A Great Period of Recalibration

Molly Sheridan reports from the 61st Annual Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, CO. Writing in her Mind the Gap blog, she says that discussions have revolved around certain themes:

The world is in a great period of recalibration–not only economically,
but socially, politically, and technologically. In the technology
sphere, media creators (pro and amateur and combinations in between)
are evolving in terms of the stories they tell and the many
sophisticated methods they can now choose to use to tell them; the
consumers are changing their habits and standards right along side
them. After a period of happy, shiny gadgetry, we’re also looking more
closely at what our technology does and how it can be refined to meet
our needs better. Though admittedly it may be a little scary sometimes,
everything is in play, and so it is a vital time of experimentation
that is best embraced rather than feared–maybe now is the time to take
a lesson from the past and not jump to judgment about the evils of
evolutionary change.

Many other people, myself included, have made similar predictions. (Andrew Taylor, for instance, just yesterday.) Really, all we’re doing is extrapolating from a phenomenon that has occurred in business, particularly high technology, over all the economic downturns since the Great Depression. New businesses emerge as dominant players during times of economic duress, from Penguin Books during the Great Depression to Google during the 2001-02 recession. You don’t have to subscribe to Marxist notions of base/superstructure relations to assume that economic change will cause upheavals in the arts and culture.

Sheridan doesn’t detail what any of these changes will look like. I may be blinkered by my immersion in the writings of Walter Benjamin, but my feeling is that one version or another of baroque allegory will emerge as a predominant aesthetic form over the next five years or so. I’m currently looking for examples.

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