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Submitted on
August 1, 2012
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The Age of Discernment

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 8:13 PM by techgnotic:icontechgnotic:

With great access comes the great responsibility of discernment.

→ This article was inspired by the conversation in the comments generated from last week’s Suggestivism article.

As we traverse the final phases of maximum raw information accumulation, potentially equipping us for jacking in to the promise of the Singularity, the contents of many lifetimes’ worth of knowledge, art, education, and history are now at our fingertips. More and more Universities, libraries and arts institutions have swung open their digital doors and granted access to their lectures, courses and curricula free of charge to anyone in the world with a connection to the web. Access to education is fundamentally shifting our society towards an unmappable future.

Comments: 60
Favourites: 696
Views: 16,289

Here at deviantART there seems to be a new age dawning as well. deviantART has always provided an artist to artist education for new and developing artists. But more and more artists, both amateurs and professionals of all levels, are using deviantART as a real resource and platform in the creation and exhibition of their personal art gallery rather than just a place to exhibit their own works. And the arts conversation on deviantART runs across all race, religion, social classes, age, gender and education levels. Participants in this grand conversation often include the elites in their chosen medium as well as artists just creating their first sketches. The sheer amount of art categories on dA is breath-taking, the scope of beauty and imagination within each of those categories unparalleled.

Comments: 387
Favourites: 2,387
Views: 297,771

But is there a danger to all information – and all art – being right at the fingertips? Will we lose sense of what is bad, good, better and best art? Will art become just one process or activity, rather than the occasional expression of the miraculous that it sometimes is? What will become of our powers of discernment in the flood of information? Rather than becoming self-satisfied about all the great art now just a click away, maybe we should start trying to decide what meaning art should have in our lives, as well as what art is meaningful for our future. Important things in how we are beginning to communicate as one worldwide community of peoples are happening just beneath the surface. Now may be the time when more, not less, thoughtfulness should be deployed in discerning which art means the most to you as an artist or art appreciator?

Comments: 174
Favourites: 4,130
Views: 30,200

We seem to have come to a major societal “look before you leap” moment. Shall we just keep technologically cannonballing forward, full steam ahead to wherever our digital momentum takes us? Or is it time to pump the brakes and start a serious conversation about whether or not the fundamental shift in the technology of our society should usher in a new fundamental shift in the values of our society.

So the great question confronts us all, and with each day it becomes less hypothetical and more urgent: With the advent of universal access to all information all of the time how will we decide to personally sort or categorize content or make preferences or align to and thus create global values? Will we be able to take the new responsibility thrust into our hands and really do the right thing? Will we choose the global over the personal? Will we start making choices with an eye toward our digital information-based “footprints” - - the record of our choices - - and the unintentional fallout as they become votes and statistics affecting other choices for the unseen populace of the World Wide Web?

We now have just about all the information we’re ever going to need to make a real change in this world. The ability to discern what in that information is important and which takes priority is the new challenge of our age.

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QuestionsFor the Reader

  1. Does the sheer amount of art becoming more and more available for your perusal give you a sense of excitement – or a feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious that you’ll never be able to take it all in?
  2. Do you think you personally have enough of a power of discernment to be able to separate important and meaningful from superfluous art?
  3. While being able to discern between what is “important” and what is “fun” art, is it your feeling that frivolous art meant simply for enjoyment is just as important as more substantial meaningful art?
  4. What if anything will be the personal impact on your life of the arrival of the Singularity in regard to your relationship with the arts?

With great access comes the great responsibility of discernment. As we traverse the final phases of maximum raw information accumulation, potentially equipping us for jacking in to the promise of the Singularity, the contents of many lifetimes’ worth of knowledge, art, education, and history are now at our fingertips. More and more Universities, libraries and arts institutions have swung open their digital doors and granted access to their lectures, courses and curricula free of charge to anyone in the world with a connection to the web. Access to education is fundamentally shifting our society towards an unmappable future.

