Words S Nomanbhoy.
Header Credits Fatema D.
It is hard to think of a world that is not connected by a series of online applications, each slightly different, but largely the same. They undoubtedly connect the world but simultaneously magnify our actions, both conscious and accidental. It is a breeding ground for insecurities where our images always seem to be lacking and the ‘likes’ are never enough.
Gone are the days of film and with it that one shot. With smartphones lining the pockets of nearly every millennial and decorating billboards all across the globe, photographs have become immediate. Waiting has become a habit of the past.
The interconnectedness that has been introduced by these technological devices and their accompanying social applications has undoubtedly improved efficiency and convenience. However, it has simultaneously encouraged an age of ‘clicking’ and ‘posing’. Whilst language is distinct to particular cultures and countries, selfies bridge the gap that words sometimes create.
What then has been the effect of social media on art? The arguments surrounding the benefits of social media on art are numerous and whilst I agree that it has provided a non-institutionalised platform for the creation and display of art, the disadvantages are equally important.
As an avid art historian, I spend a lot of time in museums. Whilst I have volunteered and interned extensively, my favourite part about galleries are their artworks. I love to just sit and ponder. To think about the artwork and its creator is highly interesting, to wonder about the brush strokes and painted figures even more.
The introduction and prevalence of social media has disrupted the haven-like qualities of these institutions. Rather than being the primary focus of visitors, artworks have become secondary, accessories to the never-ending stream of selfies.
It saddens me that instead of focusing on the labels, which curators have spent hours writing and researching, visitors are content with a photograph, an image that is nearly always available on the museum’s online catalogue.
I realise that these statements might be generalised and don’t relate to everyone, but the next time you are in front of a piece of artwork, whether it is a painting or sculpture, take a minute, put away your incessantly buzzing phones and look.
What is the first thought that comes to mind? Pause and reflect. It doesn’t matter that it might be completely implausible and irrational. It is of little relevance that you lack knowledge in art history. What is important is that you physically and emotionally engage with the art because the images, much like words in a book, will reveal a fantastical and alternate reality, if you just give it a chance.