Digital: Internet opens creative doors

Ben Sadkowski/News Editor

The Internet is one of the most sophisticated inventions of man — a constantly morphing, digital organism that seems to almost have a life of its own. It serves all facets of media, but a particularly unique facet of the Internet is its facilitation for promoting creative work and the spread of information.

Bettina Fabos, a professor of modern culture and media at the University of Northern Iowa, said, “Every creative industry is now dependent on the Internet.”

“One of the best things the Internet has brought for creative people and artists is a more efficient and successful way of advertising your art,” said CFHS graduate Robb Klassen, now a senior student at Brooks Institute of Photography. “Because of websites like Facebook, Myspace, Deviant Art, WordPress and Tumblr, artists are able to put their art up and showcase themselves to a very large audience.”

A unique facet of current artistic websites is their lack of complexity.

“What’s beautiful about these sites is that they are extremely simple to use and put together, so artists who may not be all that savvy with technology are able to use these sources and use them successfully without having to pay someone to create a website for them or spend hours trying to figure out how to create one themselves,” Klassen said.

Often, the Internet serves best as a marketing tool for artists and not necessarily as a tool to create art.

“I feel that my online portfolio hasn’t necessarily helped me creatively, but I do know that it has helped me in a marketing standpoint. Being able to give people my website who show an interest in my work is an amazing thing to do,” Klassen said.

Klassen went on to describe a specific instance in which he utilized the Internet to promote his work.

“Just the other day I was talking with a client over the phone and he was wanting to show me the type of photography he was looking for,” he said. “Before the Internet was created, we would have been able to talk on the phone but then on top of that we would have had to set up a meeting so he could bring all of his information and show me in person what it was specifically that he was looking for. Because of the Internet, though, he was able to explain and show me everything that he was looking for within the course of a half hour phone conversation, and I was at the same time able to show him more of my work online, which in the end got me the paying job.”

However, despite its popularity and ease of use, the Internet does not hold all the solutions to promoting oneself as an artist.

“What a lot of people don’t think about is that if you want to become a successful artist, you need to use all means of publicity and not just the Internet. This means holding art shows, trying to get publicity in art magazines, socializing at events and during all of this trying to present yourself as a unique individual and not like the millions of other artists who are out there,” Klassen said.

Also, despite its prominence, visual art shares the Internet with many other creative genres, particularly music.

“In terms of music, Radiohead was one of the first groups to break from their label and distribute their album online. OK Go is the really significant band right now, breaking from their major label after getting famous from their treadmill video that was released on YouTube,” Fabos said.

Regardless of which genre of art an individual works with, the Internet also allows for combining creative efforts.

“We are in an age where people are remixing each others’ works, building mashups and recognizing that single authorship is not as relevant as the postmodern concept of ‘we stand on the shoulders of giants.’ The idea is that we all build knowledge, which includes creative works, collectively,” Fabos said.

The Internet has indeed helped promote creative growth. However, with the growth of the Internet and digital has come the decline other physical forms of media.

“Books will never go away, but textbooks will, newspapers will and DVDs are toast. All media is converging onto the Internet platform, and as the Kindle, iPad, HP Slate tablet and the new thing Google is developing (a new smart phone) get more advanced, we’ll be using these devices for all media,” Fabos said.

Klassen was of a similar opinion.

“Unfortunately, over the course of time I think the Internet will dominate most forms of media. Hopefully, if anything does stick around it’ll be books and magazines, but even that is questionable. I have hope though,” he said.

Despite its ease of use, some feel that the Internet is not as idiosyncratic as other, printed forms of media outlets.

“Books and magazines in my opinion are a lot more personal than the Internet, and I feel that other people feel the same way about them,” Klassen said. “Holding a book or magazine, feeling it and looking through it feels so much better than touching a mouse and scrolling down a page on a website. It also feels better writing a letter than it does typing it, but nobody does that anymore either, so I guess only time will tell. If books and magazines eventually become antiques, then I’ll open an antique store because I can’t stand the idea of there not being books for people to look through and get experiences and ideas from.”

Regardless of the substantial amount of controversy surrounding the benefits of the Internet in dominating a plethora of media outlets, it has produced very valuable benefits both for creative people and their audiences.

“Before we were passive as viewers. We couldn’t engage in the content, and now we’re active: we post comments, we download and remix and then upload it back again,” she said. “And it’s opened up a whole new extension of knowledge. They hyperlink is our new punctuation.”

Examples of remixing are plentiful, particularly in the realm of video.

“There are countless examples of people remixing work. Videos on YouTube such as ‘Endless Love,’ ‘Bush’ and ‘Blair Play the Weakest Link,’ and my personal favorite, ‘Hitler Finds Out KU Lost to UNI,’ are all great examples,” Fabos said.

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