by Dana Vachon, Jeffrey Schnapp and Tim Sheridan
Media theorist Marshall McLuhan famously envisioned a cultural “global village,” a collective identity shaped by the media we share. To a remarkable extent he foresaw how social media would change the game of culture, putting the power of creation in more hands than ever before, and this change in itself would be the new culture. Now that that future has arrived, have the inherent limitations and transitory nature of YouTube videos and Facebook postings made the new aesthetic canvas so small that no great work could emerge – like a (Rebecca) Black hole collapsing in on itself? While McLuhan insisted that the value of the content itself wasn’t as important as the channel that served it, in a quick-hit landscape where the memes of “Charlie Bit My Finger” and “Friday” are major touchstones, it’s fair to ask whether the changes in media have raised mediocrity and banality to an art form. So is the new social culture a vital democracy or decomposing exquisite corpse?
9th–13th March 2012