One of digital art’s defining characteristics is its insistence on deskilling the art-making process. The implication behind this deskilling is that it is an inherently rebellious gesture upending the traditional hierarchy of value in art: speed, intensity, and accumulation overtake traditional hand crafts. The spotlight shifts from the privileged few, high up in their ivory towers, and onto the common folk. The category of artist seems to widen to include more participants from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. From the first 35mm camera to the early days of YouTube, the promise technology continues to make rings eerily close to a threat from an overbearing boss: You can be productive from anywhere, anytime. In fact, anyone can.
The marketing term “prosumer” is symptomatic of post-Fordism’s shift from an economy based on industrial labor to one driven by deskilled service. The consumer is not just a mindless cog in the system but also a cultured producer/professional capable of making art.
The do-it-all ethos is shapes our contemporary labor as well as our devices; we want well rounded versatility in everything. In this way, the term “software”, I think, is a worthwhile cultural object to analyse. In this celebration of infinitely malleable software, one can parse through a vast network of cultural fantasies, projections, and delusions concerning modernity.
With this in mind, I would like to treat the cultural objects mentioned (prosumer and software) as material vulnerable to critical bastardisation. It is important that we steal words and change them irreversibly.