Writers: $techgnotic
Designers: $marioluevanos
Urban by ~WWWest
Ronald Reagan Riding a Velociraptor by *SharpWriter
Athena by ~Michael-C-Hayes
sprained minds by `suzi9mm
148 by ~StudioUndertheMoon
Green and greener by ~dianadades
Saudade, I by *borissov
Add a Comment:
twins6292 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2013
Art is art. there is no way to separate it as good or bad, fun or important. every bit is important and brings out feeling and what is seen. an artist could not live without his/her art. it makes them who they are no matter the type, style, medium, or even program used. Art is freedom!
BadDad5198 Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013
Art is discovery, an emotional connection. No volume of art, type
Microno95 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
To some degree it is overwhelming to see so much art and discern what is good and what is bad. As I peruse through the most popular artworks on the DeviantArt front page I sometimes notice myself accepting that all the artworks I see are the best of the best when in fact they may not be and that allows me to take a step back and decided for myself the good and the bad. The way I perceive things there are two ways that art takes on meaning: a) The artwork has a meaning that you attach to it and b) The artwork has a meaning the artist attaches. At some point it was about what you saw in the art before you and you would interpret it and give it meaning but now, with the advent of greater social exposure of the artist through descriptions accompanying the artworks, the artwork has started to now take on the meaning the artist attaches. This in turn nullifies our own interpretations since we accept the artists meaning as the 'True' meaning of the artwork. This on one hand allows better insight into the artists mind, something that for a very long time was impossible but on the other hand damages our ability to discern between superfluous and meaningful art. Why do I say this? I say this because superfluous artwork is dependent on the audiences' perspective and how they attach meaning to that artwork. An artist may have painted a red TARDIS to show his/her love for Doctor Who while alluding to the Doctor's title of the 'Oncoming Storm' but without this information, the artwork becomes just another photoshopped piece that is of no significance other than aesthetic pleasure. So then we are faced with a conundrum: An artists meaning can completely remove variety of interpretation while simultaneously birthing interpretation in other artworks. So then where do we draw the line between artworks that need to be left to the viewers mind and artworks that need to be explained? If it needs a description, an explanation does that mean the artwork isn't really art since it isn't able to convey the artists thoughts and feelings? So then we come back to meaningful and superfluous artworks where meaningful could be described as art that takes on meaning and fosters innovative thoughts in the viewer whereas superfluous artworks are works that need an explanation and have no meaning without the artist. But then it could be argued that a lack of skill is a cause for this so then what is to be done? I think rather than focusing on whether or not the singularity will affect us and our ability to discern good art from bad art (What IS good and bad art?) we should be focusing on when art actually takes on meaning. It is an incredibly subjective matter that can't really be argued because one may see an artwork and deign it to be meaningful whereas another might say it is superfluous. At some point it is about the brains ability to actually process information and having instantaneous access to an almost limitless amount of artworks that could and could not have meaning will end up being impossible to process. It is in fact quite similar to how when you're reading a textbook on Physics and after a certain point your brain becomes a fully soaked sponge, unable to take in anymore and you're left staring at the page with a blank expression re-reading the same sentence over and over again. That's what will happen if the person doesn't moderate their exposure to artworks and they will lose their ability to discern between good and bad (Again, what is good and bad?). I don't feel like the singularity will affect me because I already attempt to view art in controlled bursts rather than over the course of many hours and many artworks. I think what really matters is where we draw the line and the issue with that is the fact that it is a personal matter rather than a universal one. In some sense the singularity will spark differentiation on a whole new level but will also create similarity over time since the mind is prone to accepting what is "popular" or "favourited" as better artworks than works which have no such label. I hope I've made sense and please forgive me for the lack of paragraphs and bad grammar and spelling (If I've done that).
LOVE4JAPAN Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
If you think about it, isn't the very fabrics of nature art in some way? We walk out into towns, cities and turn on the TV; in modern day we are simply surrounded by art where ever we go, are we not? If something makes an impact on us, can't we just say that was another piece of artwork? Does art really need labeling as art; and is art a type of philosophy in some respect? I believe that art does not always need a meaning or intentionally have a meaning to start with, I for one have gone out and taken photos before that have won contests and I had no meaning for them at all or for taking them, but it's the meaning that the audience give it and the feelings that they get that define the art and make it what it is. Isn't art a piece of mind... The way we interpret it and the way we use our own creativity to see it? And if art is every where as I think it is, then no, I personally don't have enough time to take it all in and appreciate it to it's full potential, because each and everything I set my eyes on is art to me.

