Judging by the plethora of “RIP Steve Jobs” that have gushed into my news feeds, it seems many of my Facebook friends have replaced art with technology in their lives.
Or rather, have replaced adoration of the creative artist with adoration of the technological avatar. Today, that miraculous mandarin is Steve Jobs.
Whether this cultural shift from passive consumption of art to passive participation in digital social media is really a significant sociological event remains to be seen, but this altered paradigm has definitely created new heroes and new has-beens.
Beatles versus Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson versus Prince, or Lady Gaga versus Beyonce — passive popular culture has always responded to a dualistic manufactured consumer choice.
No Coke, Pepsi. But the new digital age — with its fundamental binary electrons — demands it.
In this case, Steve Jobs was the underdog challenger to the poor-little-rich computer magnate everyone loves to hate, Bill Gates.
Gates is arguably more important in the democratic shift to self-absorbed self-expression via accessible digital technology, but Jobs made it pseudo-sexy, and he also put a bit of good old-fashioned elitism back into the mix of this new, egalitarian digital age — a vestigial reaction derived from the olden days when the artist was king, and the medium his minion.
This is obviously no longer the case. The medium is no longer simply the message, it’s also the text, the email, the post and the tweet. The people have spoken, and they value technology supreme.
Authors, post your musings on Facebook like the rest of us proletariats. Composers, anyone can record a classic techno-punk requiem with Pro Tools. Visual artists, our high-speed, high-def digital photos look better than your hand-developed prints and clumsy paintings.
And the poetry of the digital future, such as haiku, will be based on strict structural rules, or rather, one unhackable dogma — only 140 characters allowed.
I have never valued graffiti as high art so much as right now. Graffiti will never be digitized.