The New Media, the Internet and Social Media sites have revolutionized the role of the Artist in the New Age. In the Old Economy the elite controlled who was published, in the New Economy the Internet is the ultimate democracy giving an immediate and accessible audience. In the 20th Century, before the Internet, it was more difficult to find an audience, to make artistic endeavor public. To illustrate how difficult this was, in Toronto in the 1970’s there was a science fiction writer who had enough financing to self publish his work in hardcopy (in and of itself a miracle). Then he would physically take a box of his books down to Yonge andDundas Street and attempt to dialogue with people as they passed to get them interested in purchasing a book.
I suspect this was very difficult to do considering the emotional climate of the times. Just to have someone actually read or witness your artwork is a huge event made tremendously easy by the affordability and accessibility of the Internet. The strictures of politics and time have been incredibly waylaid, someone’s work is made public regardless of lack of finances, enemies, misogyny or new Art Nouveau style. The Internet creates inspiration and encourages artistic process by the ease of seeing others work, encouraging mixed media formats (the mix of poetry with photos/art, the use of movies and music) that are easy to use, can be self-taught on the Internet and inexpensive. With the use of video trailers, social media sites and artist web sites for advertising, getting the word out, a dialogue with the audience and other Artists creates a buzz.
The Internet is the ultimate in interactive discourse, an information wave that spins truth and mythologies creating community, accountability, peace and enough. The artist becomes everyone. The New Age is the flowering of the artist and potentially an Arts Economy. We live in exciting times. What is success for the Artist/Writer? being read? Being able to support yourself financially from your artistic endeavors? Someone liking your work? Someone teaching your work in the classroom? Being recognized by your peers? Winning awards? In all these things, yes, made incredibly more possible by the Internet.
Traditionally the Western World is run by a patriarchy; a universal truth is the groups of people who can enforce their opinions/interests with violence usually have the most influence. (Another universal truth is if you can change people’s thoughts by speaking the truth you can change people’s actions but I digress …) In ancient
, the Oracle of Delphi matriarchal society (also known as Wiccan Pagan religion) was run by a priestess class who were sexually broken until they became seers. This society was displaced by a violent patriarchy from the North who instituted the Bardic Tradition. Wiccan society went underground.
The Bard was a man in the Gaelic society under a Tribal Chief, the role was hereditary.
The Bard would write poetry for special events or on any topic, would be the repository for Collective knowledge of the Community. With the invention of the written word the elite women of the society began writing poetry and having it published.
When this happened the Bards were no longer the only purveyors of poetry and eventually the role was disbanded as anyone could write and present poetry.
Work songs or the first folk music and poetry were the invention of the women and working class, as they wove cloth, looked after children, spun wool, they would create and sing poetry and songs (15thto 18th Century).
This was largely oral tradition and passed down by Collective Memory. A work song was made popular when a majority of people agreed they liked it, occasionally words were changed to suit new circumstances. With the English landowners taking the land to raise sheep and the potato famine (19th Century), a way of life was destroyed and peoples displaced and dying, there was an attempt to write down the oral tradition.
The Nobel Prize for Literature, since 1901 has been awarded to only 13 women of 128 winners. I suspect women Artists/Writers have faired better in regional contests, with the inclusion of women Artist/Writers peers as judges. Particularly, the contests launched by The League of Canadian Poets regularly includes women writers in the shortlists and as winners.
The Internet creates accessibility and an audience, but there are so many producers, with differing styles, differing education levels, and differing degrees of talent and with differing experience as writers. Some “writers” are putting their offerings in the public marketplace without being well practiced, offerings that are not ripe or perhaps not of the highest quality. This is where a good book review can give you an idea of content, style, and if the book is noteworthy. The artist and the internet is the ultimate anarchy and democracy existing in the same breath. No longer would a major talent go unnoticed in their own lifetime. For example, Emily Dickinson, a noted American Poet who wrote about 3,000 poems but was not published until after her death. When published she became quite popular. Sometimes it takes 50 years or more for the public to appreciate the vision place of an Artist, sometimes Artists may have enemies that may cause them to go unrecognized or their style may not be considered popular or truly noteworthy.
The writings, art, music of the seer and Catholic clergy St. Hildegard von Bingen (12th Century) was largely lost being dormant in a parish church until the 20th Century when she saw a rediscovery an with the Goth movement is particularly noted for her Gregorian Chants (poetry and music). I have a book of poetry titled,
Women Writers of
Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism
, it is fascinating poetry rich in imagery and emotion, however, often out of 1,000 poems by one Poet only 4 or 5 survive into the present day. It makes me wonder who through the ages has had their work displaced or ignored or maybe even destroyed, the loss of the artifacts of culture a black mark
A truly gifted offering uncelebrated is a sin, it is a loss of collective memory and creates a void. In the internet economy this would never happen, any writer/artist can have a web site, be on social media and/or upload their .doc files on Amazon. No longer does publishing rely on great outlays of monies, institutionalized education, or the elite’s opinion of your work. The Internet economy is the ultimate democracy for the Artist. In the internet economy the artist is free.