The Future of Art in Networked Times

Fountain is a 1917 work by Marcel Duchamp

Last week many of us turned in art proposals in hopes of financial support for our little, or in some cases huge, artistic desert visions. The value and beauty of many of these projects is not only their eventual physical manifestation; the highly collaborative nature of their conception and construction is equally important.

Historically, in the early parts of the twentieth century, collectives and collaborative art production were a feature of Dadaism, Surrealism and Constructivism. This spirit of collective art production was then revived in the 60s by the Fluxus, Conceptual, community-based, and feminist art movements.

‘The greatest legacy of the 1960s is the community based arts’ – Lucy Lippard

Turning to our current world of desert art making, how is this collaborative nature changing the current language/dialogue of art? And how is it doing so using the many web networking tools we have at our disposal? With the importance of the art making moving from ‘appearance’ to ‘conception’ and now to ‘society’  how is Burning Man participating in fundamentally changing values within art?

The Berlin-based KS12 collective is asking some similar questions about the fundamental nature of art in highly networked times in their “The Future of Art” – an immediated autodocumentary.  The film was shot, edited and shown at the Transmediale festival last week and supplemented by realtime photos from Flickr, videos from Vimeo, and questions via Quora. It was open to for anyone to submit to the process of production. The very tools of these highly networked times shaped the film; it was a production-as-process work.

The Future of Art from KS12 on Vimeo.

The questions they were investigating are very relevant to the Burning Man art making process:

What are the defining aesthetics of art in the networked era? How is mass collaboration changing notions of ownership in art? How does micropatronage change the way artists produce and distribute artwork?

These are some of the very questions that one ponders when making work with collaborative groups such as the Flux Foundation and Flaming Lotus Girls. Last year we saw many examples of the importance of networking tools. We saw the power of social networking as it challenged Paypal, and Kickstarter revolutionized the fundraising process for countless creative projects, making the concept of ‘micropatronage’ not only tangible but accessible and essential to successful work.

In what other ways do you see this networked era change and challenge our ideas of art and art making?

About the author: Jess Hobbs

People have often described Jessica Hobbs as someone trying to lead a compulsively artistic life, which is more or less true. She started off her adventure in a small Sierra Foothill town and eventually meandered her way to the San Francisco Bay Area. Along the way Jess has worn many hats; running and creating community art programs, counseling teenagers, curating, exhibiting, designing, photographing and playing with some girls who love lipstick and accelerants. She is an MFA graduate from the San Francisco Art Institute and has been wandering and creating in the dust fest for well over a decade. She believes collaboration is key in community and art. This idea formally began with her collaborative performance work at UCSC and has continued to be a core element in her artistic practice. This core value can been seen in her collaborative project with Felecia Carlisle, Wedding Portraits created for SFAC's Art On Market Street Program, in her work directing the Crucible Steel Gallery at CELLspace, in her creations as a Flaming Lotus Girl and in her work wrangling the Shipyard Labs.

6 thoughts on “The Future of Art in Networked Times

  • The future of art is when people stop realizing they been programed by our unsustainable society and start working with the sustainable world of nature. Why can’t BM art be brought back to people community and have many functions, like water catchment,filter, or food growing towers? Why, because we have been programed to not think this way.

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  • I see different strands in Art’s future – long-contemplated & planned pieces & actions, which will be mostly localized; and spontaneous collaborations (often electronic) playing off converging energies. Neither one is better, but the spontaneous creations tend to be more superficial, with an eye to their impact, and the slower-growing planned expressions part of a longer-term artscape. A good example of the former would be Navajo weaving. A fine example of the latter is Album-Cover-O-Matic, a mashup of Wikipedia, quotationspage.com and flickr in which randomness and simple rules combine to produce a band name, album title and image. The ones I came up with are as good as any “real” albums – “Latvia (disambiguation)”, anyone?

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