The notion of art as virus in the context of a participatory culture – JS

This notion is a reversal of the thesis propagated by the book “At The Edge Of Art” where art and artists are seen to be the antibodies protecting our immune system/cultural sphere. As within the body, a virus (a harmful or corrupting agent) will often mutate within a cell (e.g. fan based media) when it has ceased to become effective, and in doing so becomes more resilient and stronger to forms of attack from antibodies. Digital media has allowed art to be a more fluent and impacting social agent. If art – in the widest possible definition of the term – is seen to be a corrupting agent to participatory culture, it is also because “media ethnography is criticised …for “going native” suggesting that academics cannot be considered fans” (Fans, Bloggers and gamers:Exploring participatory Culture:Henry Jenkins). If we consider “fans learn to use (digital) media resources to increase their visibility and to expand their influence over popular culture” this can be seen as the infection because the “Internet acts as a bloodstream for the social body”. The implication here is that “Fandom” needs to assert its authority within participatory culture so that the reverse is not true – that fans are viruses waiting to mutate and attack (when they are confronted by antibodies, i.e. critics, academics, social commentators) to infect our notion of art !!! – JS

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One Response to The notion of art as virus in the context of a participatory culture – JS

  1. siljatruus says:

    If the organism in the metaphor (used in “Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture” by Henry Jenkins) is considered to be the whole culture, then why are academics the antibodies and fans a virus and not the other way around? If antibodies’ function is to protect the integrity of the organism, then their mission is doomed anyway. It needs to change in order to survive. There is a theory of evolution that claims that organisms have developed as symbiosis of different bacteria, so the different functions of organism – that at this particular moment in the evolution is considered as an independent whole – are descendants of different colonies of bacteria. We could say that academics need to be kept under control by fandom in the interest of the culture as whole. As Jenkins said, “media scholars have long sought to escape the stigma of fandom, often at the expense of masking or even killing what drew them to this topic in the first place”, which indicates that they might be the dead cells, without real life force, motivation, emotion, etc.

    The metaphor of art as antibodies described in “At The Edge Of Art” is apt in the first few stages or functions, i.e. perversion, arrest, revelation, execution, but what happens when the new idea or collective meme has been recognised and made a public knowledge by endless replication? Does that make it harmless to the social body? Contrary to antibodies in biological organism, art does not possess the inherent “truth”. If body wants to survive and therefore needs to kill every foreign/new entity it finds in itself, what is the goal of social body? I have a feeling that every subculture/social force that has claimed to know that ultimate goal or truth has been proved at least incorrect, if not harmful to humanity. Participatory culture that internet ables, be it art-based or other, is useful for recognising new memes and warning against them but it does not have an power of judgement. That is still up to every individual.


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