The Internet Changes Everything, Even Art


I came across this video today Art in the Era of the Internet and found it very interesting. The video features discussions about how internet innovations are changing copyright, arts funding, and collaborative art projects.

Art in the Era of the Internet | Off Book | PBS – YouTube.

I wasn’t familiar with Off Book, a web-only series from PBS. Here is their promo for this piece:

The Internet has intensified connections between people across the planet. In this episode of OFF BOOK, we take a look at the impact of the this new interconnectivity on the art world. Traditional funding models are dissolving, new forms of expressing ownership have arisen to accommodate for remix culture, and artists are finding ways to connect physical art experiences and traditions to the Internet. In the digital era, the experience of art from the perspective of the artist and the art audience is shifting rapidly, and bringing more people into the creative process.

I started to write some rambling thoughts on the work and impact of the three companies represented in this video — Kickstarter, Creative Commons, & The Creators Project — but decided that each could easily be a post.

Here are three quotes from the video:

Lawrence Lessing, cofounder of Creative Commons: My creative utopia is that we have a huge proportion of all of us creating all the time.

Yancey Strickler, co-Founder of Kickstarter, There is no pre-concept whatsoever to the kinds of things that can be made. And I think that is a very powerful opportunity.

Ciel Hunter and Julia Kaganskiy, of the Creators Project
The internet is forcing us to broaden what an artist’s studio should look like.

Do you agree? How is the internet changing how we experience the arts? Are there other ways than what is mentioned in this video? Are these changes positive for the arts? For artists? For audiences? Or are there pitfalls to them as well?

One of the issues that I toss around in my head is whether the “freedom” of anyone to create on the internet is good for every one. Surely there are benefits — and I’ve experienced some of those. (Hello, reader!) But, I think that there are legitimate concerns over the differences between “freedom” and “free”, and sometimes I think that hobbyists (as I am) can sometimes lessen the value of art. The cacophony of voices on the internet can drown out all of the individuals. Fickleness determines if something goes “viral”. We’re all famous for a few minutes — far less than 15, I think. It’s all gone in a nanosecond. If it’s gone, is it still art? Does it matter if we value creativity but not the artist or his/her body of work? Can it all co-exist? Is there really an “internet” community or just small parochial circles that have little contact and even less relevance to other self-contained “communities”?

OK. That is far more than just a few blog posts and a lot of questions for a late Wednesday night! What are your thoughts on any of these questions or on the Off Book video?

PBS Off Book’s Tumbler can be found here.

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2 responses to “The Internet Changes Everything, Even Art

  1. Love Off Book and was also challenged to re-think a lot of what we “accept” regarding the internet…not sure there is a difference between “hobbyist” and “professional” when judging the end-creation of an artistic impulse; the definitions and parameters are very dicey and subjective, though certainly we can identify degrees of technical skill…very interesting, Anne!

    • I think the blurring of hobbyist/professional dichotomy that concerns me is the “free” aspect making creative endeavors commodities of little value. More so than in art, I can use writing as an example. The idea that anybody can write — can be a “citizen journalist” — has lead in part to the devaluing of paid writing. At the same time, people expecting things to be free, don’t want to pay for access. It leads to a downward spiral in what is paid for.

      Music is another example, but one that argues for the positive side of internet access and ease of entry. Think about how the internet — specifically itunes — has changed music. Musicians can bypass the established music industry that isn’t without it’s barriers to entry.

      I don’t know that much about the art world, so I can’t really speak to the actual pressures on the “market”, but I can see how it could have both pros and cons.

      I think that creative endeavors — whether shared with a small circle of acquaintances or with a wider audience — is of great value. But artists deserve to be paid for their creative work and having a substantial monetary value allows the arts to thrive.

      No easy answers!