"Art and social media" -- this topic is all anyone wants to talk about these days. The discussion extends from the staid -- the National Endowment for the Arts released a report titled "Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation" -- to more spicy ruminations on what "social media art" offers as a new category, as in the artist An Xiao’s recent three-part series for Hyperallergic.
On the one hand, this faddish obsession with "social media" is understandable. The Facebook Corp. has begun to wrap its fingers around every other aspect of life, so it is clearly logical to ask what effects social media might have on art-making. But at the same time, I find the chatter somehow sad, as if visual art’s power to inspire passion among a larger audience is so attenuated that it has to throw itself on whatever trendy thing is out there, to win some reflected glory for itself.
So, the question for me is this: Is there any more interesting way to think about the topic than the loose and impressionistic manner that it is currently framed? Maybe it’s worth noting that, of all the buzzwords of the present-day lexicon, "social media" is perhaps the only one that is more vaguely defined than "art." Let’s begin, then, by clarifying terms to see if we can get to a more interesting place.
Hi Tom, and all
First off, the purpose of Required Reading is to point to compelling articles relevant to new media. We're not always endorsing them 100%, but also often sharing them with Rhiz readers for the purpose of discussion. (Its a column Rhizome has been running for 2 years.) I thought Davis' article was worth inclusion because its an attempt at defining the field, and its a proposition: The first five sections draw lines between what Davis describes as social media art and other forms of new media. But in his final section, he closes his analysis with some self-criticism: "It’s not a frame to think within. It’s a box that needs to be escaped."
With that in mind, Salas makes a good point about it including traditional definitions of art, and the absence of participatory art, including contemporary practitioners like Miranda July and Harold Fletcher. In my opinion, I appreciate a non media art critic calling for a deeper and broader research of social media artwork - but I agree, to some extent, that an attempt to form definitions at a point of emergence can prove to be problematic, and boxes art in inappropriate ways.
Thanks for writing.
Again, a great initial resource is the Rhizome list of New Media Programs. We have programs listed and linked in the States and Abroad. I think there is a good school in the south of France. If I find the link I'll post here.
Definitely check the New Media program list with Rhizome first. I'm in the MFA program at RISD right now and can say that it offers a lot of flexibility and resources to students. As a note, we're in the middle of an international search for a new department head which should end at the end of this academic year. Feel free to email me if you have any extra questions. The programs website is here: http://dm.risd.edu
You can also cruise this mega list of national new media programs:
It's not exclusively MFA but it's a good starting point for broader research on schools.
I know SVA just started an Interdisciplinary MFA program that might be worth checking out:
I've had a few friends who have gone to ITP too that had a good experience. The RISD program is geared more toward Fine Art and you can take courses at Brown - ITP is more technically focused. At least that's my understanding.