State of the Arts – crowd sourcing creativity

Victoria Ward
Victoria Ward

 crowd sourcing creativity

“Today everything is about the audience, not the object, project, art, movie etc. Whereas art once engaged people into a realm perhaps different or alternative than their own, today familiarity is all its about and through audience participation over time (fan sites, screenwriters talking directly to fans thru social media, crowd sourcing) the fans become the center of the creation. Thus the need to house these kinds of exhibits (ex. Game of Thrones)  in art galleries – in the same breadth it’s a Star Trek convention and it legitimises their craft. There is no doubt talented people work on these projects, but their work is only in support of making the audience count most because it is the audience who helps with profits. The audience is created and nurtured now through strategic, psychological marketing using sites like Facebook.”

So went a conversation I had on Facebook. It must be a new kind of phenomenon that we are now talking to each other on Facebook about Facebook. What I was referring to in the above comment was that we seem to be in time where creativity is shared extensively throughout these new technological mediums like Facebook but it is also devolving from being the most important criteria for progress into something you can instagram while driving. In fact I would go so far as to say that art making and other creative endeavours are being pushed into realms of casual interest and leisure activities, no longer viewed as important or worthy of dedicating your life to them. Yet we have never had so many ways to share creativity, and there’s the rub.

Commercially made stuff that sells really well or creativity piggy backed onto huge commercial entities is where its at right now. There is no longer any discussion about that fact that some things can’t have a bottom line, that they exist regardless of one and their inevitability is also a reason why they should be valued. Those valiant arbiters of reading, writing and drawing who stab away at social media vying to be heard are welcome relief to those of us who can’t stomach another cat video.

Quite engagement isn't old fashioned, it's just not profitable.
Quite engagement isn’t old fashioned, it’s just not profitable.

Sadly thirty of years of conservative ideology across the world have landed us here, a place where nothing counts unless it makes a profit. This kind of thinking creates situations like Detroit where people are having their water turned off because they haven’t paid their utility bills. Even criminals in prison get water. In the arts it has meant that numbers are everything. How much a work sells for, how many people attended, how much time it takes to make work, how many years in school, how many people clicked the LIKE button and so on.

It could be that our pursuit to engage the public en mass has made us lost. A public gallery for instance, could be a place to exhibit the ineffable in our world, the struggle of civilization, the mad and unanswerable questions, the marginal and the mystery that is life itself. Turning it into a retail space that can be rented by blockbuster exhibitions kills art’s investigations of the difficult. Thinking, contemplation, silence are perhaps the last vestiges of things that can’t be monetized.  I like a rousing festival as much as the next person but I need my quiet time with art too.

Crowd sourcing, interactive art exhibitions sponsored by tech companies, and celebrities owned by media companies are defining the art experience of the 21st century. It would all be thrilling if only it weren’t underscored by a corporate ethos that until recently couldn’t wedge itself into the art world. My mother used to say once money was the focus all that was left was the hunt. Money & art are old buddies, this isn’t new, what is new is that creativity at its core is being determined by committee through technologies owned by multi-national companies that don’t care about you or your work. Corporations have figured out that they can get their customers to write a happy ending if an artist won’t.

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