The Spirit of the Times
This topic has been spread over a few weeks for groups created on the first day and as a class. I was placed into the Ethical group and we have had some very interesting discussions about our thoughts and feelings about not only our own ethics as artists living now but also those of society in general.
As we are a part of the society around us we can not help being influenced and affected by what goes on around us and how people are living in it. It may be in the form of modifying our life to conform or rejecting what we see to follow our own “path”.
Below are some of the points raised by each group as we talked when getting together later.
We had a lively discussion about the impact of social media on our lives and how it can create a superficial representation of yourself to the world. We also talked about the changing society in Australia and worldwide due to the sped of technical change.
- Do we need a huge quantity of contact or “friends” on social media or is it a type of ego thing?
- Aim for approval due to media influence
- Anonymity behind computers and disconnection from direct contact with people a way of controlling people’s perception of us
- The facelessness of the technical age
- The growing need for community groups and gardens for example to start bringing people together in person again
The political discussion could have become quite lively but we kept it on topic! Some voiced the opinion that they had no real political interests as they felt they had nothing to say and no issue that they wanted to address. Others said that they were mildly involved and were happy to vote when required to have their say. All seems to agree that we live more in a commercial society rather than a democratic one, even though politics has such a large influence in all our lives in one way or another as we all have governments in our council, state and country etc.
- Where does politics fall in peoples’ busy lives?
- Do we really have any influence over our elected politicians?
- Do people lack the drive to voice their opinions these days or are many too time poor?
- It is sometimes difficult to see the truth or facts because of media bias and people bending facts to suit agendas
- Do we vote because we want to or because we have to in Australia?
ETHICAL: (MY GROUP) WHAT WORDS DESCRIBE IT.
We discussed the idea that artists are freer in recent times to express their art and themselves than before. There is less infliction of regulation and social confines even in the “nanny state” political atmosphere we seem to be entering at the moment. Artists create their own codes of conduct and ethics rather than having them imposed. We do also however have the “want vs need” society that we live in which can be very self-centred. In contrast we can decide not to indulge in this way of thinking and as artists represent ourselves and our art in a more transparent manner. We no longer have a church or government telling us what to paint or how to do it. We no longer have to hide what we are truly like as people – as long as we are obeying the “laws of the land”. People know who and what they are dealing with in general, so even though to some we may be in a more “immoral or less religiously spiritual era” in some sense it may have better ethics.
- Throw away society
- Impatience (I want everything now)
- Debt and living beyond means
- Blurring of borders of society and the world
- Loss of individual cultural identity
- Loss of respect for individual achievement (tall poppy syndrome)
- Lack of understanding of how we represent ourselves to the world and how to communicate to it
With so many cultures living all a round the world now, we don’t have people living next to each other with the same sets of beliefs as may have been the case over fifty years ago. As Australia grows and more people from other countries come to make it their home, how are we thinking about our own spirituality and how we express it in our art and in our lives?
I asked if there is a need in us to see ourselves as more than the vessel we inhabit. As artists do we call on a higher part of ourselves, a spirit or mind that is beyond the physical? Can we tap into something like what I described as “channeling the spirit of Turner” for example, as I sometimes feel like an influence beyond myself had a lot to do with the creation of a painting. We use the word inspiration, which describes an idea blossoming and growing into an invention or creation, what is that if not a spiritual experience?
- Disinterest in traditional formal religions
- Openness to other beliefs
- Freedom to think and believe as we wish
- For some the materialistic society around us is filling the gap that “church” did years ago (retail therapy)
- Generic “spirituality” becoming to norm more for many who see ritualised religion as hypocritical and for less educated or cultured societies