Convergence in the Streets

22Nov11

Convergence on the streets

This is an interesting academic article I came across while researching for the upcoming paper.  It looks at our convergence culture through the lens of street graffiti art.  It asks us to think about the tension between commercialization of creative work and noncommercial aesthetic cultural production.  The author attempts to integrate this once thought of counter-cultural artistic phenomenon into Richard Florida’s idea of the Creative City.  She refers to Bansky as a key example of this.  She perceives his “brandalism” as a form of branding and self-marketing.  Obviously, one has to raise the issue of his anonymity.  Is his anonymity not a critique on this idea of self-branding? I’m sure that most street artist are repelled by the notion of selling their art.  They too live in anonymity but choose not to profit from their work as part of their artistic expression.

She seems to get the rest right.  She presents street artists within a continuum of appropriators and re-mixers feeding off of each-others’ creative output.  Street art is a necessary engine for other creative output, much like other art.

Her discussion on authenticity, marketing, and “selling out” is seems to be the crux of her argument.  She says “Crucial to the convergence of creativity and commercial culture is, ironically, the maintenance of a distinction between authenticity and the commercial, especially in terms of crafting personal identity that is expressed as a kind of ‘freedom’ from state power. Maintaining the distinction between authentic creativity and commercialized industry in turn maintains the idea that there is a space outside of the market in which authenticity can take root and flourish, a cultural space that has somehow escaped capitalism’s bold, unapologetic strategies and bullying.”

-Charles Palys

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