Social norms never just settle; artists must negotiate them, says Alan Jacobs

In this essay from the Atlantic, Jacobs is primarily concerned with the duel between online and offline realities. We can take comfort, he says, that this is not a new battle. Artists mediate space between the real and unreal. Always have, always will.

I also appreciate his popular treatment of a trend that is somewhat unpopular among artists. “Perhaps in that sense the optimistic view that all of us are becoming creators is really true,” he writes.

Social media gives everyone online the opportunity to at least act like an artist. It may be unsettling for a certain artistic ego, but it’s a boon for those who teach creative practice and a new knife edge for those pressing their disciplines.

There’s new territory for artists in his notion of recalibration, too. Historians mediate the facts and stories of the past. Artists repurpose its tools. Jacobs calls it a “fetishization of the offline.” I think that’s a bit harsh. I’m excited for the new era of the printing press and the sewing machine, not for their outdatedness but for what they are still becoming in the online world.

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About Anne L'Ecuyer

Anne is a strategist, facilitator and consultant who stays closely connected to an international network of city leaders, cultural professionals, and individual artists. She is an expert in the creative industries and cultural tourism in the United States, as well as the contributions of the arts toward educational, social, and environmental goals.
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