Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Yasmin_discussions: 140 characters in search of Art

Ricardo Mbarkho: "With the realm of the Information and Communication techno-sphere, assembled entities are emerging: human identities, social behaviors, languages, devices …Giving this vibrant environment, what are the art requirements and needs to enhance creativity and innovation?"
I'm hoping that Art with a capital 'A' will soon realize its own irrelevance and creep off to some unwired corner and die a timely death. I think the revolution in communication that is going on as a result of online social networking is far in advance of anything even the latest in traditional Art can offer. For me Art has irrevocably dated itself. Obviously I'm going to have to try and explain what I mean by this.
 Five days ago I had to defend the use of an exclamation mark in an essay called Regarding the South…from the South for the catalogue of an art exhibit in Toronto that opens in May called South-South: Interruptions and Encounter (Justine Barnicke Gallery, U of T). The copy-editor who challenged my desire to exclaim was no doubt a Northern soul; Or a Southern one resident in the cold for too long. Who knows? I replied testily denying him/her the right to remove it. This morning I was delighted to find that someone completely unrelated to this discussion/dispute had tweeted the following link:
The article titled The joy of exclamation marks!  was by Stuart Jeffries of The (UK) Guardian and appeared today, Wednesday 29 April . It talks about the renaissance the exclamation mark is having in the internet age. Delightedly I tweeted and updated my status on Facebook saying: bullet! bullet! bullet! barely a week ago i had to defend my use of an exclamation mark to a Northern editor in an essay called Regarding the South...from the South. What better ammo could i have asked for than this!
The joy of exclamation marks!  chronicles the trajectory of this punctuation device and searches for reasons for its current resurgence. It concludes that technological advances have enabled new modes of communication that celebrate brevity and creative manipulation of 140 characters for instance. In pruning communication down to the bare essentials devices the tone of what was being said became inscrutable and prone to misinterpretation. Brevity could be interpreted as terseness or indifference when that was not the case and the use of the humble exclamation mark could rectify this by communicating enthusiasm, friendliness and warmth. It is an economical device but a fundamentally friendly one except when used ironically or sarcastically.
The article contrasts the brevity of postmodern communication with the terse telegram of yesteryear, a mode of communication used to transmit information urgently without regard to its affect. It relates the following hilarious story about French writer Victor Hugo who once sent a telegram to his publisher. "He wanted to know how his new book was doing. His telegram read: "?"; the publisher's reply: "!". The exclamation mark, you see, meant Hugo's book was doing well. The publisher could have deployed sentences of Proustian length to explain the novel's success among the target demographic of 18- to 35-year-old Parisians, but he saved a few centimes by cutting to the chase."
So to cut to the chase perhaps one of the new demands we should make of Art, if we still want it around, is that it deploy maximum creativity with the bare essentials, which is what most people in the world have to work with. RIP Art!

Annie Paul


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