Justin R. Erenkrantz Where do you want to go today?

Untitled Snapshot #3

The entire landscape of the art world will drastically change in the next century. By the end of the next century, we will not recognize the art world. This sounds like a strong statement to make, but, in reality, it is relatively mild. From our current perspective, we will not be able to recognize the art world. Everything will be different. The question we must ask ourselves is whether, at some point in the future, will we be able to notice the gradual changes from the present? Chances are that we will not be able to pinpoint as to when the art world was changed. The changes will take place in small, yet vaguely noticeable increments.

Art can and almost certainly will change. Some people might believe that art is in fact static. The claim that nothing ever changes. From a purely abstract representation, this view is accurate. Art is merely the release of our own innate imagination and intelligence. It does not matter what form it is in. Yet, at the same point, it is interesting to examine how this form has evolved over time. The form of art is what is dynamic. The form and expression of art can drastically change, but in the end, the essence of art remains the same. So, let´s examine one case study of this change in form: rock and roll.

One of the most stunning changes in the recent art world is that of music, and in particular rock and roll. There are those (typically older people) who say that rock and roll came and took over the music world in one fell swoop. However, if we were to examine the history of rock and roll, we will see that in fact the changes did not take place overnight, and that these changes were the result of the influence of many different people and that rock and roll led to the creation of other genres. To many people, Elvis Presley was the first rock and roll star. In reality, he was only the first white rock and roll star. This is not to diminish Elvis´s stature in history, but rather to point out the nature of American society in the 1950s. America was highly segregated and fighting with itself over racial equality. As a result of that environment, most people did not recognize the influence of black artists on the music. In fact, rock and roll owes a lot of its roots to the typically black rhythm and blues style.

The two people who were probably the most influential in this separation between rhythm and blues and this new style of music were Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Chuck Berry introduced the playing of the guitar and Little Richard brought a knack for the flamboyant. The two of them started the genre rolling. Yet, rock and roll as a genre itself did not last very long. It, in turn, metamorphosed into rock. But, what is not debatable, however, is their influence on people who would later be called rock legends. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Grateful Dead all owed homage to their rock and roll heroes. The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead have both recorded numerous rock and roll songs. There is a certain pleasure in hearing The Grateful Dead singing Berry´s Johnny B. Goode. The dynamic nature of the art is incredible, but if one were to have lived through the entire era, the distinction between rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and rock is very blurred because it would have happened in such a short amount of time that there would be no time for contemplation. And, in hindsight, however, we make the distinctions more concrete because we have a desire to classify.

Now, that we have studied the past for evidence of change, what does this indicate about the future? Besides blurring the lines of preconceived notions, nothing. Since I do not have a crystal ball, I can not (and refuse to) predict how the art world will look in twenty years. However, there is one trend that deserves attention: digitalization. Over the last twenty years, the world around us has become more wired. Everything is be invaded by the power of computers (and their programmers). It is highly possible that this digitization of the world will overshadow all present conceptions of our world including art. There are already a few people who believe that this digitization has already altered out world.

Nicholas Negroponte, professor and founder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology´s famed Media Lab, has written a book called Being Digital. In it, Dr. Negroponte makes the distinction between the physical world (represented by an atom) and the digital world (represented by a bit - a binary one or zero). The bit and the atom are the fundamental building block of their respective universes. With them, everything can be created. Dr. Negroponte goes on to wonder why we even bother with the physical world. Since his specialty is human-computer interaction, he believes that we should minimize any needless conversions to the physical world. The physical world is a necessity because we reside in it, but the digital world needs not reside in the physical. This analysis is very similar to Suzanne Langer´s distinction between the art world and the physical world in her essay Feeling And Form (indeed the term virtual is frequently used in the digital world). In a world where the physical world is not stressed, the art would also inevitably change to represent this new medium. The ways of which this transformation will occur are unknown, except for the fact that they will occur.

Will art change? Yes. How will it change? Who knows. It is unlikely that we will even notice this change. At some point, we might stop and find ourselves remembering what the Mona Lisa looked like behind the glass panes of the Musée du Louvre. Then, we´d minimize our word processor program, switch to our web browser and go to the Musée du Louvre´s web site and bring up the Mona Lisa´s blank stare. Or, can we not do that already?


Last Modified Friday, 20-Aug-2010 02:50:29 EDT These pages were made by Justin R. Erenkrantz unless otherwise stated. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. These pages will look best in an XHTML 1.0 compliant browser.

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