Visual Art in the Internet Age

written on April 3, 2009

I see six major consequences of the Internet Age to the World of Visual Art. They are:
  • exposure of individual artists
  • interaction of various artists
  • smaller significance of galleries
  • smaller significance of mediums
  • greater significance of visual quality
  • young people's perception of art.
I would like to touch on each briefly below.

Just like in other professions, there have always been artists who could "sell" themselves and those who couldn't, regardless of their talent or the quality of their work. The internet provides a more efficient way of exposing oneself to the world at large. As I have seen with some other artists, hard work both in their art and in their marketing, generally translates into monetary gain and recognition. But there are also those artists who do little for their own exposure and only concentrate on the quality of their work, and sit around waiting for a miracle to bring them recognition. Then there are those who are good at "selling" themselves, but lack quality. 20th century art was run by those people, but they will soon lose their prominence as I describe below.

To continue with the most elevating effect of the internet - at least for me personally - it has brought us the chance to explore and interact. I think it is a wonderful feeling to know that we are not alone in "that" art world. For me the Energy Art Movement is a culmination of this effect, and I can't imagine doing anything that I would be more motivated by when it comes to meeting and promoting genuine artists. I also enjoy meeting young talent, especially on Deviantart. Exploring fellow artists' work, one also gets a good idea of where to improve.

The chance of promoting one's work and interacting with others, adds up to an opposing force to the significance of galleries. Not that they necessarily need to be opposed, it is just an unavoidable consequence. I don't believe that physical commercial galleries will disappear anytime soon though. But it is certain that artists' websites and online marketplaces - for both originals and prints - will be the dominating method of sales in art in the very near future. The people are finding it more and more absurd to visit galleries in person, and instead of traveling they just browse their websites and order online. The same is true for individual artists. So the future will be all about how good you and your work looks on the internet. I also see more and more artist collectives forming, which means artists are realizing that together they stand a greater chance than alone.

As a consequence of the above, the medium in which your artwork was made, will become less significant as well, since only its "image" on the internet and the presentation of it on your website is going to matter. People will buy more and more of their art on the internet, so they will turn to buying prints, besides shopping at marketplaces like Ebay or Etsy for original art. So artists must keep this already occuring transitions in mind, and stay ahead of the wave.

Again as a consequence, the quality and impression of the "image" of the artwork is going to gain greater prominence. The new "judges" of the art world are not the collectors or the gallery owners anymore, but the general public and the young kids on Deviantart. They will soon grow up and with the real art in mind that they saw and collected online, they will sweep aside all the overeducated nonsense of the 20th century, simply by their freedom of choice what to buy, again online. New York is already feeling the transition, and attempts to react by infusing more and more hyper/academic/neo-realism into their repertoire, but even that is not going to work. It is mere backward evolution and a weak attempt. Dalí was right in saying that the art of the future is surrealism, but only an artist or appreciator who has genuine artistic sense, can "see" why.

Young people's perception of art will soon spring forth from their own inner self-confidence. Everyone is born with some level of genuine artistic sense, which later on gets overridden by the opinions/choices/dictation of artists/galleries/collectors and other "respectable" figures who they so far lacked confidence to question. But since children interested in art, will now grow up in an art-saturated internet environment, they will inherently develop confidence in their own opinions, which is founded on their true natural inner artistic sense that cannot mislead them. Whether they will prefer lighter or darker art, they will seek out quality work. And this effect is true for everyone, not just artistically-talented children.

So anyone who has created quality art up to now and from now on, will have a much greater chance to be fairly appreciated by some segment of the public. But we as artists must not forget that our duty lies not only in depicting our visions to the best of our abilities, but also in delivering it to the public through as many channels as we can manage. Self-promotion coupled with talent is not a vice but a virtue. The quality that one strives for, should be interrelated with the confidence one has to promote oneself.

Drug Use in the Artistic Creative Process

written on March 31, 2009

I have been asked to clarify my viewpoints on this issue on various occasions while organizing the Energy Art Movement. In this essay, I would like to summarize and extend my opinions further. I hope that the reader will ponder its points, and find both the truths and flaws either in my ideas or their own.

