Similarly to how social media collapsed high and low culture into a sinuous, middling unibrow; it made room for the fringe to graze the mainstream while allowing outliers and niche practitioners a foot in the door. Though institutional barriers to entry persist, a new art world has never been more possible. It would however be blinkered to consider it only in terms of finished and sanctified outputs; which often makes parameters of fault lines ripe for the pushing. Because it’s structural, the revolution won’t be televised until it’s irreversible and given us its first, fixed forms. The bet is safe, though: anticipate swerves wherever generalised crisis meets new media, patronage and deep shifts in values. The history of the avant-garde has never been more forward-facing.
My previous blogchain covered the surge in agile independent presses that support experimental writing through fictile business models; with a reach faster and more global than anything even their most explosive predecessors could have matched for mere technology and connectivity. The jury’s out as to whether these presses can or will attain real market and / or mythic penetration, though the signs are favourable (Fitzcarraldo Editions, for instance, was established in 2014 and has twice-proven Nobel olfaction.) Examples can also be found in the digital arts, where platforms like SuperRare permit the social collection of tokenised originals on the Ethereum blockchain. Spaces like SuperRare are the undertheorised arrowheads in the emergence of complete ecosystems for art production and consumption that may soon give the gallery circuit a run for its money. The decentralised ledger could become the double-entry bookkeeping of art collection.
Convergent evolution is behind the efflorescence of genres that didn’t hit their unsuspected stride until quite recently; the most outstanding of which may be paleoart, a fascinating case spanning the history of human self-regard from evolution to post-humanism. Its archives are increasingly available in ways that promote the relational study of the scientific and artistic imaginations, their methodological friction and combinatory magic. Paleoart is basically an OS-cum-artform, closer in spirit and experimental nature to automata than illustration. Taschen’s 2017 Paleoart confirmed that it had finally transcended the scope of the natural history museum and the elementary school library. It’s furthermore possible that the synthetic shaping of prehistory through art and science over 200 years may encode some lineaments for representation as we face a sixth mass extinction event. The future could be fossil-fuelled.