To the editors:
I was a little disappointed that Michael Miner (Hot Type, June 22, 1990, “Flag Fever”) missed a chance to score the press on its own confusion in reporting Scott Tyler’s now-pivotal installation “What Is the Proper Way to Display the U.S. Flag” last year at the School of the Art Institute.
Usually the print media reported (and continue to report) that the installation “encouraged” the public to step on the flag which was laid on the floor. In point of fact, any viewer who wanted to write in the comment book was merely inconvenienced if he wanted to avoid stepping on the flag: all you needed to do was stand off to the side and extend your arm a little. Judged on its own terms (and not by any later incendiary comments by the artist himself), the installation may have shown a little “genius” in providing a measure of how many Americans were willing simply to inconvenience themselves a little on the flag’s behalf.
This may seem like nitpicking, but I don’t really think so. Alan Artner saw this nuance in his critical column in the Tribune, but almost no one else in the press did. Perhaps if they’d asked some of the art faculty early on the reporting would have taken a slightly different tack. But, alas, confusion and division make better copy than information and clarification.