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The Place of Social Media in Modern Art

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             Social media is the most widely used mode of communication nowadays. Its growth as a mode of communication and socialization stems from its convenience when compared to the traditional methods. Also, with the expansion in availability and reduction in the cost of the internet in the last two decades, the number of people accessing social media for communication has increased. There has been much debate on whether artists should utilize this mode of communication in disseminating their work. While there are genuine concerns about the formality and security of using social media, it is a convenient mode of communication that artists should use to reach as many people as they can.

 One motivation for the use of social media in art is its wide coverage. Many people currently use it as a way of communication, and many are now turning to it for official purposes. Information in any form of engagement, both for the designer and consumer, is important in making the correct choices about the art. [1] By keeping active social media connection, an artist can easily understand what kind of audience he is dealing with, and the general trends in the market, then structure his art to meet the specific preferences of this audience. Also, modern artists need to understand the power of the internet because it has the most progressive ideas on any art, and can be used to communicate with other artists so that one can borrow ideas and improve their own skills.[2] In fact, an artist can get immediate feedback on a product because the consumers or the audience have the opportunity to make comments immediately an artwork has been released. While one may argue that it was possible for feedback to be obtained even before the advent of social media, this medium is fast and affordable, and this encourages many people to give their comments. Therefore, an artist would deny himself an excellent opportunity if he failed to use social media.

            Secondly, social media is the best and easiest way to sell art. Previously, artists had to depend on middlemen and set up expensive galleries to sell their works. Also, such premises had major limitations because only those who could make physical visits could make purchases. Additionally, an artist can use social media to gain access to millions of potential buyers of his work from any part of the globe.[3] Traditionally, artists had to depend on middlemen who exploited them extensively. They had no way of selling their art directly to the people who needed it. In the case of films, one had to depend on established movie houses and cinema halls to sell their production, and this denied them substantial revenue. Now, they can sell their productions directly using social media and the internet payment systems available. For example, the Film Anchorman 2 by Ron Burgundy was a huge success because its release was preceded by a widespread social media campaign, which involved the director answering questions directly from his audience via tweeter. Notably, there are fewer people visiting art exhibitions or even attending movie screenings because of the demand of modern life, which include tight school or work schedules, family responsibilities, and the tough economic times. As such, social media is a suitable bridge for artists to use in bridging the gap by ensuring that interested audiences can access the art at the convenience of their places of residence or work. Thus, social media is a powerful tool which can transform an artist into his own marketer and distributor.

 Additionally, social media is the most powerful fundraising platform. An artist no longer needs to worry about how to finance his dream artistic project. All they have to do is share a link to his fundraising page and fans would easily access and donate accordingly. While critics may argue that this is a dangerous channel that can allow money laundering, the success and the cost of setting up the fundraising campaign, as compared to the traditional methods, shows that there are more advantages than disadvantages in using social media in art. The forum also offers those donating the opportunity to do so to causes they like without having to travel or meeting the recipients in person. Through social media, artists can receive funding from strangers among their fans. Also, such fundraising is real time, unlike the traditional methods which take time and resources.[4] Therefore, it is clear that social media revolutionizes the way artists finance their projects. Traditionally, artists relied on corporate organizations to finance their projects, and this came with many attached conditions. Social media, therefore, give the artist the freedom to execute their projects without bending them to suit the demands of sponsors.

            To underline the inevitable role of social media in future creative work production, there are films that have been released exclusively on social media and which, coincidentally, also feature this new mode of communication as part of the subject matter. One example is The Circle, a movie produced in 2017 and directed by James Ponsoldt. It features Mae, a young lady whose place of work is full of camera’s so that feedback and supervision is real time. Her rise at the place of work is due to her appreciation and understanding of the social networking mode as a way of communicating and working. At one time, she goes kayaking and has an accident, which requires rescue by the coast guard. It is technology that enables them to locate and rescue her. Initially, this film receives negative ratings, with analysts predict that it would be a failed project. Nonetheless, its release on social media opens a direct connection with the public, and the movie manages to return more than $40 million against an initial investment of $18million, which was the producer’s most successful project. This film is a good example of the power of social media in future art. Similarly, the movie, The Internship, which was released in year 2013, was hugely successful because of the power of social media. It is an American comedy about two salesmen who have lost their jobs because they cannot compete with younger, more tech-savvy salesmen. Again, the film was dismissed by analysts, but netted more that $93 million.

