Is "art" art if it's personal?

A must-read article from The New Atlantis: The Age of Egocasting

But scientific study and cultural criticism have never succeeded in persuading Americans to give up their televisions. “Throughout our history with The Box,” argues Bruce Gronbeck, “we have believed fervently that it brings good, not bad; that even when it’s bad it can be controlled; and that when we cannot control ourselves a technology will arise to help us do it.” ~TiVo is precisely this kind of technology. By helping us control what we watch and when we watch it, we mistakenly believe that we are also exercising a broader self-control over our television viewing habits; by only watching what we want to watch, we reason, we will watch less. But early evidence suggests that this is not the case. ~TiVo users actually end up watching more hours of television every week, including shows they might have skipped without regret if they were not available “on demand.” By emphasizing the efficiency of the technology—rather than what the technology is making more efficient—we avoid having to ask whether we really should be watching so much television in the first place, or reflect upon what television does to our intellect and character.
~TiVo is God’s machine, the iPod plays our own personal symphonies, and each device brings with it its own series of individualized rituals. What we don’t seem to realize is that ritual thoroughly personalized is no longer religion or art. It is fetish. And unlike religion and art, which encourage us to transcend our own experience, fetish urges us to return obsessively to the sounds and images of an arrested stage of development.

This is a dichotomy (n-tomy?) that is tearing me internally: The egomaniac in me wants more and more control of my own free time, it wants to say "nobody can say what I can and can't do". The geek in me just marvels at the coolness of all the things technology can do. The marketing manager in me drools at the possibility of providing and receiving completely personalized content. The industry analyst in me nods and says "this is the way people and corporations will want it to go".

The (too-often-neglected) budoka in me just smiles and reminds me that this is still a real world, no matter how much the egomaniac wants to embed itself in its simple and comfortable "me" -world. It tells me to just be at ease with the world, and take a deep breath. There is choice also in listening to the sounds of the streets. There is also choice in turning the television off. There is choice in not saying instantly "X sucks, because it's not perfect" - something I've seen a lot lately. You don't need to become a broadly but shallowly informed, instant critic of everything. You don't need to force everything to like you - because in a world of complete choice, you will be cast adrift by your own whims.

In a world, where every choice is correct, you cannot - would not - take responsibility for your actions. Even if all the technology in the world would do your bidding, other people would not. But no matter, you could escape into your own, private comfortable world where there would be no harm. Or try and force the other people to do what you want. After all, you would be the center of the universe.

There is value in struggle.

(This thing made me think. It would explain a great many matters I've been pondering lately. Must re-evaluate some things yet again. I have much I could write on this, but perhaps I should just shut up for a while.)

(Via Smart Mobs, which also contains a summary critique of this piece with some references.)




Comments

Perkele. Hyvä merkintä. Just tämän takia luen tätä. Tulee mieleen Scott ~McCloudin omakuva "Can't stop thinking", mutta ilman ironian suojakenttää. Ei muuta. Jatkakaa.

--J-Ko, 25-Jan-2005


Thanks for this piece of art work.

Once I found an attribute of "art": Something people cannot pass unconcerned. If you take it: obviously there will be no "personal art". And: If art will be the goal, there will be no "personal something".

I fear that there is only a very small "me" in me, about not existent, the David chooser in the thick of a Goliat natur, who inherently dreads to be noticed. Better to take a deep breath and be at ease with Goliat ... until there is "my" brave moment. Nature, industry, marketing and technology won't notice till than. I call that hope.

Rolf

--194.113.59.79, 27-Jan-2005


Kiitos. Thanks.

--JanneJalkanen, 28-Jan-2005


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