This essay is a brainstorm and a flow of thought that has crossed my mind recently about the potentials of digital media from the perspective of the artist. Within this digital media I see independent media contents (indymedia), individual and group web blogging and (radical) online journalism practices such as the Kanuti Gildi SAAL Magazine.
First of all I find important here to mention that every person that reads this article is a user of the internet. If I assume that you are an active user of internet you then become a digital citizen (netizen). We live in the age of information, this means that creation, distribution and use of information is a significant cultural activity. This information based society is driven mainly through communication technologies such as phones and computers. Digital culture is inseparable and so strongly embedded within our everyday lives that the extent at which we use it can even become unnoticeable. This causes change within our behaviours and within society.
Practicing digital media in an artistic context comes in many forms and expressions. This section is based mainly on my own observations. The first level is a passive media practitioner, who uses it mainly just for personal use (not so much related with the artwork they do). They form their digital identity by sharing time after time simple information (inviting people to events, liking some posts and so on) and don’t take too much responsibility to participate. The second level is an active media practitioner who actively and critically produces, uses and consumes content. Showing and producing continuous content keeps people constantly up to date with their active storytelling in social media, starts some discussions and is a critical user of others content as well forming a small feedback circle or community around themselves. Community mostly consists of close (psychologically and geographically close to you) friends, relatives and local artists. After that comes the third hyper active level of media practitioners (this is my self made term, I took inspiration from the word “hyper-sociability”) who not just are active producers and consumers but also build a global community around themselves (that means the circle around the art/content) and creates discussions that are not just geographically situated into one place, the community is not mostly friends and family but other members from different art scenes, fans and so on. Third level media practitioners create content that maybe exists only in digital media and not in ‘real life’ (I write it in quotes because if the art work is first made for sharing in digital environments then I can start to question which environment is the real one?), have public discussions and are in an open relationship with other consumers of their content.
What is the digital practice idea? Its main purpose is to be visible, search, organise, entertain, interact, network, communicate, archive and all together building a personal relationship with digital devices, it’s functions and its possibilities. When we would swap the word media practice with artistic practice, things wouldn’t change too much. Using this example, it would seem that digital media is a perfect platform for them to express themselves.
In many traditional practices this digital way of thinking could prove and has proven a real advantage, such as within the idea of globalisation (building global communities, being in dialog with a wider range of people), individualisation (active and continuous self-expression, identity forming, sharing, freedom of speech, self-empowering), post-nationalism (diversity, culture mixing, accepting and sharing, gender equality and so on). Using those two practices in combination may give for the artist a way more powerful influence and meaning within our current bigger society/digital age, as well as helping to possibly start new forms of intercultural movements and discussions. I recently conducted research to find out from where comes the power of protesting within the digital age and in conclusion I found that it empowers people with the possibility to go with their issues online and global and find solutions. The art scene is struggling more and more in different countries, with far right political groups or governments who want to restrict them in their work and supposedly decrease their freedom of speech and viewpoints (many times they might be critical against them) gaining power. In this case, it would be more useful as an artist to use these empowering advantages from digital culture to fight against it.
There are so many examples in different scenes that have successfully taken this medium from the start seriously. For example, computer game communities or techno and other music scenes. Also many online communities that have an active membership and open discussion (Reddit). People solve problems and learn from there, building the wider audience and consumer tribes around the “product”. But this needs definitely a dedication and some sort of a new hybrid forms on expressions. The content creator shouldn't just stay in the simple form of sharing content and stay stuck in their narrowly defined media space, but rather find new ways and forms of which to present their ideas and create the communities around themselves. As said before, new hybrid form of artistic and digital practices would be necessary. While somebody might see the web blogs and radical online journalism as just a bit of fun, the others represent the rebirth of participatory democracy, a new form of journalism, and even the home of a new public intellect.