Ideas: January 2009 Archives
After Barack Obama won the election, my elation clouded my journalism. I was incapable of thinking about anything else. So when it came time to write about an event in Charleston called Kulture Klash, I had to figure out what it meant amid this historic change.
Kulture Klash is really an arts party like the kind commonly organized in New York. I’m told the place to go is PS1, but I’ve never been there and never been to one of those events. Kulture Klash, and I’d imagine events at PS1, are about diversity, creativity, and having a lot of fun. KK injects a radical social dimension into the arts and the arts give rise to a radical social dimension, mostly because the kind of art you’ll find there stems from street art — break dancing, graffiti art, aerial skating, juggling, hula hooping, etc.
In the wake of Obama’s victory, Kulture Klash seemed to have more significance than just an arts party. It seemed to embody a new set of ideals, a grass-roots and egalitarian value system shaped and given expression by the internet and social-networking sites. When all was said and done, more than 2,000 people had gone to Kulture Klash. In a Charleston context, that’s an enormous crowd and an important step in local arts.
Tim Wu, in a review of Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet (And How to Stop It), aptly notes that what makes our age special, in technological terms, is its “generative” nature: “‘Generativity’ is a central notion in his book, and he means what it says: that the Net has made us all mini-generators — not of electricity, but of information and innovation. Who today is not at least sometimes an online analyst, poet, or publisher, even if just of Facebook updates?” (Read Wu’s review in full in The New Republic.)
In a piece in a November issue of Charleston City Paper, I attempted to draw a connection between Obama’s win, the ideals of Web 2.0, and this generative nature among those born after 1980, those who not only gave YouTube and Facebook their current cache, but who also expect interactivity in whatever they do. I suggest that this is a turning point.
Of what, I don’t know. But something is turning. You can feel it.
Creativity is a part of their lives. Millennials don’t just dream it. They be it. Kulture Klash’s website tells why the event matters: “For the sake of art and community.”
“We want everyone to have a voice, everyone to get involved,” says Gustavo Serrano. “If we can tap into everyone’s imagination, who knows what will happen?”
The idea of a bottom-up, idealism-based community of creative types, like Kulture Klash, goes back to the ancient Greeks.
Today, it can be found in knitting circles, jazz ensembles, open-source technology like Linux, crowdsourced knowledge consortiums like Wikipedia, community arts projects like the recent The Future Is on the Table art exhibit at City Gallery, and even in pick-up games of basketball (which is, because of its reliance on the integrity of individual players, Barack Obama’s favorite pastime).
These have characteristics that challenge the old guard of established arts professionals whose minds were galvanized, like Clinton and Bush, by “great disruption” of the 1960s. These characteristics include participation over presentation, collaboration over competition, amateurism (in the best sense of the word) over professionalism, and process over product.
Grassroots creativity is an old idea (Walt Whitman exulted the inventive potential of diversity), but the difference now is scale.
Ninety-five million Americans are applying the ideals of Web 2.0 to the real world, including their approach to the arts.
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog