Art and the Internet


Dinner conversation is brisk and the food beggars description.

Our hosts remind us that cell phones are not allowed at Blue Mountain Center.  This is a place free of distractions, designed so that artists, writers, and musicians can spend their time making their art.  For the same reason there is no TV and no Wi Fi.  We can go down to the basement — if we MUST — to read the email.  Later in the evening, the basement feels like it is filled with a bunch of nervous smokers who just gotta have it.

And that is moi.  I just gotta have it.  I feel like an addict in withdrawal.  Well, at least a caffeine headache.

After chewing over the negatives of the internet I am reminded of a visiting artist/instructor we had at SAIC back in the stone ages when personal computers were in their infancy.  He came to our seminar umbilically connected by earphones to a device on his belt through which he monitored everything.  I disliked him immediately.

But he had this point to make:  Computers are here, they are not going away.  Artists must add this new tool to their kit and help shape the path that computers will take.  If only linear thinkers invent for the computer the future of our culture will be very sad indeed – ads and bombs and ads and drivel and ads.

Well, at that point no one had figured out the commercial angle yet.  But substitute the word “Internet” for “Computer”, and I believe the same argument applies.  The blogs and the social networking got off to a vapid start, but arts must and are taking hold of these potentially powerful tools to make art which can be made in no other way.  I think of the satirical political animations of Mark Fiore and internet art sites like 99Rooms.  (See more internet art at digitalartsclub.com.)  The world moves, and artists must move with it or become irrelevant .

And, like my sweety, Steve Card, says, It ain’t the instrument, it’s the player of that instrument.  It’s the tune – not the tool – that is important.  And artists as much as anybody must learn the control of their tools.

After dinner, the weather begins to break.  BMC has arranged for a splendid light show over the lake.

lightening over the Adirondacks
Lightening over Blue Mountain Center

I opened up the camera and took 20 -30 second exposures.

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