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Label: copeland

Wednesday 24th August 2016On Coupland's Essay, 'What if there's no next big thing?"

Douglas Coupland is an interesting guy. Whether or not you happen to like the fiction writing he is best known for, he's still an interesting guy to read. His latest short essay is a meditation on the nature of the progression of the art world and how it interrelates with technology. Published in the June 2016 edition of the journal e-flux, issue #74, it's a somewhat rambling but fascinating read.

If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, but sure to swing by the site and take a look. You can find it here: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/74/59778/what-if-there-s-no-next-big-thing/

The main premise, of course, is set out here: "What if there’s no next big thing? There was the Venus of Willendorf and Picasso and Duchamp and then Warhol and then came a hundred thousand highly defended micro-niches so microscopic that they make sense only when looked at in aggregate, like a mole of carbon dioxide molecules or a computer model of butterfly migrations in and out of Mexico: “The Emergent Behavior of Early Twenty-First Century Contemporary Art.” What if the micro-niching of art is art’s last broad stroke? What if art is over?"

It's an interesting premise, one that's near and dear to the hearts of many artists, but Coupland seems intent on assigning the blame (if it can so be called) directly at the feet of technology in the aggregate. To be fair, he admits almost directly that the answer to his question is "probably not", but he seems to miss the reason for the sudden microniche-ing of the art world.

In a world where there are so many people that microniches can survive at all, there's no reason to have a next big thing that everyone gets behind. The technology finally exists, from a connectivity standpoint and from a media dissemination standpoint, to entirely do away with 'next big things' anywhere. The entire premise of 'the next big thing' is dependent on a relatively homogenous society where you can rely on the guy on the other side of the country feeling the same way as you. When you have a human population of over 7 billion, that becomes more and more absurd.

So maybe he was right that there won't be a next big thing after all. But maybe he should be focusing more on the why.
 

Posted on August 24th 2016 on 05:42pm
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