The Digital Dialog || Open Thread
In response to the question raised in yesterday's post about regionalism (i.e., Could there be such a thing as conceptual regionalism?), self-declared "Generic Artist" (who lives in self-declared "Quaintsville" [i.e., no where near a major arts center]) suggested:
Maybe a long time ago people from Quaintsville were less informed on current conceptual trends, but that's certainly not the case now. You can be typing away in Elk River Idaho, working on your MFA thesis from a top conceptual University via correspondence. Most people have access to all of the same information.
To assume that an artist is less involved in progressive dialogue simply because they're in Quaintsville is highly dismissive. Everyone is on Facebook. Everyone Tweets. Everyone blogs. We all know what color tie Jerry Saltz wore to the last opening. Quaintsvillagers have their finger on the pulse.
And while I certainly agree that the Internet has facilitated a much wider form of connection than we've ever had in human history, the depth of that connection remains in question, in my humble opinion.
Indeed, in a great op-ed in the Times a few days back, Sherry Turkle (a psychologist, professor at M.I.T., and the author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other”) argues that while technology has permitted us to connect, it has also essentially killed conversation:
Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.
We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.
Connecting in sips may work for gathering discrete bits of information or for saying, “I am thinking about you.” Or even for saying, “I love you.” But connecting in sips doesn’t work as well when it comes to understanding and knowing one another. In conversation we tend to one another. (The word itself is kinetic; it’s derived from words that mean to move, together.) We can attend to tone and nuance. In conversation, we are called upon to see things from another’s point of view.
FACE-TO-FACE conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience. When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits. As we ramp up the volume and velocity of online connections, we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions; we dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters. It is as though we have all put ourselves on cable news. Shakespeare might have said, “We are consum’d with that which we were nourish’d by.”All of which both rings true to me and makes me question the value of the so-called digital dialog, particularly as it feeds a conceptual art practice.
Consider this an open thread on the value (or limits) of the "digital dialog."