PressPausePlay questions whether the digital age helps or hinders creativity. Our own Mike Snowdon was invited to discuss the issues raised by the movie at FACT Liverpool:
The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent in an unprecedented way, with unlimited opportunities. But does democratised culture mean better art or is true talent instead drowned out? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era – as their blurb so eloquently encapsulates in a nutshell.
Last night I was invited by Liverpool’s culture commentators The Double Negative to watch a screening of the thought provoking documentary that was held at FACT. Alongside Smiling Wolf’s Mike Walsh and Andrew Beattie from City Tribune, I was invited to discuss the issues raised with our host for the evening, Laura Robertson from The Double Negative.
As a self diagnosed ‘graphic artist’, gone are the days where I could truly specialise in one area. Having freelanced for the larger part of my career, I’ve taken any work which came my way, much of which forced me to learn new skills and technologies. This has blurred the lines of my CV and my work could not be neatly defined to a prospective employer looking through my portfolio. What we see now are generations of new graduates who naturally have many strings to their bow, having grown up in a more technologically diverse world than I did. Is it not just a generational dogma that we will always fear the rise of young talent and new technology as it sweeps us along in our transient lives?
The fear of democratised culture for me is naturally relevant being in the field I am, but it doesn’t herald the end of craft, as some in the documentary suggest. It’s true that anyone can get themselves a decent digital camera or buy software for creating art and music which will provide them with powerful tools that yield instant results that would have taken hours for a professional some 10 years ago. Anyone can snap a picture, make some notes, scribble some lines then upload, like, share, pin, tweet and blog them to their heart’s content but it still takes understanding, skill and practice to make a great photographic composition, to arrange a musical movement or to know which strokes make the best expressions. All we’re giving people are the tools, thankfully it still takes skill, hard work and genuine creativity to produce truly great art, music or literature.
Does the closing of the gap between the amateur hobby artist and the professional herald ruin for the industry? I think not. It may be harder to succeed with so much competition and noise, but is was never easy in the first place. The issues raised by PressPausePlay, whilst genuinely a threat to our current cultural structures, reminds me of the philosophical principle of ‘Universal Flux.’ Heraclitus says that all things pass and nothing stays, and comparing existing things to the flow of a water, he says you could not step twice into the same river.
There is no pause button for life, it’s values, crafts and cultures. Things change and evolve and we with them, kicking and screaming.