Open Source Art Is Good, Really Good

Posted by on Friday, April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

For over a billion people worldwide, today is Good Friday. Theological explications of this are the domain of Wikipedia, not the MakerBot Blog. However, Good Things in general are certainly within our purview.

Today we will feature things that are Good, like this:

What you’re looking at isn’t just incredible art on an iPad. It’s incredible open source art on an iPad! There’s a really nice piece at the Creators Project Blog that explains what it is about open source art that’s so cool.

Traditionally, iconic artists are upheld as innovators of the visual language of their time and we celebrate their genius because the myth goes that they came up with it alone, locked up in their garret studios (think Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso). Modernist painter Mark Rothko was so protective of his arcane process that he never showed one single studio assistant the entire method. This “solitary genius” myth largely holds to present day, but it’s a fundamentally dangerous assumption that causes artists to be analyzed outside of their social context and one that is getting harder and harder to maintain in the age of the internet. Open source dismantles this notion, demonstrating more than ever that artists never work in a vacuum.

Tagged with , , , 4 comments

4 Comments so far

  • T. Shawn Johnson
    April 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Right, so let’s not celebrate the genius of any artist because of the myth of a myth.

    While we’re at it, let’s not celebrate anyone’s genius … Da Vinci, Tesla, Mozart, Einstein, and that Hawking guy .. nothing more than a cultural sponge on wheels. I’m sure that the Penrose-Hawking singularlity theorem would have been exactly the same should it have only been postulated by Penrose.

    I have to tell you that it burns me to see such a negative attitude towards excellence in the arts via the banner of something as well meaning and useful as Open Source.

    I suppose, however, the quote from Creators Project Blog does show the current cultural pulse with regards to a lack of appreciation for art and artists. And this is not a Good Thing.

  • T. Shawn Johnson
    April 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    An extra note – I went to the Creators Project Blog post referenced here. There were some good things said there. Some exciting things about where creativity is headed…. But why it must be tainted with the typical moral judgments towards artists and their choices that always seems to crop up in Open Source discussions is beyond me.

  • Andrew
    April 9, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Thanks very much for your comments. I thought the wording above, i.e. “fundamentally dangerous…” was a little strong! But the idea still makes sense to me: that truly great artists certainly innovate the artistic language of their time, but not within a vacuum, and isolating a single artist makes it difficult or even impossible to understand the significance of the innovation itself. Probably anyone who understands art and art criticism (a set I don’t consider myself a member of!) understands that very well, but perhaps the masses don’t. I read the quoted portion above to mean not that there are no geniuses out there, but that there are more geniuses than we recognize.

    I think you are very right that the critical stance toward artists who choose not to work in an open source way probably does no one any good. But do you think it’s a fair notion that more individuals thrive and can be recognized for their individual contributions in an open source environment?

  • T. Shawn Johnson
    April 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I think it’s definately a fair notion that creativity and celebration of art and artists can thrive in an open source environment.

    The problem is, we aren’t yet at a point where most folks who are benefitting from Open Source, are treating this environment in the way that it was intended.

    I’ve come up with a scale:

    At one end of the scale, there are the open source gurus, who truly grasp what open source is, what it can be, and the etiquette of gratefulness that exists within it. This end of the scale is too quiet. They need to speak up for their values, because in doing so they educate and define a direction on the moral compass of a cultural movement.

    and then…

    At the other end there are the pirates in open source clothing, who take what they can get from open source, exploit it, and expect it within an atmosphere of entitled appropriation..

    Most of us are in between, swayed by the attitudes of either extreme. However, the latter end of the scale, in my opinion, is currently far too vocal.


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