Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Communities’

Michael Fallon, from The Chronicle of Artistic Failure, has an interesting post at mnartists.org about the new generation of artists emerging and their reactions to critics and to just about anything that questions their artistic authority.

I thought his observations were interesting, albeit slightly inflammatory at times:

“First, it was odd that these students from blink-and-miss-it Carleton were, for the most part, calmer and more relaxed—smug almost—than any twenty-year-old has a right to be in front of such a large audience. This is especially true considering the event, a notable international film festival, was older—at 26 years—than these kids were. But then, this may not be so unusual after all, given the numerous reports from those in-the-know which suggest that most kids of this age—those of the so-called Generation Y, born after about 1980—have come to believe that attention and fame is their very due. According to a 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center, 51% of 18- to 25-year-olds identified “to be famous” as one of their top two goals. This was above “to help people who need help” (30%), “to be leaders in their community” (22%), and “to become more spiritual” (10%), but behind the number one choice (“to get rich,” 81%).

Finally, it was clear to me that the abundant self-confidence on display by these kids wasn’t necessarily evidence of skill or achievement. The film they made was actually not all that good; it was not revealing, not at all introspective, and it made little logical sense.”.

He brings up many valid points and confesses that on occasions, he has found himself at the receiving end of unjust irate reactions from those artists whose works he criticizes.

From the article:

““Young people today,” writes Twenge, “have been consistently taught to put their own needs first and to focus on feeling good about themselves.” She further claims that, despite what you might expect, such self-pampering has done the group nothing but harm. Twenge cites numerous studies which offer evidence for a host of problems among her generational cohorts: a decline in manners and regard for social rules; a disengagement with civic concerns; a tendency toward cheating and an antipathy toward authority; a strong sense of entitlement and inability to take criticism; high levels of drug use; loss of faith in the rewards of responsibility and hard work; increasing sense of loneliness and an inclination toward shorter relationships and sexual promiscuity; rising levels of depression, anxiety, panic, and nervous breakdown; and suicide rates twice what they were in 1950.

Despite its myriad problems, this young generation also has—tellingly, and incongruously—a remarkably high sense of self-regard, or what Twenge calls a “cotton candy sense of self with no basis.” In psychological terms, according to Twenge, her generation is afflicted by abnormally high rates of “clinical narcissism,” a pathology with numerous manifestations (many of which are listed above)”.

I immediately remembered another article I read this week, in “Psychology Today” about The Plight of the Little Emperors, on the subject of China’s “only child” culture. These Chinese children who are now coming of age and, in the author’s words, “expect the world”.

“Chinese parents bemoan their only child’s desire for instant gratification, excessive consumption, and a life free of hardship, but such complaints are just proof that the policy worked: The children are like little Americans.

and

“Since the policy’s inception, the Chinese have worried that the extreme combination of discipline and indulgence would result in maladjusted kids, self-centered brats who can’t take criticism and don’t understand sharing. Asked if he wished he’d had siblings, one 22-year-old from Sichuan province replied, “Does this mean everything I have would have to be cut in half or shared? No, I don’t want that.””

These two articles, discussing two seemingly opposite cultures, actually highlight rather similar phenomenons within the same generation, namely the apparent sense of entitlement, hedonistic approach to life, difficultly dealing with criticism, etc. I cannot help but wonder if this is the result of globalization and the marketing approach we’ve seen for the past 20 years or so. Generation “Me” is not the result of a vacuum, an isolated development but rather, the result of many external influences, amongst which might be consumerism and the social aspiration of consumption as a defining factor of our personalities. Such trend has not emerged only in the western world, but on a global basis, with brands released everywhere simultaneously and campaigns only slightly tailored to local cultures. Also, worth noting, is fame as a social aspiration. Is this related to small/ local communities losing appeal and the appearance of the “global stage”? When we grow up with the impression that the whole world is a village, how could we possible aspire to less than global recognition?

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next decade or two, as this generation matures and actually exercises leadership and drives the decision making process.

Read Full Post »

I recently wrote on the subject of Museums and the communities they serve and, coincidentally, today, I found an extremely interesting article on this same subject on the excellent blog Museum 2.0.

This is a must read for cultural enterprises that would like to start taking steps in the social media arena.

From the article:

If you get people in a museum (or library) for WHATEVER reason, chances are they’re going to notice the exhibits sometime. And hopefully, start to value them”.

and:

The key to these benefits is not the volume of online content produced but its reach. Don’t look at the number of videos, photos, or reviews. Look at the number of views (how many times each has been accessed). The Ontario Science Center YouTube meetup didn’t just spawn hundreds of videos before, during, and after the event. Each of those videos has hundreds or thousands of viewers. Some of the videos have as many as 35,000 views. And while not all of the videos mention their host by name (in fact, few do), the museum venue is frequently present in related text and links. Plus, folks who attended the event link to other videos shot at the museum, such as this “888 favorite” (shot in 2006) of someone using an exhibit. Number of views? 170,000 and counting.”.

