We have met our ally, and he is us
by Eolake Stobblehouse
When I first touched a computer it was already the nineties, and still so it was several years before I started using one for serious.
I have always been interested in all kinds of art, in the broadest sense of the word, and even as a kid I experiment in thought and reality with all kinds of different media. For instance I toyed with the concept of making mosaics from the pebbles found on the beach. The natural variations of colors, value, and texture of the pebbles fascinated me, and seemed an invitation to utilize it for art. I worked much with pictures before I started writing or thinking about music, and anything that had color, lines, and texture, and could be manipulated seemed to me like an invitation to create. In my early teens I got hi-tech and took to photography like a pig to dirt.
It is so easy to be aesthetic. One thing working with photography has taught me, and a lesson that any draghtsman or painter should value more than gold, is Looking All The Time. I keep getting amazed (in my brighter moments) at how many "works of art" I find in our everyday surroundings. Beyond the more recognized ones like the sunrise and good architecture, there are all kinds of surprises. The pattern of cracks in the sidewalk I tread on. The arrangement of steel rods holding my umbrella open. The utilarian cases of black boxes that hold the traffic lights. Photography is a wonderful re-discovery of the world we have lived in all our lives.
Which is why I have renewed my resolve to get around to aquiring a digital camera. I am positive that this will revive and expand my zest for photography the way the word processor put my writing on wheels, and the way the Web made it achievable to get my art to the public on a daily basis. (Have you ever tried to produce art for months, using mucho monetos on promotion for an exhibition, only to see three family members and a friend turn up on opening night in hard frost? It sucks.)
In a way the digital camera is symptomatic of the way the computer and electronic networks make creation, production, and distribution easier for us. It's a camera that doesn't use film, so the cost of experimentation is practically zero. You just keep shooting, and deleting the less useful pictures as you go. The critical, expensive and time-consuming development of film and prints are done with. You just download the images to the computer where you wish to work with them. Some day that will even be done in real time as you work, probably over the Internet, wireless by satelite.
With the right setup, you can have an image appear on a computer on the other side of the planet seconds after you took it. And if you want to do editing or be creative with the image, that is possible on your affordable desktop machine or portable, where barriers to the possible are disappearing monthly under the inexorable caterpillar treads of processor speed and software sophistication.
As the Human-to-computer interface and interaction becomes more and more transparent (and we have hardly started on that road yet), we will think less less and less in terms of "using a computer" and more in terms of simply Creating or Communicating. We will effortlessly take bits and pieces of the universe around us, twirl it around to the beat of our personal tunes by help of our digital slaves, and sow it over the entire human culture as naturally as we breathe and eat.
And others will reap. One thing I see clearly budding and predict will flower abundantly throughout the next century is co-creation. The boundaries between different works of art, and between different creators, will become less and less important. We already see that most important new creations are manifested over many media. A new "cartoon" character is nobody if he does not appear on TV, in the cinema, on video, in computer games, in comics, in newspapers, on the web,...... you catch my drift. Obviously one man cannot create all that, and he seldom even create one aspect of it alone, like the comic book, for instance. Creators share "universes" in which their characters interact. Painters are inspired by music and vice versa (veni, vidi, vici), and artists of different media make works complementing each other's.
Much to the worry of some, "sampling" each others' work is also becoming easier. I think that less worry about copyright, and more concentrating on just creating is not only benificial, but inevitable.
It is not for nothing that "communication" comes from "to make common" (think about that for a while. I have been talking about communication for most of my life, and I didn't realize that until 5 minutes ago). To make something common you have to let go. You cannot let your children get lives of their own while still controlling the details of their lives.
Gone are soon the days of the paria van Gogh working in agonized solitude, being ridiculed by children and pitied by adults. Here instead will soon be a great global culture, innumerable parts of it joined in co-creation.
"Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore."
(Of course in this day and age, some of you are. Write me if so.)
(And for those less immersed in American pop culture than I, the above is a qoute from the movie The Wizard of Oz, describing a moment where you find yourself in a new and amazing place.)
(Which by the way is as good example as any of proto-co-creation, since I have never actually seen the film until today, but I still knew the music, the characters, the quotes, the mythology, .....)
Am I making sense?
Yours, Eolake Stobblehouse