I am certainly not the movement, and my opinions are not necessarily its principles. The principles of the movement include a neutrality clause which clarifies our collective standpoint over psychedelic substances, such as LSD. This means that their use cannot be promoted on behalf of the movement, nor can it be discouraged. Even outside the movement, I think it should be a private matter for everyone. I personally don't consider the promotion of drug use a good idea, as it can harm the artist's reputation and that of any group they are associated with. These drugs are currently illegal in most countries. Furthermore, it is unfortunate that in visionary art - on behalf of which drug use is often promoted - only a small percentage of artists use drugs for creation, but the overall impression of the outside world is that visionary art is a subset of psychedelic art, when in fact it is the other way around.

The neutrality clause is also meant to leave the movement open to rigorous scientific results of the future. These results might have an effect on some of these drugs' legality. Research may also shed light on the science behind the psychedelic spiritual experience. It is quite possible that in the future, psychedelic substances will become a part of main religions' spiritual practices, once science enlightens us on the precise nature of their effects, and provide us with proper safety precautions. While they can induce wonderful spiritual experiences, and assist us in our inner psychological enlightment, they can also take us to the depths of hell, without us signing up for the "bad trip".

Besides the legal, scientific, and spiritual viewpoints, we must also look at the issue from an ethical viewpoint. There is a fine line of distinction between two ways artists currently use psychedelic substances related to their creative processes. I personally don't consider either to be fully ethical, but I find the first somewhat acceptable. The first method is when an artist takes some psychedelic substance, trips for a while in either their inner or higher realms, and once fully back in reality, intends to share their visions with others in the artworks they create (visual, music, or else). Since interdimensional cameras have not yet been invented, these artists choose to act as photographers of their visions, which I think is ethically acceptable. The second way artists use psychedelic substances, is when they create their works while on smaller doses of drugs, less interested in visiting higher planes, and more in boosting the muscles of their imagination. This is no different than using steroids to boost one's performance in sports, the artists' muscles being their imagination. This second method is clearly unethical, and should be distinguished from the first.

In relation to the above, another point is worth making. Just as in sports, if one has a less-developed musculature, the steroids will only help them boost their performance to a certain extent. They may still be easily surpassed by other sportsmen with much more developed musculature, and not making use of steroids. So a lightweight boxer on steroids might be a match for a middleweight one, but not for one in the heavyweight class. So essentially, if one doesn't strive to develop their muscles through natural means, they will eventually be surpassed. Drugs are an imagined crutch, which may prevent the artist from self-development through natural means, and entering the arena in full vigour. Note that while many like to think that the Fine Arts is not a sports event, you are not likely to succeed if you don't strive to excel in your craft, often with the intention of furthering and surpassing what you have seen before.

I consider the best way to develop one's imaginative muscles to be through meditation and subsequent picturing of realistic/surreal/abstract scenes in one's mind. Meditation results in a crystal clear empty mind, a white canvas for painting one's evolving ideas over it. While in this ideal state, one can try various color schemes and compositions in their mind, and attempt to find the best one for the concept. If one prefers improvising instead, starting with a meditational session will also help them in the flow of ideas as their improvisation evolves on the paper/canvas/screen.

To get back to the issue of drug use promotion among artists, we must not forget the responsibility we have towards budding artists. I find it unfortunate if a well-known visionary artist openly promotes drugs, not only psychedelic ones but others as well, such as ecstasy or marijuana. This is sad because young artists may get the impression that in order to create as accomplished works as their respected idol, they must also reach to drugs. This is certainly false. They may even surpass their idols eventually, using only their natural abilities - as discussed in the fourth paragraph - so young artists must realize and keep this mindset instead. This is the right path towards their personal development, and thus the collective evolution of the Fine Arts to a higher level.

As for why psychedelic art is often energetic, I think the reason is that imagination in its freest form is necessarily dynamic / energetic. In any case, drugs can surely free you up, but I suggest, try to be your own drug instead. As Salvador Dalí said: "I don't do drugs. I am drugs."