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For years now numerous observers have described the process by which the very fundaments of art are changing from the old principle of one man, one creation. Songs have remixes through which anyone so disposed can alter the original music; videos have mash-ups that use footage to reposition and change the original meaning; the visual arts have communal canvases and websites; poetry has Flarf, which allows one to generate verse from random words; , and books have collages, like David Shields’ recent “Reality Hunger,” which was assembled entirely, paragraph by paragraph, out of other authors’ words. Recombinant art is the rage.

…What Wiki-Culture does is dislodge culture from its moorings in art, history, tradition, knowledge, even time and space, and set it afloat either in the ether or in our own consciousness. Traditional culture is memorialized on the page, the CD, the stage or the screen. Wiki-Culture, which is constructed by nearly everyone and is extremely ephemeral, is memorialized, to the extent it is memorialized at all, in our heads and nowhere else. It is there on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter et al, and then it isn’t…these things barely survive outside our own reception and memory…

…That is the direction toward which Wiki-Culture is nudging art. When every book, via Kindle or the iPad, becomes a raw source for the reader to reorganize and edit what he or she reads; when every song becomes a raw source for a remix; when every film or video becomes a raw source for some customized mash-up; and when traditional art itself becomes a symbol of antiquated cultural control, the collaboration is everything, the resulting object very little. In such a world, art may still exist, but we won’t always know exactly where to find it, which can be a scary prospect.

Technology changes how art is created and perceived

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