That's my opinion anyway :) (P.s. I think that emoticon is an art in itself, because it conveys a feeling.)
okamifuyu Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012
2. I think I know what kind of art I like and I find silly or overdone, at some points I also find things that I would never consider art and can not see how others would consider it art, just the same there are things I do not like but still consider works of art, for whom ever likes stuff like that.
However I doubt I would know what others would consider world class art. Also I think the availability of art makes it even harder to call something world class art because everyone can now see all kinds of art, and not just what art snoops considered good.
3. in this time were more and more people seem to find less time to appreciate the beauty that is found in the world and the time to sit down, relax and have fun, I believe that both substantial meaningful as well as frivolous art meant for enjoyment both have a very important place in our everyday life and society. In our world it can sometimes be hard to find moments were not only you yourself are of work but also your friends. the urge for fun and relaxation doesn't disappear just because your friends don't have time, at which point art both fun, and serious art can be much needed help, whether it's art in the form of games for consoles and pc, music art of beauty or other forms of art, we've found uses for all of them, and I find they have a very strong place in our society.
What I do wonder is whether or not it is getting harder to earn a living on just being an artist rather than being part of a team, that makes advertises, movies, games or other such kind of things. Is the battle for getting ones art seen in art galleries getting harder?
InvinciblePizza Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
I say this, a person may make art that doesnt seem good to most, and this can affect if it is good or bad, or a person may not like the artwork or style of art, however it is all an opinion, and everyone has a different one of those.
LOVE4JAPAN Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Couldn't of said it better myself friend!!!
InvinciblePizza Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
My opinion, is that you do not need to have an understanding of art. Anyone can make good art, it doesnt take years or lots of practice, however that does help improve it, and the emotion doesnt necesarilly have to be a good one. Maybe someone created a pocture that cause you to think of sadness, would that then not be art? No, it would still be. It is much in the perception of a viewer whether the art is good or not, much as it depepends on the person eating a food. The food can be made poorly and therefor not have a good taste except to few, or maybe a certain person doesnt like that type of food.
Nazaxprime Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012
Bad art?
For shame, there is NO such thing as far as I am concerned.
WhatHealsMeKillsMe Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1. Exciting! With the decline of emphasis in the Arts in primary and secondary education in the U.S.A., I am thrilled that I and my son have so much Art education and information on the internet. The more the merrier!

2. The answer to this question is entirely subjective, since Art IS in the eye of the beholder AND the Artist. There are people working on "factory lines" spitting out cups and saucers all over the globe, which can be viewed as superfluous, but it captures attention in buyers otherwise they'd be out of business. So what is "Art"? That is the real question here, and is as subjective as the reaction to said "Art". I have a broad view of what "Art" is, so for me to say a certain Piece is "superfluous" would be a rush to judgement and supposes I know more about the Artist than I possibly can. I guess "meaningful Art" boils down to the Artist; some of the most popular Painters died before their work was ever admired as being "True Art". I've studied the Masters in Humanities class my Senior year of High School, but I am able to see the same amount of meaning in a sculpture of "Found Art" made from a toilet seat and other household items sold on the side of the road in a rural area. Imagination and Self Expression is the only criteria for "Meaningful Art" in my humble opinion; it may not be pretty to you, but someone will see it and admire it. Besides, as an Artist I create my most "meaningful Art" for myself, not others; if a viewer enjoys it, that is a side effect.

3. This question is an assumption: that "fun Art" cannot also be "substantial and meaningful". Who is to say Art cannot be both whimsical AND meaningful? Who says fun in life does not carry substance? Adults need to learn how to play more; they've forgotten the importance of playing and having fun, and then wonder why they're having a heart attack at 40 years old. Take lessons from a five year old once in a while. You don't have to be a "fuddy-duddy" to create a "Masterpiece"!

4. It is impossible for me to say; the only thing that matters to me with that possibility is as long as Humanity maintains its own individual imagination, we will be free to dream. As long as we are free to dream, Art will always carry importance to our species; but as a Traditional Artist, I hope I would still have passion to create through mediums I can touch and feel. I would hope I wouldn't rely on some kind of technical short-cut downloadable to my brain as is suggested by the idea of Singularity in mainstream media (as one example, think "The Matrix": when Neo plugs into the Program to learn Tactical Skills, after 10 hours he opens his eyes and says, "I know Jujitsu!"). Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but I'd rather take the long steady road of applying each step on the Path and take in the view along the way rather than rush past possible life-affirming or life-altering events and/or epiphanies. As our parents told us and we tell our children: don't be in such a hurry to grow up! ;)
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