Some buzzwords I’ve been coming across on the internets lately specifically pertaining to art include: The New Aesthetic, GIF art, social media art, and the teen-girl Tumblr aesthetic. The world-renowned online art blogzine Hyperallergic is mainly responsible for stirring these mind-melding conversations and made we curious about not only trying to figure out the difference between art online vs. offline but how in becomes more or less valuable aesthetically, art historically, and economically. It also made me wonder how the artist, the viewer, the collector, and the critic respond differentially using what set of values to determine a painting on a wall more or less “better” than a digital collage.
In an article titled Selling Out: The Impact of Corporate Social Media Space on Art, Kyle asks if I can imagine ads being sold on a painting by a famous painter. This question redefines the role of the viewer to that of an audience and the painting to that of a consumable, marketable product.
Now, as someone who graduated from a mediocre public university with a BA in art history who trolled away anonymously as a Chelsea gallerina and have contributed to building a community platform for emerging artists thru events like open studios, I can fairly say I know my way around the vagaries of the art world. In addition, as someone who has worked social media, community management, and marketing positions for various startups and companies that nobody knows about I can fairly say I know what people want, both from the consumer side and the corporate/company/brand/talent side.
These well-rounded experiences aside I don’t know what the HELL is going on with digital art and how it influences the way we as viewers, consumers, the general public and online consumers comprehend the absurd and disturbing images and interactions emerging out of the internet.
I’m a strong believer that artists, whether a college grad or an established art star, should very well treat their works and their process as a product and branding voice, respectively. Countless times I’ve told artist friends: “you gotta sell your shit cuz no ones is going to do it best better than you. Value your work, have some self-worth, write an artist-statement/ mission-statement/ business plan and sell that shit. Pay someone to design a pretty website, print biz cards, network your way into the art world, and sell yourself in order to sell your work in order to make a living in order to quit your miserable irrelevant day job in order to pursue your godforsaken dream to be a grown up artist.”
Artists and their respective industry are so mockingly backwards and old school compared to how fast other industries like design and fashion are growing and growing with changing trends. I no longer have any patience for artists who say they hate social media and just want to be locked up in their studio left alone to paint their lonely painting. Call it my preference but contemporary art is about networks, interactive immersive experiences, performances and installations. There’s more superficial wow factor but there’s also plenty more accessibility.
But how to make sense of and speak for the people who create animated gifs and immersive virtual experiences that are void of commerce and impossible to coincide with any existing industry standard? What happens when what we consume and interact with online bleeds into the real world? What’s the influential history and how is it valued? It goes far beyond public art and digital collage and the only way I’m able to even begin comprehending what the hell is going on is reading up The New Aesthetic.
My concern is two fold: commerce and visual trend. While The New Aesthetic sheds light on how contemporary art and image making is created, it doesn’t answer my question of how all the creators of these 8 bit animations and image-layered-on-an-image-within-a-physical-installation make money doing what they do without they’re contributing to a marketing campaign for a corporate brand to go viral by the masses.
Are the folks who meld realities and bring the web to the world’s canvas artists? Are they hackers? Creative directors? It’s clear they are influencing the tastes and creating the trends of aesthetics and media but I’d like to know who they are, what they stand for, and whether what they create is an accidental byproduct of their generation or if they hold a strong belief in what they’re making has a monetary value beyond setting trends and capturing the voice of the current aesthetic, The New Aesthetic.