The Artworld Loves Clubhouse – But What’s It Selling?


Boiler rooms

For so many of us, the perpetual lockdowns of COVID-19 have been filled with listless, empty moments, ripe for distraction – enter Clubhouse, the new audio app that organises and streams live conversations to your phone, beloved by Silicon Valley thoughtleaders and artworld hustlers alike. But why exactly has Clubhouse thrived, when all it appears to do is turn podcasts back into broadcast radio?

Tech critic Rob Horning explores the peculiar mechanics of exclusivity, clout and urgency that have built the app's hype machine. Why does it always feel like everyone on Clubhouse is selling something? 'What Clubhouse promises is not just information or distraction but that sense of timeliness,' Horning writes, 'moments that can't be duplicated without creating some distance from the original, "real" moment, just as NFTs try to reinvent an exclusive aura for works that are intrinsically duplicable'.

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