Who will save us in now? Journalists? Nah! Artists will.
If you’re a journalist tread with caution. The future isn’t what it used to be. The words you’ve been using may have rusted into blunt instruments against clever insouciant subjects. Too much of it, cognitive overload, has reduced its value. Facts and logic neuroscientists like Tali Sharot of the Influential Mind do nothing to turn us.
‘When you provide someone with new data’ she writes, ‘they quickly accept evidence that confirms their preconceived notions (what are known as prior beliefs) and assess counter evidence with a critical eye.
If rationale was the phenomenal antidote to religious and irrational dogma 300 years ago, in this century, we’ve finally arrived and acknowledge there has to be a third way. In this grey area artists explore between logic and expression and no amount of artificial intelligence is the final arbiter. Meanwhile as each day passes you’re being led by dead cats on tables and squirrels darting across news agendas — a sleight of hand.
News, a construct, yes a construct, has come to inherit confirmation bias, elitists’ views, and a narrative that bends reality, normalising notions of unacceptable behaviour. Where else in human behaviour can you look at the plight of people dying, and like wildlife photographers stand by, and adamantly express the need that nature must take its toll.
The future lives in the minds of dreamers, idealists, and artists e.g. student mocking up Trumps words . Journalism isn’t dead but in its current form its atrophying — not fit for purpose, but it plays a blinding waiting game. Like the arms race, it has embedded itself into human psyche robustly defending its need for existence. Without journalism telling us stories we’re doomed, yet there are millions of people around the world devoid of its intoxicating effects.
‘Yeah…Yeah.. I could see it coming. It was always meant to be’, we end up saying with piquant 2020 vision. Coincidence takes on the veneer of determinism. We need a different form of storyteller whom uses emotion to bear witness. We need a different form of medium ( is it 360) to jolt us out of our complacency.
Can we tell what we’ll be saying a year from now?
As 2017 rolls out its carpet we hesitantly walk its path. In, ‘The future isn’t what it used to be’, a speech delivered by Steve Jobs at a 1983 design conference, Apple’s co-founder extolled simplicity. Our approach, he said in Walter Isaacson’s book: Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography will be:
Very Simple, and we’re really shooting for Museum of Modern Art quality. The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple.
Job’s concept of the modern world was lifted from his fascination with Bauhaus, a design philosophy originating in 1920s Germany that affected architecture, furniture, craftsmanship, art and society.
It was a ‘thoroughgoing romantic yearning for unity and harmony in autonomous shared work’, which was ‘dedicated to art and faith’, says Andreas Haus in Bauhaus: History. ‘Less is More’, ‘form follows function’ and ‘God is in the detail’, said its scions Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van de Rohe.
Though this aesthetic has spearheaded Apple, invigorating its many disciples (in 1999 I travelled purposefully to the US to buy my first powerbook then boarded the next plane home) 2017 could hardly be more pressing for an upgrade of, among others, Bauhaus’ principles.
Those other movements, speaking at Apple store London, include Impressionism — a faithful attempt at the recalibration of then 19th century rule-governed reality. The most powerful controllers of content the French Academy who were the MSMs of their day designed what audience could see.
Paintings needed to be life-like in form, empowering VIPs, and on message. Then these proto — Star War’s rebellions (impressionists) came along. A radically different presentation of truth and realism would gradually ( Impressionists were ridiculed and ostracised first) take hold of society.
Bauhaus, like Impressionism, less a movement, more way of life, is prone to a characterisation of the application of clean lines and haptic functionality, and art that captures fleeting light and small gestures, respectively.
But Bauhaus original was a reaction to political and economic elitism, militarism that had absorbed art and craft for industrialisation (WWI), and the iniquities of demagogue elected officials. ‘Form follows function’ and ‘less is more’, are invariably wielded out by experts as universal truths, but they were reactions to what Bauhaus aficionados saw as unpalatable ostentatious elitist practices at that time.
Design then can assume an approach to fulfil a motive, to create solutions and invariably ask questions. There is Art in journalism too, yet too often it’s lost, or ignored by processors, or those that follow mechanistic paths of creation. It’s the reason PR, politicians and lobbyists have journalism over a barrel. It’s predictable.
I like to talk about designing news, documentaries, mobile and cinema journalism in the vein of impressionism, or Bauhaus. These aren’t fixed aesthetics, but a reaction to the status quo, yet enveloping recognisable design principles.
The production of these forms involve design processes in which the innovative artists we come across open themselves to seeing how ideas translate from one discipline to another. Impressionism emerged from Japanese Woodblock painting, cubism from Nigerian masks.
If Bauhaus’ inception sounds like 2017, French poet and essayist Paul Valéry’s 1937 essay recycles the future, with his, the future isn’t what it used to be, stating:
The future, like everything else, is no longer quite what it used to be. … We used to consider the unknown future as a simple combination of already known things, and the new was analyzed according to its unoriginal elements. But that is ended. …[T]he rules of the game are changed at every throw. No calculation of probabilities is possible. … Why? Because the … modern world is assuming the shape of man’s mind. Man has sought in nature all the means and powers that are necessary to make the things around him as unstable, volatile, and mobile as himself, as admirable, as absurd, as disconcerting and prodigious as his own mind. … If … we imprint the form of our mind on the human world, the world becomes all the more unforeseeable and assumes the mind’s [own] disorder.
Art and Innovation in some context then becomes that which happens when history comes around again, and affected generations have no memory of its original presence. It thus masquerades as original. Within innovation, new invention is what gives that reality a new spike.
In 2017, as MSM continue to talk to their own, recycling Fake News debates, helming information that control the status quo or rubbish Social Media, politics and economics once again come full circle.
It’s the 1920s again. History tells the future, art and innovation is ripe for its next revolution. What will be saying in 2018?
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah from the Digital and Interactive Storytelling LAB, at the University of Westminster, talks about the Cinema Journalism movement — a group of storytellers who are platform agnostic absorbing tech to create factual cinema. (see 2 minute promo below)