Artists (writers, painters, musicians, sculptors, graffitists, indie film makers, etc.) are no longer artists. They are now content providers.
Gone are the days when these tortured souls brooded in their lonely garrets contemplating suicide. Nowadays artists are all connected and their every thought is celebrated throughout the land. There are no more snubs from the public. The artist has no cause to complain about the people just not getting it. The art is out there for comment and a follow-up explanation ensures correct perception of it.
Further, artists need not suffer the rejections of the gatekeepers—the editors, publishers, gallery owners, producers, or patrons–anymore. There is so much demand for new material on the Internet, no one gets rejected. And if they are in any way witty, the artist will soon enjoy an overpopulated tribe. Who has time to mull when the tribal maw is so hungry?
I come from a long line of artists. My mother was a writer and her mother was an alcoholic, so I know I have The Gene. The Gene that every day prods me to get out there and serve up an html, jpeg, or mp3 file that my followers simply must experience.
Long ago I was an innocent, unassuming writer, producing short stories and the occasional novel. I even had a smattering of work published before I and the rest of regular humanity discovered the pleasures of the Internet. Nowadays with the hungry maw in mind, I never write a sentence without trying to figure out what kind of graphic would go with it. What sound file should be embedded. What outrageous statement I make needs a link to prove its point.
Used to be when I asked myself “Will this scan?” I was wondering if the reading audience would get my meaning. Now when I wonder if something will scan it’s because I don’t think my dadgum combination printer/fax/scan machine I thought was such a steal at $249 a couple of months ago, will be able to handle some dangblasted Polaroid from the last century that just has to go into the piece I’m working on.
I think it’s safe to say that the writing life, the Bohemian artistic life, is dead. For one thing we all have to have jobs in order to pay for the bandwidth. Also, though, artists don’t specialize in their chosen specialty any more. They don’t concentrate on the form to perfect the delivery of their ideas and break new ground in the field. Now they’re all movie makers, considering light, sound, and narration in chasing after the attention of the multitudes.
We artists have always needed our audience, but now our audience is not just the tastemakers in our niche. Now our audience is the entire Internet. We happily join in the fray and give away baubles of creativity regardless of whether or not it would pass muster in our special corner of the non-digital world. Who cares about that any more? Gatekeepers? Piffle. Who needs ‘em? Who wants ‘em? All they do is stand in the way. I’ve got a hungry maw to feed.
At the time we face our deaths and our Internet uploads are flashing before our eyes, we artists are no doubt going to be more than a little embarrassed at all those hastily conceived postings. We are going to wish we had been a little more patient with the gatekeepers.
Not to worry, no one will remember tomorrow what we wrote today. In reality we are not songsters, painters, indie film makers. We are not writers; we are content providers.
Sue’s Bookshelf at BookViewCafe.com