Saturday, April 25, 2009


Good morning Yasminers and apologies for having been absent for much of this discussion. Unexpected exigencies were monopolizing all my creative energy and it has been difficult to find the focus necessary to make meaningful contributions to this conversation.

I would like to respond to Veroniki's question about new media and the forms of communication it enables: If so, "who", is sending the "message" to "whom" and for "what purpose"?

There is justifiably much suspicion around new media and whether or not it is merely another tool of capitalism. But we speak as if the traditional media we all depend on so much isn't the consummate vehicle for capitalism it is. TV, print media, radio—all of these bombard us with advertising as the cost for obtaining the information we need to sustain our so-called democracies and our 'livities'.

Certainly in this part of the world new media hasn't been infiltrated by mass advertising yet. And so the internet and particularly social media such as Facebook are facilitating conversations between groups of people who were not talking to each other before. For instance, it is bringing together members of the Jamaican/Caribbean diaspora and people on the ground, so to speak, in conversations that need to happen, relationships that need to develop to pull these countries out of their crises and regenerate the body politic.

The very way politics works is now being affected by the ability of many more citizens/netizens to demand answers, contradict lies, and indicate their preferences clearly and virtually without fear. Just this morning a bunch of us were talking on Facebook to the Opposition Minister of Finance on the budget presentation made yday by his govt counterpart and vigorously challenging his version of things. Another conversation was in response to a radio programme asking if people spend too much time on Fbook: as one person responded "Facebook allows us to say it as it is" and not have to depend on traditional media for a highly censored view of things.

I think art and artworks have to develop out of all this ferment in an organic way. I am not yet aware of any major artwork I can call attention to or cite. Perhaps the artworks are these unprecedented conversations? The German artist Beuys talked about the interaction between people as creating 'social sculptures'. Can we not think about these new conversations as new and necessary forms of 'social sculpture'? And don't we also have to ditch the idea of the artist as sole and individual author? The death of the author was announced several decades ago, prematurely it seems, for we still cling relentlessly to the idea.

Annie Paul

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