This is, in my opinion, the future of any cultural institution that wants to be part of a community. Art should not about some detached view from the outside, it should be part of our lives, a fundamental component of our social interactions. For me, art is about the aesthetics that shape our world view and make us richer as a result. I might be a Utopian, but if art is worth anything, it should be for its power to change lives. Once someone has been exposed to the beauty of human creativity in any of its forms, they cannot go back to ignoring that side of humanity, and if we are lucky, they might start exploring their own creative sides as well.

Read Full Post »

A post by Brian Eno on The Long Now blog on a tradition in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau, where the whole town (really, including children, youth, etc… everyone who lives there) participates in a theater play, The Passion since 1634.

Brian Eno asks:

“I kept returning to this thought: what would it do to a community to have a tradition as long and as defining as that, to know from an early age that you were, probably throughout your life, going to be woven into this incredibly rich tapestry of time, spirituality, art and craft? What would it be like to be a child growing up there, to watch your parents and grandparents learning their lines and practicing their parts and building the sets and making the clothes? It must be so rich, such a powerful social binder and foundation”.

I cannot think of a better question to illustrate the way I feel when I attempt to help institutions or individuals create communities around the arts. I cannot think of a more poetic, powerful and inspiring way to explain why I do what I do. The technology we use might be new, but the effects it could have on the lives of those that participate could have a long and lasting impact, leaving an impression and imprint in people’s lives for years to come. These communities could be agents of real change. I do believe in that.

Read Full Post »

Dave Pollard, at Salon blogs, writes about the 12 tools that might follow the way of the fax machine and the CD:

“Out of my research on this has come a list of tools, technologies and other artifacts of my generation that will probably disappear within the next generation, just as Fax essentially disappeared less than 20 years after it first became popular, and just as CDs, which my generation thought were the last word in music storage, are disappearing even faster”.

From the list, the one that caught my attention immediately was item number 5:

“Corporate Websites: I recently co-judged a competition of nominated best-of-class business websites, and I was aghast at how unnavigable and useless most of them were. My own research has indicated that most people who visit these sites are job-seekers, the media, and competitors. A combination of marketing/PR hype, just-in-case recycled internal junk, and self-congratulation, most corporate websites are devoid of useful content, and those that do have useful stuff have it buried where it can’t be found. You just can’t put a filing cabinet up online and expect people to wade through it. And your relationship isn’t with Company X, it’s with Individual Y at that company. Individual Y’s blog, with lots of contact info, timely, casual-style articles and useful links, and instant connectivity options, is to the corporate website what your personal company rep is to walking into the company cold and asking for help. Next-gen blogs by individual employees — personal, casual, chatty, accessible, hosted but uncensored by the employer — will soon blow even the best corporate websites out of the water”.

The question here is, where do Cultural institutions and artists stand nowadays in this regard? Some of them, like New York’s Museum of Modern Art, are making efforts to create a presence with a social media bent. Their website features a YouTube channel, an iTunes link to download content, a comprehensive and abundant list of audio guides to download, stream or listen to on site and a link to their Facebook presence. All of these, steps in the right direction in terms of audience engagement and availability of tools to make the museum experience richer. Still, I am missing the community experience, the active participation of audiences in the museum’s life. All of the above initiatives, still seem to be “top down” strategies, where the museum graciously “gives” the public something and not where the relationship is of mutual feedback, one where the museum gives something and the community gives back.

Other museums, like Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum are not even as forward thinking as MoMA, offering static websites, where the only “participatory” experience is the ubiquitous webshop.

There are many ways in which museums could take the center stage of their communities and become tools of change, education and cultural dissemination. Social media implementations would take them to the next generation and at the same time, redefine their roles as static displayers of artifacts turning them into institutions generating new content while creating value by preserving the past. A few ideas that come to mind that could, if properly implemented, create a totally new museum experience:

  • Artists blogging during exhibitions. I could think of a myriad ways in which modern artists could offer reflections and explanations of old works that served them as inspiration, engaging the community and audience with commentary, sharing this inspiration with the newer generations and bringing a new light into works that are not always accessible for the general public.
  • Audience curated exhibitions. How about letting the public vote on what they want to see once a year and bring together those works that are not always accessible or lack visibility?
  • Forums. Let your public share their experience of the museum visit, let them talk to each other and foster that community by allowing them to relive the visit, discuss it and perhaps, in the process, discover works that they didn’t know about.

    If corporate websites, as a static collection of pages and data are following the fate of the fax machine, the websites of cultural institutions are not up for a different future. The only way to remain relevant will most likely be through the reinvention of their web presence including and fostering community participation and the use of new technologies.

    Read Full Post »