Pluralist Nirvana

Jeff Jarvis writes a blog called Buzz Machine that deals with blogging and the state of media practices. Like most bloggers, I am fascinated to watch the way the blogging phenom continues to propagate, morph and constellate. Jarvis’ blog is a good place to start if you want a catalog of opinions on where some informed types think this is headed and how blogging is interacting with other expressive forms.

This excerpt from Buzz Machine is by Andras Szanto (who teaches at CUNY in the journalism school):

The blogsphere today is more or less where the arts were circa 1975. It’s a realm of new opportunities, naïve expectations, and faux democracy. It’s smack in the middle of that euphoric moment that every innovative movement goes through before it makes its own peace with the status quo. Back in the seventies, it seemed everything was possible in the art world. Anything could be art and “everyone an artist,” as Beuys proclaimed.

But a funny thing happened on the way to this pluralist nirvana. Three decades later we are seeing an unprecedented institutionalization and commercialization of art. The entry fee into a successful art career is a $60,000 MFA. And while laissez-faire rules, aesthetically speaking, who can doubt that the artists being seen and heard are the ones who have the muscle of major galleries, presenting institutions, and distribution companies behind them. From the cloud of unbounded opportunity has emerged a new ironclad structure, no less selective and, in its own way, constraining than what had come before. To some degree, the very scale and openness of postmodern culture have mandated these new filters and hierarchies. And so it will go with the blogsphere. When the smoke clears, we will be back to listening and trusting a finite number of voices. We will depend on them, and we won’t have time for many more.

In the interest of full disclosure, Jarvis did not agree with Szanto’s assertions. His response to this excerpt was, “I’ll disagree. He assumes that there is still a scarcity of gallery walls. No, there’ll only be a scarcity of money.”

As always, it depends on your point of view. From where I sit, an oversupply of gallery walls is not the problem. (Could it ever be?)

Empty Space, By Anne Hamilton

3 Replies to “Pluralist Nirvana”

  1. Elatia Harris says:

    He’s not looking too far into the future, is he? Many blogs are already seen as quotable and mainstream. When this first began to happen, lots of mainstream media organs started adding blogs — kind of like when all the 40+ year-olds started wearing mini-skirts in the late ’60s, just not to look like mastodons. I think it’s a lot more interesting to look at the tension between the blogosphere and mainstream media to see how they are fun-house mirror images of each other…but!…the thing to watch is how the search engines morph.

  2. Mastodons! Excellent image E.

    There are so many themes playing out in this space right now–like the need and methods of vetting, reliability quotients, what makes (and preserves) an A-list blog, the publishability of blogger content (case in point, BibliOdyssey), the communities and social networks that emerge and morph around a blog or gaggle of blogsters, the value-added possibilities. among others. I’m just glad to have a spot in the arena while this expression fest (online equivalent of Burning Man?) is taking on a life (or many lives) of its own.

  3. mmmh!
    to rectify Andras Szanto:
    for having even more than an MFA i can testify that degrees are no entry fee to success. They don’t even guaranty a good teaching position.
    As a matter of fact, the most successful artists i know have no art degree but an enormous talent for business…

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: