It seems as though we have been arguing the definition of art and beauty since the beginning of time. The definition was created by those with power and money. In today’s world, the common person has most influential power of defining what is art than ever before. As Bejamin suggests, our previous standards of how to measure beauty in the arts has changed now that technology overpowers traditional arts. Do we still live by the definition and understanding of the arts divided between what Marx calls a classless society and an elite society? If we have changed in our sharing of informational power, case and point, Wikipedia, than where does digital art come into play? Will the “fine art” of the digital landscape remain among the wealthy or will it be solely based on accessibility? Maybe, the digital divide will separate the notion of what is art and or what will be considered “genius.”
In the future, it is possible that the most respected and expensive art will be those that are impossible to reproduce. I know you’re thinking but what famous piece of art hasn’t been reproduced? “Even the most perfect reproduction of work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be” (Bejamin). This leads me to believe that the most rare and valued art in the future will be a live performance. It will be the artist in the making that will be impossible to recreate. This would also establish ownership and authenticity.
During The Flynn’s Innovation Lab we often discuss the digital world stealing away a live audience. We concluded that the live performance is in fact what offers the “aura” feeling. In this case, the “aura” only being able to exist in that moment of time and space. Bejamin later elaborates on how the artistic performance if captured by film is altered through its lends, which changes the material of the performance itself. If authenticity only exists in the moment in time of its creation than would every digital representation thereafter never achieve its original quality? As photography surpassed lithography by speed perhaps virtual worlds have surpassed our speed in time today?
The digital world has opened the doors to individuality, personalization and influential power. With millions of voices sharing our definitions; how will the future reader be able to interpret? From Into the Electronic Millennium, Joseph Brodsky’s 1987 Nobel Prize acceptance speech stated, “ If art teaches anything…it is the privateness of the human condition. Being the most ancient as well as the most literal form of private enterprise, it fosters in a man, knowingly or unwittingly, a sense of his uniqueness, of individuality, of separateness – thus turning him from a social animal into an autonomous ‘I’” (Birkerts). Is this the “aura” that art makes us feel as individuals or is this the definition? If art is to be defined as a form of privateness than maybe its time for a new definition.
The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age of Reproduction by Walter Bejamin
From The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age Sven Birkerts Boston and London: Faber and Faber, 1994 Into the Electronic Millennuim