I’ve been rereading Ways of Seeing by John Berger (chapter one borrows heavily from Walter Benjamin), and wonder at how disingenuous we are, in that we think of technology as being this new change agent that is disrupting our lives. In his chapter on Oil Painting, Berger talks about how oil paintings reduced everything to the “equality of objects”, hence making everything “exchangeable”. Lets see some paintings of paintings from 1500’s Europe.
Without going into the art history (http://waysofseeingwaysofseeing.com/ways-of-seeing-john-berger-5.7.pdf) of these paintings, suffice to say that these European collectors were big on showing off, and they didn’t have enough space to display all their collections.
In modern terms, isn’t this what is happening with the galleries in our smart phones? Aren’t we reducing our lives down to the sharing of images, most of which are crap. Isn’t sharing the picture the new norm, and with emoji’s haven’t we reduced our reactions to simple short-forms?
The only difference, and I suppose this is a new one in art, is that the art created on the mobile phone is truly democratic (plebian? awami?) and the new hot sharing super stars are not from the elite class, or maybe they form another elite class in themselves (Kardashians etc)… But, the filters in all the apps (instagram etc) where images are created, make direct reference to previous forms of analog photography and painting techniques. So, even though we think we are creating a new medium, we are always paying homage to the old. Art imitates life, imitates art…
Add-on: Time magazine is referring to this in this article, which talks about whats happening with American teenage girls.