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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Four years and the fall of art

    When I started college four years ago, Twitter was a mere two months old, “”SexyBack”” was the premier club anthem and Lindsay Lohan had a viable career.

    How things have changed.

    We are living in an age when U.S. senators tweet during presidential addresses and only three movies that are not remakes or adaptations have reached the number-one spot this year in the nationwide box office. 

    Fall Out Boy, one of the most popular music groups of the past four years, is on an indefinite hiatus. The most successful country duo of all time, Brooks & Dunn, hung up their spurs this spring. Michael Jackson has been dead for nearly a year.

    In only four years, the world of popular art has changed so much that we don’t know how we got here. Four years ago, Judd Apatow was a name few registered. Now he basically owns mainstream comedy. 

    In the past four years, we’ve elected our first black president and allowed Tucker Max to make a movie. We are capable of anything. It’s been a roller coaster for the past four years and the only thing that’s stayed the same is that we need art. We can’t survive without it.

    Our art sure looks different, though.

    We are becoming a culture that expresses itself in 140 characters or through a list of our favorite activities on a mini feed. We can vlog an entire day-in-the-life and upload it onto the Internet where others can subscribe to our channel and watch our day. 

    According to Alexa Internet, the Internet’s primary trafficking engine, Facebook is the number two most visited website after Google. YouTube is number three. Twitter is 12.

    These are our museums. These are our gallerias. And we are all exhibits.

    Facebook and Twitter are not about broadcasting ourselves. They are not about being social, because we have a hundred other ways to interact with others. They are about creating the idealized snapshot of our lives, one where we control exactly what others see. They are self-portraits in binary.

    YouTube is the same thing. It’s synthetic — we can reduce red-eye or overdub something we said improperly — and completely staged. It’s photography in realtime or a staged manifesto with crosscuts.

    All three are the newest forms of modern art.

    After all, what is art besides a physical manifestation of our sentiments? Edvard Munch’s “”The Scream”” and Geoffrey Chaucer’s “”The Canterbury Tales”” are each man’s thoughts laid out on a disposable medium. Their abstract nature or fictional narrative does little to change their purpose: They are born of their creator’s mind to represent their potential and given to the world to examine.

    What if Munch could have tweeted “”Srsly having existential crisis rite now””? Or if Chaucer’s vlog followed him around as he criticized British society alongside a cast of pilgrims? What would have come of such creations?

    Simple answer: They wouldn’t be discussed today. I wouldn’t be name-dropping them in this column or studying them in a classroom.

    So what does our art say about us? Frankly, it says we’re simple. In our age of instant information, we’ve created insta-art. With the snap of our fingers, we create complete representations of ourselves. Our thoughts and creations flood the Internet, as we seek a sense of actualization through our unique admissions. 

    But unlike Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait, our Facebook page will never be the topic of discussion. Ever. 

    Our art is nothing more than howls for attention. We just don’t paint frescoes anymore and let others search our work for deep answers. We’d rather fill our time with Facebook hyperlinks and Tweetathons. We fit our personality into “”Likes and Interests.”” We think that somehow creates a composite sketch of our time on this planet. 

    We think people actually give a damn. 

    It took Michelangelo four years of lying on his back to paint the Sistine Chapel. He painted a masterpiece in the time it took my generation to voluntarily stifle its creativity.

    Seniors, think back to the hours you spent on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube during your time in school. Guess the number of hours you wasted with those websites. Now imagine that you put all of that time into pursuing an artistic goal.

    How much could you have made? Could you have painted a chapel? A wall? A cabinet? A mural? A single sketch? 

    I challenge you to leave college and create something — anything. 

    Four years ago, “”The Scream”” was recovered in a police raid in Oslo after it had been stolen and missing for two years. It’s time we recover our desire to create.

    Four years is just too damn long.

     

    — Zachary Smith is a psychology senior. He spent his time at the UA playing with dogs that weren’t his and stressing out about the most attractive length of facial hair. Reach him at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu. 

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