Monday, November 11, 2013

Underground in the internet age? What a snob!

There was a time when, if you ran in certain creative circles, it was cool to be "underground." David Byrne, for example, remembers fondly the anonymity of his early years with the Talking Heads. “we felt comfortable trying out different things, songs that were quickly abandoned and stage wear that proved impractical,” he is quoted in an article in yesterday's New York Times. “That’s all hugely important (the songs part anyway) as it allowed us to explore, refine our identity and go down those musical dead ends without the embarrassment of public scrutiny.”

Today everyone posts everything online, whether or not it's been tested, whether or not it's considered "cool." In fact, there can be a backlash when someone chooses to remain aloof from the mainstream of the social media dominated culture. Now, it's considered snobbish.

No one denies the allure or the vast potential of the internet for artists (musicians, visual artists, everyone) who want to get their names out in the world. "Online exposure can make for an overnight viral sensation." But “it can also destroy and eliminate that crucial period of anonymity,” again, according to Byrne. “The Internet giveth, and the Internet taketh away.” 

The article goes on to describe a small but significant segment of the creative class who desire to remain underground, to experiment out of the public eye. Today, unlike the past, that means staying offline.

Check out: Sidestepping the Digital Demimonde." It's a good read. I'll post this to facebook now.


  1. To me david byrrne has always seemed pretentious and tryiing to hard to be cool.

  2. In our VISUAL ARTS culture, for better or for worse, we are married to publications/galleries/museums that extoll and propogate Outsider Art. (Read Raw Vision and/or visit INTUIT in Chicago.) Collectors, authors and dealers attempt to push forward their discoveries of persons who might be in this that may have shifting perimeters. One definition embraces those individuals that are "outside" mainstream common culture, personalities/intellects without "book-learning", without knowledge of sophisticated intentions and historical understanding. The art of the mentally challenged and "insane" came into the discussion no later than the 50's. Leslie Umberger, highly respected curator and author, once with the Kohler Arts Center and more recently appointed "Curator of folk and self-taught ar"t at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, has stated that we should not have divisions between what is "Outsider" and other categories. If the art expression remains honest, an authentic response involving artist, motivations and materials, that is enough for us to judge if the art is "good or bad". What to make of the "Outsider" visual artists who seeks the limelight, who desire publications and media to focus on them? They cannot be prevented from accessing information from any fact, it might be that what is found on the Internet takes them to new fresh expressions that are more amazing than what was done before. And it is a good thing, I think, that we all have been introduced to those extraordinary art folks who stretch the boundaries of what is acceptable. They have enabled some of us to step outside our own limted "boxes", to utilize methods and materials in extraordinary ways...enlightening, enriching, entertaining, expanding our thoughts...evolving ourselves and our culture. Thanks for prompting some thought. Gary John Gresl