Are Social Media Influencers the Artists of the 21st Century?

In the 21st century’s globalized culture digitality gains more and more space. Contemporary artists often use digital techniques to convey their message. Is it possible in this technology-based society that high and low art can mix in a phenomenon that you wouldn’t consider art at first sight?

Social media networks created the so-called 'Influencer' phenomenon. They are people who use these sites to gain a huge amount of followers and share their lifestyle, philosophy and ideas with them. Wannabe philosophers upload their homemade video pieces about makeup, films, and trends. How is it compatible with contemporary art? Firstly, we should examine how these art pieces get into the cycle of culture. Nowadays all artists need at least one facebook and one Instagram account. Most of the spectators meet contemporary art mainly from photos of the gallery events shared online. This is the same platform used by makeup experts and date coaches, basically, anyone who has a camera and opinion about something. But they have the power to reach a huge amount of people and shape their opinion about our society. Artist's intention is often the same and the border between their conveyed message is very narrow in some cases.

So, does it mean that all influencers are artists? The problem is the same as it was the in the 2nd part of the 20th century between low and high art. Not all works made in the streets could become part of the high culture, but we can see some examples, like Banksy who became a well-known contemporary artist from the streets of London. This is the same inversely. Graffiti art was influenced by the topics of high culture.

Today this mixture happens online. High art galleries use the same platforms as virtual opinion leaders. Their topics meet on the same platform and affect each other. In addition, the preferences of the platforms affect the spectators' perception and influence creators to make short meaningful videos. People consume a lot of pictures a day and need some guidance to find the closest style to them. Influencers, artists and art organizations, such us online galleries can help them to find to most suitable topics to them.

written by Veronika SZENDRŐ


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