By Charumati Haran:
The Arts are the physical manifestations of our creativity. Music, dance, painting, sculpture, architecture, writing, theatre, filmmaking and so forth can make an impact on our minds in unique ways. On the other hand, the internet is a multi-talented tool — a medium of expression and communication, making it a repository of knowledge. Rather like a Swiss army knife, it simplifies our daily tasks and expands our options. Thus, it is inevitable that the interaction of art and technology in society leads to new creations and redefines traditional practices.
First of all, internet gives a lot of visibility to arts. Internet has increased the knowledge of people about The Arts. Earlier, people were restricted to the films and music they could see on TV or hear on the radio. Now there is a sprawling internet community which discusses the best and worst of creative endeavours. Witness the popularity of Kolaveri Di, Gangnam Style or Coke Studio. This gives a boost to upcoming artists, musicians, poets etc. We can easily find like-minded people and communities which help us follow the work of our favourite musicians, artists, dancers, filmmakers, cartoonists etc. The internet facilitates the organization of exhibitions, concerts, performances and conventions and gives them publicity.
The internet is making The Arts accessible:
Google Art Project, lets us view various artworks at high resolution;
Project GutenbergÂ offers free ebooks;
YouTubeÂ gives us access to music and movies.
Before the internet, the arts were usually a prerogative of the rich and elite, who could afford to hire artists. With online shopping, it has become so much easier to bring art into one’s home — beautiful paintings, interior dÃ©cor pieces and our favourite music and books. Now we can find even very obscure works with a couple of clicks. Whether you want something old or whether you want something made in another country, it is easier for you to find it through the internet. Now we can enjoy almost every art form from the comfort of our homes!
Internet is helping people hone their skills. The ease of uploading information on the internet and that too in varied forms, combined with the revolution in Open Education is making it very easy for people to learn new skills. There are resources — textural, verbal and audio-visual — which can help us learn more about whichever art form is closest to our heart. Whether we want to learn photography or sheet music, we can, with just a Google search. The immense accessibility and visibility no doubt explains the proliferation of creative content on the internet. Bathroom singers and closet writers alike are coming out of their shells and sharing their creativity on the internet! Many have become minor celebrities through Facebook or YouTube.
Internet is helping us develop The Arts in new forms. By providing so many free software, an amateur can access excellent photo-editing, video-editing and music mixing software and create content comparable to professional work. Consider the new hype surrounding ‘Panoramas’ — 360 degree photographs — which lots of new cameras were advertising for a while. Websites like 360cities.net and Google Street View help us get unique, high resolution views of some of the most beautiful monuments and landscapes from around the world.
What about the other side? Are The Arts having an effect on the internet? Certainly! As a tool of the media, the internet naturally reflects something of society. It both absorbs and transmits the voice of the people. In the last few years we have seen so much creative content made available on the internet — images, blogs, fonts, logos, smileys, maps, wallpapers. The interest of people in arts has made the internet change its very nature — it used to be a boring text-filled place. Now it’s flashing, popping, sparkling and even speaking! It’s enriched by symbols and languages from all over the world. Cultural phenomena which used to be restricted to a particular country are now celebrated all over the world. Take for example the “Keep Calm…” posters which have made a comeback.
In short, art unites people across the usual social, physical and financial boundaries. The internet is strengthening and enhancing this phenomenon. The power of thoughts and ideas is gradually superseding every restriction. And we are a part of this trend every time we do something as commonplace as catching our favourite TV shows on the internet or liking a picture on facebook. Isn’t it amazing how something originating in another part of the world has become part of our habits? Bazinga!