What has happened over the past two centuries is the degradation of traditional human artistic skills. This is not by a failure of education, culture or goals but quite the opposite. Traditional art, that is, functional art – mimesis of an underlying empirical reality has decayed in the advent of machinery.
The aforementioned machinery is of course, the photographic process. The creation and subsequent ubiquity of an infallible mirror has led to the relegation of art to a purely creative task.
There is no reason to assume this singular occurrence is just that, singular. The usurpation of artistic merit by sterile and unadulterated machines, will continue as long as the human race remains human. Conversely, so will this very human search for creative fulfillment – at least in part through the obsolescence of its own means.
In the aftermath of this relocation of purposes, artistic movements came and passed – divergently evolved schemes for escaping the trap of pre-photographic thinking. Art no longer emphasized mimesis, but the idea. The skill of capturing the essence of the message remained of value irrespective of the development, it was a mere shift in recognition of rote activity to the sequence of capture, adaptation and expression.
Fiction, the paramount of human creation, whereby a mind visualizes a world entirely novel for dissipation throughout the meme pool, has always been intricately tied with the skill of presentation. The ability for a creative type to convey an idea through the skill of labor has always been the ostensible basis for social determination of respect and adoration. For the mere idea detracts from the skill of the true artisans, who take pride in implementation.
Of course this has always been a valid stance. It comes logically that society and indeed, culture itself, values those who produce the most profound impact. With no alternative, the profound realizations are propagated exclusively by those holding the skill to demonstrate it. The mere act of influencing culture can not be defined tautologically, thus the only logical position the, ultimately misconceived, notion – the importance of skill precedes the value of a mere idea.
What then, arises when the intrinsically bound ties between skill and impact are severed? But most importantly, what advancements may bring forth such a paradigm shift? What is the device which will do unto the remains of the artistic process, what has already fated a prior – more civilized – generation?
Art, indeed, any medium has never been a goal, not ever a state in itself. Art has always needed a purpose, be it functional or abstract. It has been a means to an end. That end is, and always has been, the conveyance of an idea. As a means to an end, it is a commodity, and ultimately generic – suitable for substitution. Certain mediums are a better fit for specific classes of content, but all of this pales in comparison to the true ideal.
The progress of information has always been a matter of abstraction. From tactile-visual cues, spoken language and to written word, the progression is from interpretation to denotation as ambiguity is isolated. Certainly the final stage of this progression, a technological one at that, is one which eliminates any sense of ambiguity.
It’s clearly something a long ways off, and maybe not an event until the illusive “Singularity”. From a rather restricted knowledge of buzzwords and other mainstream science, the path to this will likely come in the form of advanced computer modelling and high spatial resolution magnetic resonance imaging.