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Audiences Outnumber Individuals · 30 June 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

As I observed last month in a comment on Rob Myer’s blog, if mass media didn’t have such an entrenched mindset that it was in the business of selling copies to the largest audience possible, it wouldn’t end up producing such ‘lowest common denominator’ pulp to meet such an objective.

But then this is what happens when you let mass producers determine what gets mass produced – instead of leaving things to peculiar artists in pure pursuit of art. Moreover, peculiar artists patronised by their peculiar audiences directly, rather than by populist publishers of copy-prohibited content via retail.

Now that the bottom is falling out of the market for copies, we are seeing the original market resume – the market for art. In this more natural market, copies are made by the audience – for why would they pay the artist for such an unimaginative task? The artist is rewarded for their irreproducible art, not the mass production of trivially reproducible copies.

This is not news to Vin Crosbie who has committed strikingly similar heresy that I wholeheartedly endorse. Read his keynote at the Second Annual Global Conference on Individuated Newspapers.

Plainly, for every artist and each of their works of art there is an audience (if only the artist themselves). But, whilst we are all artists and are all unique beings, our interests invariably overlap and we find ourselves members of many audiences. Indeed, there is a world of audiences, not just one – not just that like-minded planet the corporate publishers pretend to be serving. What’s more, the number of audiences in this world of audiences vastly outnumbers the population of individuals upon this Earth (see Metcalfe’s Law). Therefore, incredible as it may seem, there are many audiences out there for which no artist has yet produced art.

Big Buck Bunny is just a glimpse of the diversity of art that will prosper when the artist no longer pursues the greatest audience, but instead pursues the greatest art. All peculiar audiences then pursue their particular art and those peculiar artists who produce it – and this is the natural order of things.

At the end of our 300 year obsession with copies and their artificial sanctity, we now see the dawn of the second renaissance.

gurdonark said 5140 days ago :

The appeal of the new technology goes well beyond the IP/PD debate, of course. The use of PD or liberally licensed work among people transcends the old audience/artist distinctions. The audience may, in mail art form, be fellow artists. The audience may be an audience of one. The artist may create for an audience of 12, rather than 240,000. In analog technology this was possible, but in digital technology it is inevitable.

Lately, I enjoy creating tiny, child-like melodies for 30 second videos of birds at a feeder for a friend in Spain, to be posted on youtube. I use a CC license to avoid encumbering this sharing with undue burdens—I could easily imagine using a PD release as to my own music on this.
The goal is not to reach the world or profit from my venture—but to provide roughly 100 viewers with light enjoyment, in 30 seconds.

This renaissance is inevitable even if not one jot of current law is changed, so long as volunteers are willing to create this new media.



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