I love TED talks. If you don’t know what TED talks are, here’s the skinny: TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It’s a non-profit organization that gives a forum to amazing speakers to talk about anything. Well, I say anything. I mean articulately expressed ideas about experiences and philosophies and ideas. A sharing forum. Some I do believe mean to change the world, others are just another point of view that you may or may not agree with. I highly recommend just perusing TED talks.
Amanda Palmer recently did a TED talk entitled “The Art of Asking”. She was talking about how she was allowing her audience to regulate her music; letting them decide how much they would pay for an album or a song. A lot of people have accused her of encouraging piracy and against those that make their living in the music industry (and she addresses this, so I’m not going to really talk about that part).
But the part that struck a chord with me was how she said:
For most of human history… artists have been a part of the community. Connectors. Communicators. Not untouchable stars.
She talks about how “celebrity” is this idea of distance between the public and recognition for one’s art.
No one ever questions why we have art. But many see it as the first expendable thing when it’s time to cut off something. And you do not need art to live, if by living you are doing so in the very basic way: from meal to meal without any plan. Art is considered a form of higher function. To destroy is easy. Destruction comes naturally. Creation as well, but less so. It’s harder and therefore most people do not pursue that path.
Some people see the collection of art as power. And in art history it’s easy to see, the richest classes (i.e. – the most powerful) control art. They are the ones commissioning art, the art that we remember and define civilizations by. Art is all we know about some histories. And because of horrible acts like an iconoclasm, we will never have whole stories.
The internet and the ways that we can access art is changing. Amanda has found a way to make a living through her art, without dictating how her audience can be a part of her art. Amateurs with enough time, passion and resources can become successful without the middle man (labels, publishers, etc.). Not to say that those can’t still help, but really it’s being able to make your own creations known without someone else telling you “what sells”.
It’s a complete buyers market, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle sometimes. But it’s out there. And there are communities dedicated to giving a boosts to artists. And this is amazing!
It made me think (once again) about my writing and how I’ve let it fall to the wayside. I keep on thinking about picking things back up, but I can’t help but hate everything I write. Maybe I’ll just listen to Amanda’s TED talk every day.