For the new Art21 Magazine, (Oct/Nov Issue: "Becoming an Artist"), Joy Garnett launches her new column with some thoughts on copying and archival tendencies in the 21st century.
My students were teenagers when Aaron Swartz (at fourteen years old) cowrote the specification for the RSS feed. They are his peers. As young adults, they have eased off their PlayStations (for the most part!) to enter more challenging pursuits with the help of ever-more sophisticated personal gadgetry and software. They came of age with participatory reblogs like Tumblr, photo-sharing sites like Flickr, and all manner of social media. They tend to stream their music and watch movies via torrents; they learn of world events through online news channels and blogs and, since 2006, Twitter.
Now, as studio artists in college or graduate school, they face a career landscape that offers them more varied choices than mine did. For one thing, the boundaries between careers in so-called commercial art and more personal, gallery-driven art have become blurred or nonexistent. The business of art has become a preoccupation, even as the art world is transitioning away from its entrenched and outdated models. New possibilities and strange bedfellows are welcome. But regardless of whether my students are interested in pursuing careers in academia or animation, or in the less dependable world of commercial galleries, their studio practice is part of the digital world—their world. Priorities have shifted away from an earlier paradigm of authorship with its well-worn image of a creator in isolated reflection. This is probably true for the rest of us, too, we analogue natives. But even if one works in relative solitude, the ethos of the creative commons and the practice of “share and share alike” has infused all our thinking to a much greater extent than we realize or are willing to admit.
Whether primarily invested in painting or animation, glitch art or video, net art, conceptualism, or social-media performance, most artists today, but especially younger artists, lean decidedly towards research and experimentation across all mediums. We are nothing if not interdisciplinary.