Social media and Contemporary Art: Comparable?

Sometimes, inspiration arrives from the strangest tangents. Social media advocates are spinning and flaying nowadays.

At a time when traditional media is cutting back on resources, corporations are demanding that any and all marketing tactics demonstrate solid and measurable performance.

Social media advocates are scrambling to adjust to a new era of accountability - and to actually justify the relatively miniscule budgets so far allocated to social media within the larger marketing envelope.

The magic of social media comes from its inherent flexibility and capacity to inspire creative expression through text, audio and video.

After all, a marketing gimmick doesn't "go viral" because of the strength of its integrated marketing plan: instead, it infects thousands with an inspired insight, a creative flourish or an audacious pitch.

Nevertheless, we've hit a point where increasing numbers of PR and marketing types are flooding into social media.

At the moment, I'm having a hard time tuning into a conversation were hundreds if not thousands of like minded voices spend an inordinate amount of time debating similar questions and lauding the same limited number of (publicly disclosed) social media case studies.

I'm not questioning the value PR and marketing types bring to the table - especially if they are creative and innovative - but I do worry about efforts to corporatize and systematize social media.

What is the experience in other creative fields?

" ... The everyday is not selling well in the art world these days. People are more interested in the strategies of the market than in tactics of survival.

The difference between a strategy and a tactic in this context was described very well in Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life (1980). A strategy, according to de Certeau (a Jesuit turned social scientist), relates to a form of authority that is capable of producing laws and commercial goods, including art and culture. A tactic, however, belongs to those people who defy authority and infiltrate institutions, but do not wish to take them over.

The art world has always reflected this dichotomy between strategies and tactics in the production of art. When its economy is strong, most of the subjects – artists, curators, collectors, dealers – follow strategy’s path.

But when that economy collapses, the surviving subjects move into a more tactical sphere, embracing new methods of production in ephemeral situations and courting the everyday more than the permanence of art history through the object – be this a painting or a sculpture, photograph or video installation ..." (Now is For Ever, Again - Francesco Bonami on the Everyday - Tate ETC)

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