking at things.  Despite this, Jamieson feels that the Museum industry is extremely rigid. 

“I feel like Museums are trying to be in control of something that they shouldn’t try to control and that they won’t be able to control in the future,” he says.  “I brought my camera into SFMOMA for this project and was told immediately that there was no video allowed in the Museum, but people were allowed to take photos.”

This paradox illuminates the fact that museums may experience the same fate as Blockbuster unless they begin to embrace the modern realities and ways that people interact, Jamieson says.  “A few museums have responded to this disruption.  LACMA in Los Angeles, for example.  But most haven’t adapted to evolving technologies and attitudes,” he says.

“There is a museum board meeting underway right now where its members don’t understand what speaks to a new generation of art lovers,” he says.  “My hope is that ‘90 Days to SFMOMA’ will leave a lasting impact on the way museum’s embrace and exhibit this new generation.”

Is Jamieson an artist whose work is worthy of a SFMOMA exhibition?  The beauty and challenge of this project is that you — along with the curators — can decide for yourself.