The advent of the Internet as a miraculous way of sharing open-source materials and content has paved the way for unprecedented innovation in our society. Now, more than ever, information and ideas are able to travel at the speed of light. This has allowed for everything from piracy to Kickstarter to find a place in the new web of ethics the Internet strings up (excuse the pun).
But one of the most interesting new trends from an artistic perspective has been the rise of emergent arts. Emergent art forms are loosely defined as independent art that comes from users and consumers who are empowered to give their own contributions to the art world. A young girl who picks up a camera for photography, a high school disc jockey who mixes his own sounds, and a professional parkour performer who uploads to Vimeo are all emergent artists.
Some artists are paid by record labels and advertisers to produce dictated content and meet prescribed tastes. They rely on demographic-target marketing and social psychology to determine how to mold art to raise the most revenue. While effective at making money, this approach stifles creativity by continually recycling the same trends and fads. Something that goes out of style for a season will come back as “vintage” or “retro,” and the same pool of films will get reboots, sequels, and “reimaginings.” A commercialized art market suppresses truly innovative content to rest on the laurels of its approved moneymakers.
This is why emergent art is so dynamic and powerful. It gives the average person with access to basic resources the chance to challenge the establishment. When an ordinary person with a camera can rise to fame on YouTube, there is authentically an American dream being realized. The spirit and motto of capitalism is that anyone can succeed in a free market. But, a free market demands the freedom to produce, innovate and influence. When we as common people are bullied by moneyed interests and immovable corporate blocks, it becomes impossible to stand on our own feet. Emergent art forms are protecting our creative freedoms, our capitalist values, and our inherent desires to move ahead with our dreams.
In the weeks ahead, this article series will explore traditional genres and forms of art that are getting an Emergent Overhaul at the hands of innovative young artists. I hope you’ll join me in learning how art as we know it will never be the same, all because of our generation’s unprecedented access to emergent technologies.