Monday, January 24, 2011

The Art of: A New Generation.

I’ve been reading Patti Smith’s book Just Kids and it's been making me think about our generation of artist versus hers. I think we often yearn for the type of nostalgic like reflection of that era we so often read about or watch in films.

I think many of us believe we’re going to be in those tight knit circles of amazing creators and have these epic beautiful experiences, but here’s why our generation is different and why we need to let go of that era and create our own sense of place.

1) No Money v. Fake Money

They knew what it was like to starve. They knew how far a dime went or what they could actually buy with their twice monthly paychecks. We, on the other hand, have the luxury of fake money—credit cards and student loans that let us rack of tremendous debt.

We never go hungry but we never get out of the hole.

Their freedom came from being broke, having nothing, but wanting it all. They were hungry, both literally and creatively. Our inspiration must come from a different place--perhaps our sense of alienation or lack of community, or want for traditions but not feeling connected to the traditions/holidays that already exist.

What can we do with our fake money that highlights our generation instead of trying to mirror another? How can we play with being "in the hole?"

2) Space

People flock to New York as if it’s the mecca of art—and maybe to many it is, but it’s not a run-down Chelsea Hotel where all the poor art kids live anymore. You can’t just walk into the Quixote and hang out with Lady Gaga or sit at the round table at Max’s Kansas City with Jay-Z and Beyonce'—all those places have been commodified anyway and they've lost their essence. The new scene must develop elsewhere. And in more places.

3) Population

Speaking of a new scene. In 1970 there were 3 billion people on the planet. Now there are 7. Seven billion people, that’s 7,000,000,000.000 ---actually I don’t even know it’s such a mega big number.

With such an increase in population we also increase the amount of people who want to do what we want to do, whatever it is that we’re wanting to do...and many people want the romantic life of an artist (though when one really examines it, it may not be as romantic as it appears).

But with this population growth we must create new spaces to develop and become a stronger more connected community both on and offline.

5) Technological Influence

Patti and company went to a mainstream film like maybe once a month, sure they watched and stared in each other’s art films, but they weren’t bombarded by an overflux of other art, just the art in their circle and what they were personally creating.

One of the biggest differences is of course, the internet, everything is at our fingertips, our disposal and it’s all disposable—we don’t chant off lines of Yeat's poetry or long passages of Oscar Wilde...we can look up any artist at any time but does it stick with us? Does it move us? We’re constantly being entertained, not trying to entertain ourselves.

6) Dedication

And because we’re bombarded by other people’s work, we don’t give ourselves as much time to work on our own. At least I often expect good stuff to come out at the very beginning, and I feel as if many of us rarely give ourselves room to make mistakes or just “go with the flow.”

And what about time to dream?

How do we fill the time in a day? How many people are online for most of it? And if that is where we are, how can we turn that around and make it actually beneficial to our work?

7) Commodity Culture

Even if we think we don’t, we think about it selling. We think about our audience and what our audience wants. It takes a lot of practice to strip away these ideas and do art for ones’ self. And it’s really a double-edged sword because if we want to be “successful” and not live off credit cards our whole lives we must be able to sell our work, but we don’t want the work to be confined to whatever is hot in the market. Because that isn’t art that’s just conforming to consumerism.


So naturally and obviously we're different than the people we have come to idolize. Of course, they can tell us how they maneuvered through that time period and in a way it can help, but it's time for us to create our own path, to develop what this can all mean, why we're all here and how we can strive for better communication and come together so our generation can have its own meaning, it's own poetic force.

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