Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Can Art be Taught to the Facebook Generation?

Image borrowed from Merit Group.

I recently came across a discussion occurring on Saatchi Gallery Online, which posits the question: can art be taught to the facebook generation?

This sent me on a journey of thought after which, when I awoke from my revere, I posed the same question to an art critic friend of mine. He said [seeing as most of my questions to him tended to be rhetorical, he would cut to the chase and ask me what I thought].

I observed:
Instead of answering immediately, let me counter this with two more questions. "Can Art be taught to the video game generation? Can Art be taught to the TV generation?" Maybe history has already answered our question. In as much as Art can be taught, it can be taught to the facebook generation. Because Art is about shared human experience, like any generation they will include their own experiences. Most of these will be in essence the same as human experience has for hundreds of thousands of years, but some will be different. So, their art may take a different form than previous generations, but will really be derivative of all forms that have come before.

He said then, that if they are derivative, then, no they cannot be taught Art because Art is that intangible addition to perception, it is new and fresh. Once it becomes a mimesis it is no longer Art. I had certainly heard this point of view before and pointed out that his point of view certainly wasn't fresh. Further, I added that if a man has no knowledge of the wheel, and he invents the wheel completely of his own inspiration, is this man less clever than the first who invented the wheel?

"No, but it makes him less interesting to those who already know of the wheel, and his invention is useless." parried the critic.

"Actually, it's the contrary." I replied. " It makes him more interesting and useful because it sheds light on the inventive process. Have you had the opportunity to meet the first person to invent the wheel?"

I would add now that most of the modes of Art making have been forgotten our predecessors and are unknown to most of my generation and the facebook generation. Perhaps the access to knowledge and the networking power of this new generation will enable them to re-discover these lost forms. Perhaps they will even build on them. For what we have now is the ability to assess all the modes before and produce new alloys from the elements of history.


Hannah said...

I think this is a great point. I definitely agree with you in that the "facebook generation" will produce art that will take on new forms and relate to what they are surrounded by.
It will be interesting to see how the internet brings out the lost art forms and predecessors!

Andrew said...

This post took an entirely different path than I expected, based on the title. The references the Facebook Generation, Video Game Generation, and TV Generation made me expect the focus was going to be on short attention spans and instant gratification.

Arguably the TV generation was a generation ago. MTV has been around for nearly 20 years.

I believe video games and animation are what sparks an interest in studying studio art for many in the Facebook Generation.

New York City said...

Thanks for the comments. Yes, certainly, "lack of attention span" is a common argument, but it seemed obvious. To me, what is more interesting is how the same argument has arisen each time there is a progression of technology.

I'm sure when the press was invented in Gutenberg, some monks were sitting around saying "This printed book generation takes books for granted. They could never learn anything from them because they only read a book once!"