            Another example of the power of social media in art is the work of Lizzie Gill, an American media artist based in Brooklyn, New York. She focuses on the history of America and the complex composition of its people, and how this shapes the lifestyles of people in the country. She draws and paints images which highlight different areas of focus such as dress and fashion, hairstyle, dance and science fiction. She then uses social media to share her work, and has become one of the well known artists in the country. Her use of social media shows how artists with limited resources can exploit social media and directly reach their audience in disseminating their art.

From these examples, it is clear that the social media presents the future of art, and that those who hope to succeed must embrace it.

            However, the use of social media should be accompanied by thorough diligence and due process to ensure that the possible loopholes are maneuvered carefully. It should be noted that many artists have lost control of their work once they post it online because there is less monitoring and is prone to abuses and copyright abuse. There are much reproduction and redistribution of the works shared online, and this may soon see the identity of the original producer lost and others take credit for it. There should be greater regulation of social media use and even in jurisdictions where this has been done, the enforcement of the laws remains challenging due to the difficulty in identifying the violators.[5] Nonetheless, every new concept has its challenges, and these should be taken as part of the challenges facing social media. Additionally, they should not discourage artists from using social media as a mode of communication and dissemination because the advantages outweigh the risks.

            Also, misuse of social media can lead to rejection of an artist or their work by the fans and potential buyers if it is not used responsibly. There have been cases where artists showcase too much of personal or irrelevant details such as family life or their romantic relationships, tiring the fans with information they do not need. In such instances, fans may decide to avoid viewing any content from such artists to avoid their pages altogether, making them to lose out on a major marketing opportunity. However, responsible use of social media can lead to an increase in public rating of individuals, making fans to appreciate and buy their product and invention. Artists should professionally run their social media accounts so that it becomes an advantage. However, the possibility of social media being a negative marketing avenue cannot be used as an excuse to deny its usage.[6].The irresponsible users have themselves to blame if social media turns out to be a source of negative ratings. Therefore, social media is a positive ingredient for the artist.

            Just like any other new invention, social media faces a fair amount of resistance. Some critics describe it as an informal channel of communication, which should be left to informal communications. On the other hand, proponents of social media usage observe that such resistance is usual with new technology or other inventions. Manovich equates this resistance to that which met the invention of the cinema almost one hundred years ago.[7] He states that soon, the artists will realize that the time for full appreciation and application of social media as the primary marketing channel will come and that many will no longer use traditional methods such as newspapers and radio. It is difficult to understand why anyone would resist such an efficient, effective, and low-cost medium of communication and marketing.

            Finally, it is important to point out that the use of social media does not mean that the traditional modes of experiencing art, such as physical visits and the purchase of physical films and paintings should be completely discarded. Art is a personal experience, and everyone should be allowed to experience it in a way which makes the maximum impact to them. There are those who feel that they can only appreciate art by physically handling it. Also, there is some value in physically visiting exhibitions and interacting with art forms and meetings with the artists. Additionally, there are those who want to witness the making of the art, and there are artists who can only design using a traditional camera, or pen and paper formats. Such artists should not be seen to have been overtaken by events, or to be backward and inexperienced. Instead, the different forms of disseminating art should be used in a complementary way. For example, social media can be a very effective way of publicizing a gallery exhibition or the screening of a new movie; so that many people turn up and see the paintings or watch the movie in real forms. Therefore, all the art forms should be used together, although there is general agreement that nothing can compare to social media in cost, speed, spread and efficiency of feedback reception.

            There are many advantages to using social media to promote and disseminate art. Social media is a way of empowering new artists to reach audiences in ways that have never been used before. There are different ways in which artists can use social media, including direct marketing of their work or simply engaging the audience and informing them about the existence of certain works of art. Also, it should be noted that due to current busy lifestyles and the hard economic times, fewer people have the time or resources to visit film halls and exhibition galleries. Social media provides the best channel for artists to bring the art up to the potential clients’ homes or offices. It costs much less to access movies or paintings online, and this will encourage many people and, hopefully, revive the public’s interest in creative art. One can, therefore, conclude that social media is the best platform for artists to use in promoting their work.

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