Arts Blogger Challenge | Where is the Cultural Capital of America?

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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Screen shot from the site, Envisioning Technology (ET), which led by emerging technology strategist, Michell Zappa

Please click on the image above to visit Envisioning Technology

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.

10 responses to “Arts Blogger Challenge | Where is the Cultural Capital of America?”

  1. Wow…that blew my mind! That’s the power and influence of the writer. The smart ones shape our history and help heal our psyches by swiftly obliterating false notions or ingratiating concepts of who or what owns culture…with a stroke of a pen! (But of course, in this case it’s probably a keyboard on a laptop or PDA, etc.)

    The die is set. My agenda consists of having to learn how to communicate through all the social media sites. I’ve signed up with them but still yet don’t even know what or how to post anything on ‘the wall’. I’ll catch up though, i can still count on my noodle to carry me through.

    Not meaning to be facetious, but I wondered if Mr. Zappa is related to Frank and Moon Unit.
    After all, they’re artists, too!

    I must get back to that graph because there’s a lot of fascinating information and things to learn there; although it seems it’s all in the making already.

    For example, the invisible cloak. If I understand it correctly, we will be mimicking the action of a certain squid that when frightened or agitated, it miraculously takes on the look of it’s surroundings.

    A lot of efficiency, too. The first building, I think, using the photovoltaic solar panels is in Brisbane. I regret having forgotten the designer’s name.

    It’s wonderful how ET makes the graph above. It’s super-technical without being boring.

    1. You are too kind.

      Regarding social media, do what you can. Do what is comfortable. In this digitally laden age, learning every single thing about social media is not possible but you knew that. Honestly, I think it’s fantastic that you’re finding the virtual spots that please and incite dialogue, discourse, and inquiry. I’m definitely lucky to have you supporting me. Again, thank YOU so much!

  2. I took another peek at the above master agenda, and (oh, no!) here’s 2 more cents.

    (By the way, this might be a conservative yet elegant forecast. Given the fact that George’s Moore’s stupefying prediction of the steep, exponential growth of transistor, applies to this as well. Then, the whole spectrum of these technologies is just around the corner.)

    REMOTE PRESENCE–already proven in laboratory between amoeba to amoeba, and plant to human, and human to plant, and vice-versa.

    What I find of particular promise and virtue is the manufacturing of SYNTHETIC BLOOD, of which we can sum up a plethora of benefits.

    Of equal inspiration is ROBOTIC SURGERY (we’ve come a long way since the first painless surgery in Massachusetts General Hospital).

    The POWERED EXOSKELETON is where I think technology is well-worth spent, so to speak- restoring freedom of movement, turning despondency to health and joy., esp. putting to end the haunting of ‘phantom limbs’.

    Manufacturing of METAMATERIALS is not too difficult to understand, given the successful attempts of scientists to create an amoeba from water and electricity, in much the same way as the Halodran (I don’t know if I spelled that right) splits atoms, but the former only had to use a goldfish bowl and simulated lightning.

    REPUTATION ECONOMY reminds me of the Garden of Eden (sorry I’m not familiar with the other two books he mentioned, my loss). They had everything for the taking, but greed and deception disqualified them for that privilege.

    TELEPRESENCE, and IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL TECHNOLOGY reminds me of a young psychologist who experimented with a camera; who, when the subject was viewing it, could have sworn he was someplace else, instead of where he felt or perceived he was. Additionally, as was mentioned above, laboratory experiments have proved through vast distances instantaneous communication between man and plant, plant and plant, amoeba to amoeba, and vice-versa.

    With STEM CELL TREATMENTS we’ll have, among other things, less black marketing of donor organs.

    As for ANTI-AGING drugs, ‘indefinite’ is a key word.

    1. Definitely enjoyed your forecast of the future. The first thing that comes to mind is checking out the art work of Laura Splan. You would really like her. Also, Bespoke Innovations and 3D printing technology. Crazy (in a great way) but cool stuff. I think Immersive Virtual Technology is exciting and reminds me of the Being Human 2012 Conference I went to over the weekend. Look for that post. I have SO much to say about that event. It was great and hoping you enjoy that piece when I get around to posting it. Hopefully, tonight or tomorrow morning. 🙂

  3. Of course, I agree with you. San Francisco is definitely a contender – especially if you’re looking for the perfect location that fuses art and technology. With Silicon Valley around the corner, SF is the place to be!

    Again, you make a great point in that you can’t really pinpoint one cultural center. In the age of globalization and technology, art centers are everywhere. At the same time, I do think San Francisco does provide a unique environment for innovative art/cultural production.

    Nice post:)

    1. Thanks so much, Joanne! 🙂

      It’s too easy to keep claiming New York City as THE cultural capital of the US. I love the city. Absolutely love NYC BUT what concerns me, obviously, is more of the idea of a cultural capital versus the physical existence of one. I know you get what I’m trying to say. Thanks again for the comment!!

  4. It’s true– technology is leveling the cultural capitals and raking them evenly across the globe. Another way this is working that you hadn’t mentioned is in the marketplace. Artists can now show and sell their work online, and often do. Etsy, Big Cartel, WordPress, Paypal, Square, Dwolla and more websites and apps are making this possible everyday. Although I still feel it’s easier to build a base from a large urban cultural center, one could arguably do it from anywhere these days.

    1. Very true, Valerie! Thanks so much for bringing that into the conversation. Actual capital and free enterprise is certainly a part of the discussion. With the ease of online shopping and applications that make commerce incredibly easy, this facet of consumerism definitely adds to a virtual culture capital.

  5. and you share – “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.”

    bottom line … fabulous thoughts and perspective from you. thank you for sharing this!

    and as usual, my synapses are firing – what came to mind as i read your post (and likely will continue to ponder) is wondering about the “language” that exists in each of those worlds (arts, technology, social media) and of course, then wondering about the language that is created at the intersections. where language is part of a cultural, so exciting to experience the cultural shift that is evolving (… and that shift that is (re)shaping how we communicate, how we share our values, and perhaps how we continue to create.) virtual indeed.

    by the way, this made me revisit one of your other articles –

    1. Thanks so much, Shirley. I am definitely coming from a point of view where I’m envisioning ‘cultural capital’ as an idea versus a physical place. There are so many ways to define capital (i.e., as an asset, physical place, etc.). I wanted to take an initial stab at it and happy to see the post has sparked some great dialogue and interesting points not included in the post (both here and on FB). This is exactly what I love to see. The differing opinions and issues being raised. True discourse happening in the blogosphere excites me. Thanks again for always participating in the conversation. I very much appreciate it. 🙂

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