On account of the Internet and technological development, everyone is not only an artist today, but also a curator (of his- or herself), who projects various identity-shaping self-images within the myriad of communication channels now available. But, in the so-called attention economy, what exactly determines what will not become lost or submerged? Who are the gatekeepers whose contemporary concern is no longer who has access, but rather, what becomes available, and whose ostensible authority over content by no means makes specialists or harbingers of mystery of them but allows them, instead, to shape public opinion and derive symbolic capital from their role? And is the attention span people are now willing to devote to any one thing not constantly shrinking? Artists, for example, may well react with a shrug when one tells them their work has been done before, elsewhere, by someone else – but if one follows up by pointing out that their work therefore deserves only scant attention, or possibly none at all, one immediately reaps a storm of protest. One may accordingly identify the originary as an effect of curating. Or one may set about tracking down the last refuges of the as yet unheard of, given that aimless surfing, autopoietic generation of contexts and artefacts, and the permanent rewriting of personal archives often cut information exchange adrift from intentional creativity, until the unexpected arises. One should thereby on no account overlook those who not only make use of communication channels, but actually also attempt to rewrite the foundations of communication itself. The process of developing such qualitatively new relationships with culture, whose effects cannot yet be foreseen, gives rise to the question not least of how anything new may ever emerge if we perpetually exhaust ourselves showing others what we have just found. But perhaps the new and the originary have long since become impossible.
Ellen Blumenstein is the curator of KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin and a member of the curatorial collective The Office.
Few living American poets have so thoroughly absorbed, and cleverly responded to, the avant-garde traditions in visual art and poetry - including Dada, Futurism, Concretism, Fluxus, and Conceptual Art - as Kenneth Goldsmith. With influences ranging from John Cage and Andy Warhol to contemporary hip hop and internet artists, Goldsmith has pushed the limits of late twentieth century poetics to both reinvigorate and pioneer aspects of visual poetry, sound poetry, the list poem, and digital poetics.
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