If one could not already tell from my previous blog posts, I am a firm believer in the idea that things are what you make of them. As someone who was born in 1991, a time when computers and technology were really starting to advance, I have had my fair share of experiences with replicas of “art” rather than the real deal. I have seen pictures, videos, printed copies, recordings, and many other forms of reproduced work on a daily basis practically since I was born. From where I stand, I feel that the accessibility of art, although reproduced, has brought joy to my life. I use pictures and posters and tapestries to decorate my room, and I am glad to have access to these types of things so that I can surround myself with what I consider beautiful. Even though what I am using to decorate my walls are not necessarily originals, I still love to have them.
At the same time, however, this does not take away from the appreciation I have for live forms of art. If I want to be in the presence of live, original, organic art, I will go to it. That is the remarkable thing about living in this time. There are so many possibilities!
As an actor and a person majoring in theater arts, I have a very personal admiration and respect for live art. Performing onstage is one of the most vulnerable and beautiful experiences that I have had the absolute pleasure of having many times in my life. Like any other artist or craftsman, performing requires a certain amount of precision, skill, emotion, and energy in order to be considered great. In this day and age, a patron of the arts has the choice of watching someone perform live or watching them on a screen from the comfort of their own home. Ultimately, the decision is the viewer’s responsibility and their decision alone. According to Walter Benjamin, “By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence.” In my opinion, it is okay to have the option to either see a picture of the Mona Lisa on google images or to go and see it in persona all its authentic glory. Personally, I think there is no comparison between seeing a copy of something and seeing the original thing in person. There is a special aura surrounding an original piece of work that you cannot totally feel from a replica. Without question, seeing something extraordinary in person is a more special, poignant experience, and, as I already said, the decision is up to the person making it.
As a society, we need to strike the correct balance between these options and take responsibility for our choices and how we live our lives. James Fallows reveals how having a computer made his job much easier but also how it negatively affected his health and family life. Well, since the first step of having a problem is recognizing that one has a problem, Fallows cannot be a victim. He is aware of what is going on and that it is not good for him, so it is up to him to balance his use of the computer and time spent with his family. These are my general feelings toward everyone who decides to use technology to enhance their lives. Too much of anything is bad.
The one thing I sincerely do not know how to feel about is something Scott McCloud explores in his comic. He talks about how artists who use traditional, old-fashioned techniques are unable to compete with the instantaneous work that a computer can generate. This causes these artists to be in danger of unemployment, and I truly feel bad about this. Part of me just says, “Well, that’s just the way it is, and they need to keep evolving and learning if they want to continue to make money with their art.” But then there is another part of me that feels like it is unfair that these masters of a very difficult craft cannot get a job over someone who uses a computer. I can only hope that people will support the making of original art without the aid of computers or software, as well as other live forms of art free of major influences from technology.