For the majority of civilized history, art and entertainment remained distinctly separate. Art, created by visionaries, was reserved for the governing aristocracy, while the commoners mingled about at tournaments of sport or observed theatrics. We have witnessed, in the last century, the democratization of art and its subsequent transformation to entertainment. The public art gallery changed art from object of observation to one of many participants in the new entertainment of art. Art began to cross the line of entertainment and entertainment began to cross the line of art (think ‘art haus cinema’). This violent reaction to the notion of ‘art for all’ has only been accelerated and exacerbated by the connection of the internet. Social media transforms the human into an art piece where life is synonymous with content.
The artist can no longer function simply as ‘painter’ or ‘sculptor.’ Though purley tactile mediums like these once provided the necessary perspective for art to serve its purpose, they have been replaced with higher fidelity, repeatable processes, that render their purpose obsolete. The inherent commentary of the physical act no longer translates as it neglects the now more omnipresent aspect of human life: the digital realm. The greatest artists today are those who integrate digital automation with the tactility and chaos of the physical. Computer programming has become an invaluable asset to the artist of our age.
The disconnect between the black box of mobile technology and the wide open has only further increased our thirst for the digital stimulus. With the growing library of face filters available through the cloud, one could stay entertained for hours on end with no participatory input other than the face we face in the mirror every day. We perceive ourselves as connected to our devices but we do not perceive our devices as connected to ourselves. The device becomes an interface terminal for the informatic ether of radio waves that surround us but this limits the potential of the relationship.
In order for us to glean the maximum understanding from the short period of time we have to experience life consciously, perhaps we should take a different approach to our relationship to our devices. Perhaps a more ascetic, practical approach should be applied to technology wherein the device is designed to augment our function within our environment. We must enable ourselves to merge digital capacity with physical causality in a meaningful way to create a societal fusion reaction. We have long endured technological fission and, though its immense power has given us many things, it has also damaged the spirit of humanity.
The siren’s call of comforting entertainment shall be muffled as humanity begins its voyage through the dangerous seas before us in the hopes that we emerge, unscathed, beyond.