New media in the age of personal growth

  • You’re about due for an intervention.
  • Art as aide, helpmate, council for personal growth.
  • A blog post a day. Two tweets and call me in the morning.

A Motivational Art Intermezzo “Live to be outstanding.” What is new media in the age of the rock ’n roll life coach Anthony Robbins? There is no longer the need to be spectacular. The Situationist critique of the spectacle has won. That would be my assessment of the Anthony Robbins Age in which we now live. Audiences are no longer looking for empty entertainment; they seek help. Art has to motivate—not question, but assist. Art should not primarily reflect, represent, or discover the world but talk to its audience, hit it in the face, so say today’s art marketers. Irony can be a medicine as long as it contributes to the healing process of the patient. Be careful not to offend anyone. Today’s aesthetic experiences ought to awaken the spiritual side of life. Aesthetics are not there for contemplation only. Art has to become (inter) active and take on the role of coaching. In terms of the self-mastery discourse, the 21st century artist helps to unleash the power from within. No doubt, this is going to be achieved with positive energy. Perverse optimism, as Tibor Kalman called it, is needed. Art has to create, not destroy. A visit to the museum or gallery has to fit into one’s personal development program. Art should consult us in transformation techniques and not criticize. In order to be a true experience, the artwork has to be an immediate bodily experience, comparable to the fire walk. It has to be passionate, and should shed its disdain for the viewer, along with its postmodern strategies of irony, reversal, and indifference. In short, artists have to take responsibility and stop their silly plays. The performance artist’s perfect day job is the corporate seminar, building trust and distilling the firm’s core values from its human resources.

Self-management ideology builds on the 1980s wave of political correctness—liberated from a critical negativism that only questioned existing power structures without giving guidance. As Anthony Robbins says, “Live with passion!” Emotions have to flow. People want to be fired up and move out of their comfort zone. Complex references to intellectual currents within art history are a waste of time. The art experience has to fit in and add to the personal growth agenda. Art has to leverage fears and promise guaranteed success. Part therapist, part consultant, art no longer compensates for a colorless life. Instead, it makes the most of valuable resources and is aware of the attention economy in which it operates. In order to reach such higher planes of awareness, it seems unavoidable to admit and celebrate one’s own perverse Existenz. Everyone is a pile of shit and has got dirty hands. Or as Tibor Kalman said: “No one gets to work under ethically pure conditions.” It is at that Žižekian point that art as a counseling practice comes into being. Tired Media Art.

from “Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture” by Geert Lovink

One thought on “New media in the age of personal growth

  1. Raya

    Interesting concept that art is no longer to add color to our lives, but to coach us. It reminds me of my father saying he used to dream in black and white until they got a color TV set, then he started dreaming in color. I would suggest our lives are colorful enough now, perhaps saturated in full color everywhere there is visual media. The coaching is obvious way art is used on Facebook, every graphic has some lesson with it.

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