Transitional Technology and Art

The theories behind the Gartner Hype Cycle and “First Word Art / Last Word Art” by Michael Naimark both attempt to address how new creations make an impact on our society.

The Gartner Hype Cycle is an annual, calculated curve that shows how particular inventions trend through five phases of popularity. These stages basically describe how a breakthrough product starts gaining popularity exponentially and reaches its peak with success before consumers start realizing the downfalls of the product. After losing popularity, there is a point where the product is produced very cheaply, but may gain more attention as its applications begin to evolve. From there, the product can reenter the market at a steady rate of productivity.

Source: Gartner August 2013

In the MIT Media Conversations Series, Jack Schulze voiced how he preferred to work in the “Trough of Disillusionment”, where products have lost most of public interest and are mass produced cheaply. He favors this trough because there is interest in the dull, disregarded mechanisms that have the appeal of affordability and quantity. I can side with his point of view because I am more attracted to the hidden potential of an object overlooked rather than a shiny new toy. Then again, that could be my hipster side speaking.

First Word Art / Last Word Art, on the other hand describes how the two most popular types of art tend to be the groundbreaking, new age pieces, or timeless works that are built upon established and accepted form. Personally, I don’t really believe there can truly be a First Word or Last Word Art because artists are constantly inspired by each other in cycles. I recently read the book,
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, and it basically says great artists draw endlessly from the ideas of other artists. So how can there be a true first and last word art? But I can agree that there are some artists that are constantly pushing for radical, fresh concepts, and others who gradually gain respect through their masterful conquering of an established style. What unifies these two extremes is the fact that these artists are making an identity for themselves that will continue to drive future generations.

Here is a TED Talk by Austin Kleon:

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