MA Lidia Sapińska

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What marketing of art should actually look like.                                        

Ever since the emergence of the internet, the bandwidth and speed at which information can be shared, replicated, or transformed has been rapidly changing. A single message can be spread at a pace never before seen in human history. However, as with any process of replication, copying the message by a manifold can lead to unexpected changes (e.g. due to loss in fidelity of replication, or due to contextual factors) creating spreading mutations which outright contradict the original message. Given the enormous speed at which information can be shared now, this may lead to chaos (e.g. the so-called fake news) in which, as has been described by David Berkovitz, information does not follow the evolving social algorithm.

            However, such chaos can be contained. Firstly, this can happen from within through self organization, which is now considered the primary process of hierarchical structuring and emergence of new features in complex systems, from supramolecular chemistry (as described by Lehn) to social systems (according to Wallerstein). Secondly, this can be done intentionally through direct human intervention into the channels of communication and their messages. The marketing tools are, arguably, examples of such manipulations.

            Marketing has been initially construed merely as a means of stimulating consumption of particular goods by communicating their properties through advertisement. However, as the tools developed for marketing products have become more advanced, quantifying the spread and effectiveness of information they generate, their use and aims have changed. Today marketing is no longer understood as a method of ‘inserting’ a product into a market space by making the consumers aware of its existence. Rather, marketing has evolved to be a way of exploiting multiple channels of communication not only to promote the very idea of a product, but to generate the need it is supposed to fulfill, thus generating new markets from scratch (for example, think of the whole ‘lifestyle’ category).

            Traditionally, marketing and art have been thought of as two independent (or even opposing) planes of content creation. Such situation creates asymmetric gains for the two domains. Over the last couple of decades, marketing has fluently appropriated the language of the arts, especially the new media (e.g. think of the performative aspects of guerrilla marketing, etc), effectively stripping them of their uniqueness and authenticity. New media artists, on the other hand, have failed to see the artistic potential of many aspects of social media, user experience design, or targeting and positioning. To most artists these terms sound like they belong to an alien domain, completely devoid of any possibilities for artistic expression and employable only when selling art.

            I want to explore the ways in which artists working within the new media could utilize the tools developed by marketing in order to create and communicate artistic projects. What interests me is whether these tools can help artists to become better in creating new messages and moderating existing messages more efficiently. Of course, some work towards this goal has already been done under a different guise. For example, Didi-Huberman’s work on politicizing images uncovers the relevant process of how a message is constructed and in what relation it stands to the consumer. This, however, can be equally well understood as an analysis of process of product targeting. I’m interested in pushing the envelope and exploring whether a more comprehensive analysis of the language of new media could provide artists with tools to better control the messages they generate and prevent them from becoming corrupted, for example by curators and art merchants. New media, due to their elasticity and transdisciplinar nature, have a tremendous potential for communication, which can be harnessed to create art that will serve as an example of how to consciously and purposefully manipulate information. Establishing a dialogue with the mechanisms of marketing can give artists the tools necessary to keep up with the rapid rate of change in the contemporary information landscape.