Sound Art & Media

Life Offline: When Social Media Hinders Art

social media, facebook, twitter, instagram, sound art, music, art

Painting by: Brent Holland Baker, edited

We have all seen it (and maybe some of us are it)—the show attendee who spends 90% of the concert on their cell phone.  Be it tweeting their whereabouts or instagramming concert photos, this individual would rather experience the music through a palm-sized screen than their own eyes.

Some music festivals have utilized the uproar of social media by having “check-in” stations where one can instantly update their Facebook friends as to what artist they are about to see.  Concepts such as the check-in station speaks to strong components of social media—connectivity and narcissism.

Before this post gets too “glass half empty”, let me say that I am guilty of living life in the waves of social media.  I thoroughly enjoy dipping into digital media for professional and personal (errr, procrastinating) purposes.  I even began my position as a send + receive board member with the desire to create and execute a social media plan for the festival (and yes, the desire is still there).

A major pro for social media is its ability to raise (free!) awareness to your arts practice.  The many channels of social media offer opportunities to reach an audience those in the past never had the ability to.  With that said, I find it hard to truly represent sound art through just social media.

Now the burning question: when does social media evolve from being a help to a hindrance?

A foundation of sound art is the 360 degree sensation of experience. By this I mean artists take into great consideration real-time influences, such as venue and audience, when they are performing.  To view only an instagrammed photo of a sound art show would only allow one dimension of the experience.

It is important to keep in mind that sound artists take specific pride in not just creating sound, but creating a unique experience in listening; an experience that isn’t fully appreciated until it is witnessed in person.  If we are to experience sound art solely through social media, we would be entirely missing a large component of the practice.

With that said, I absolutely believe sound artists and sound art festivals should partake in social media.  This post is written as a reminder for social-media viewers to take others’ uploads with a grain of salt (especially if it pertains to sound art) and for concert attendees to occasionally turn their phones to silent and enjoy life offline.

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