The Role of the Audience in Art
The internet has changed the role of the audience in art. Social media and digital technology have changed things so much that it is worth reconsidering the role of the audience to art altogether, and to question how audience reaction can be seen as part of the work.
At the moment we are in an age where information is freely available on the web. We act as audience to any content on the internet. This gives the user a powerful role in deciding things for ourselves.
Those in power are attempting to shut down access to information as well as our ability to post what we want on the internet. At present, as I write this, it is not certain if they will succeed. One thing is certain though, when information is on the internet, images act as a powerful force. Successful politicians have a clever social media presence. They use imagery and words to capture their audience. At the moment, before audiences become media savvy, they can manipulate the lowest instincts in their followers to gain power. People are only just learning about this danger.
How does the free availability of information and imagery change the role of the audience? How does this affect the artist?
The role of the audience in respect of art has changed.
Our audience are highly sophisticated image analysts. so, if the artist is to continue to be an interpreter of culture and a commentator on the cultural world they inhabit, then social media are a key to artistic process.
The role of the artist has changed if the audience is an active commentator and success depends on “likes” and online reactions. Artists become commentators. They interpret the world to their audience. The audience react to what they see. Where information is freely available, truth is not exactly an issue. If we dig, we can find out if something or someone is a fake. but where truth is hard to find, the artist has a new relationship with the audience. The role of the artist is to represent a comment on what they perceive as truth, and the role of the audience is to react to it.
So our audience has changed with the advent of Virtual Worlds. But where does that leave the artist?
The artist therefore has to reconsider the role of the viewer, and their relationship with their audience. The viewer is not longer just the gallery, or the owner of an art book. It is not the just the traditional viewer, but anyone who keys into the image on the internet.
There are several key elements to be considered.
Firstly, the artist has to consider how the internet can and does influence people. What is important, is how the audience responds to information as presented in an art work, and their response can be part of the work itself. Image and media are the keys here, and its appeal to the subconscious instincts of the audience.
The role of the audience
The audience to a piece of artwork used to be the cultured educated classes. They were the ones who defined what art was. They controlled the cultural aesthetic. They led the ideology and culture of a society, and the masses followed.
Of course this changed with the advent of a mass society, but the role of the audience in defining what is art remained essentially the same. The arts council of the UK is currently trying to reach these broader masses, mostly in an attempt to retain government funding.
But how has it changed with the advent of new technologies and social media? How has it changed the role of the artist and what we define as a piece of art? Who defines what is a piece of art?
The role of the viewer in an art gallery
The role of an owner of a piece of art
The role of the viewer using online media