Arts Blogger Challenge Question:
New York has long been considered the cultural capital of America. Is it still? If not, where?
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The San Francisco Bay Area can easily serve as a contender. Its moniker as the Golden State takes on an entirely different meaning when it comes to both monetary and cultural capital. But New York City boasts of a million more opportunities for those interested in corporate life or a fruitful creative existence. The long withstanding tribal aspect of the New York City art community is, virtually and literally, incomparable. Quite honestly, I don’t believe a culture capital exists in America. Period. Globalization eradicates this concept of one physical place serving as the lone beacon for cultural sustenance. Being a San Francisco native, I was almost fooled into thinking and arguing the point that my home state and city would be the newest place for culture consumption. Then, I started to realize something, much of what we collectively do occurs on screens and mobile devices. Silicon Valley is a great example of this. The name alone refers to physical stretch of the Bay Area landscape where innovation occurs but it’s only a name, a signifier. Bottom line: The cultural capital of America is not a physical place. It is a virtual place where people take part and realize ideas at the intersections of arts and technology and social media, which occur all over the world.
From forums to blogs to open source systems such as Processing, one of the clear manifestations of arts and technology occurs through a constant exchange of programming language on a global scale. Recently, The Creators Project organized an arts and technology festival in San Francisco showcasing the work of artist-technologists based in the Bay Area. The highlight of the weekend was sitting in on artist talk and drawing workshop led by UCLA professor Casey Reas, co-creator of Processing. His talk included a brief history of artists that, similarly to Reas, took language and created art through innovation and unorthodox methods. The drawing workshop was especially eye-opening. The exercises included a set of instructions that asked the participants to draw what they read (totally reminded me of Sol LeWitt whom Reas mentioned during his artist talk AND John Balderssari’s teaching methods). The hybrid artist-technologist innovates and affects change at a rapid rate. With open source programming playing an integral role into the way people are using tools of technology for function, critical thinking, and art creation, virtual spaces like github and Processing forums serve as the new cultural capitals.
If arts and technology serves as the intersection of a culture capital, social media is the seemingly colossal skyscraper where rapid information exchange occurs. Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, Google+, and the like all allow for copious information and data consumption. It is where we find out about our world (whether we like it or not). People are more likely to find out about a high magnitude earthquake (or a friend’s bagel preferences) than on syndicated news channels and sites. Social media culls, most if not, all the information that interests us. The need to know has quite the narcotic effect. Nevertheless, it’s one of the, if not the primary, ways we stay connected. Again, there is no one place where a cultural capital exists. Although places like New York and San Francisco captivate the minds and hearts of many business folks, entrepreneurs, and creative types, it becomes clear that the existence of a physical culture capital is diminishing with our lives driven so heavily by what we witness on screens and what is, literally, at our fingertips.
Please visit the 2012 Great Arts Blogger Challenge and vote for ‘Dorothy Santos’ here.