Art, peak oil and imagining the future

David Cross of Cornford and Cross writes on the RSA Arts & Ecology website today about how he believes the rules of artistic engagement are about to change :

As producers of visual culture, our moments of autonomy can be
frustratingly elusive. We must inform and persuade, and appeal to both
reason and emotion if we are to replace passive spectatorship with
conscious action. CONTEMPORARY ART SHOULD TEST CONCEPTS, ASSUMPTIONS AND BOUNDARIESBut in the market, attention is finite, and the
demands on our audiences’ time are many. Even our most original and
radical messages are assembled from borrowed fragments and framed by
preconceptions. To be meaningful, they must be palatable to audiences
accustomed to more familiar narratives.

Following established procedures can bring acceptance, and conforming to received ideas is often well
rewarded. But now the cheap oil is gone and the climate is badly
damaged; we are entering a new era. Though the nature of the coming
risks cannot be exactly predicted, a safe bet is that their reach,
scale and variety will demand many different responses. We cannot
prepare for all the uncertainties and surprises ahead, so diversity
offers a better chance of success than centralization and uniformity.
Besides, experiments are more interesting than blueprints…

Of course it is vital that visual communication is used to promote a
massive reduction in consumption. But if society is to adapt in time,
the issue is no longer simply about raising awareness. Rather, it is
about developing more radical ideas and alternatives. In
addition to producing aesthetic and contemplative experiences,
contemporary art and design should test concepts, assumptions and
boundaries in everyday life, and imagine new ways — material and
intellectual — of going about the world.

More here.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog