The Democratization of Production, Part I


Illustration by R. Luke DuBois

July 28, 2010

This first post is an introduction both to me and to some of the things I’d like to talk about while blogging for the Take. I’m a composer, but in a slightly looser sense of the word than you might expect. I write string quartets, but I also perform onstage as a live visualist and musician, make feature-length cinematic work, public art installations, interactive Web sites, and design performance works for ensembles of people with laptop computers.

In all of these domains except music, I am self-taught. I didn’t go to art school; no one ever gave me an MFA in film, and I have no specific competence in design or engineering. When I do make something that most people would agree was “music,” I use algorithmic methodologies to create notes, generating material using everything from physics equations to mathematical models of other composer’s musical style to the casualty stream of the Iraq war. In short, I use computers.

But like many fine artists who work with computers to make their art these days, I’m not particularly interested in the technology per se. I’ve had a computer since I was 9 years old, and a Web site since I was 19. Computer programming to me isn’t particularly easy (again, I never took a class), but it’s incredibly normal: just as normal, in fact, as publishing your video artwork online.

In my posts for this blog, I’ll be working off of the assumption that YouTube is the perfectly natural end-result of the democratization of filmmaking that began with the Super-8 and the Portapak and continues today with camera-equipped smart-phones and video blogging. In these next few posts, I’ll be musing on what exactly that might mean, but for starters lets consider this: 100 years from now, the idea of video art as a self-taught, self-producing medium will be the norm. With any luck, this “Biennial of Creative Video” will look less like an attempt to expand curatorial practice to keep pace with online video publishing and more like a recognition of something quite non-controversial, which is this:

  • Every society uses the maximum level of technology available to it to make art, and
  • Any gate-keeping system in play for an art form fails the instant the production and consumption mechanisms reach a critical mass of availability.

If you can write, film, edit, and publish a piece of video art to an audience of millions, all for the cost of a cheap digital camera, a laptop computer and a coffee in an Internet-equipped café, then you have a model for media authorship not only for the 21st century, but for the foreseeable future.

So we should get used to it.

Comments
...
1.John Watson
August 21, 2010 3:30 PM
I have the MFA and have been spending the last 3 years trying hard not to be furious that none of this was even hinted at during my term at school. Everything I'm doing in video now is almost completely self-taught.

* Every society uses the maximum level of technology available to it to make art, and
* Any gate-keeping system in play for an art form fails the instant the production and consumption mechanisms reach a critical mass of availability.

These comments are at once a big Doh!!!! and genius in the sense that a great many of the art school types don't recognize them. Looking forward to reading more of your writing here!
...
2.Violet R
July 28, 2010 2:44 AM
I too am self-taught and think it is very liberating.
There is a degree of creative form in all aspects of life. Using this media is open to many more individuals. And allowing a mass audience to see and understand the form and enjoy the endeavors of individuals on a worldwide basis is a truly
democratic idea.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.
Add Comment


busy