Software, Globalization and Political Action

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The “Suspicious” Democratization of Art

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    In retrospect, the history of art suggests its makers have been constrained by its consumers. Leonardo da Vinci’s genius was reserved in his own time for warfare among his patrons; most of his journals have plans for military applications. Many Dutch masters of painting increased production as their work became commodities during their nation’s trade boom. However, where art was overtly political in these instances (rare at that) it was almost never controversial. The rapid improvement of digital image processing technology provided artists with the ability to share a product created, refined, and distributed entirely by one person. Meanwhile, the rapid development of data structures capable of storing and analyzing images has added to possibility of using nearly any extant material in art or expression. So two things came together: access to the means of producing art and a mass of material to make it with. Has this fed the “inherent suspicion” that Jeremijenko claimed is behind the controversy of using “material evidence” in art: the public idea that nearly anything, including their own private lives, can be the subject of nearly anyone’s art?

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