Monday, December 25, 2006

Andy Was Right

Time magazine's "Person Of the Year 2006" is You, i.e. the Web 2.0 multi-channel, multi-directional culture, and its millions of contributors. You, because "individuals are changing the nature of the information age," writes Time's editor Rick Stengel in the cover story, "creators and consumers of user-generated content are transforming art and politics and commerce, they are the engaged citizens of a new digital democracy."

Hence the magazine cover picturing a computer whose screen doubles as a mirror: hello you, yourself, your belly button, and your life broadcast on the net. You as a producer vs. a mere spectator.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this "Person of The Year" issue is Josh Tyrangiel's essay Andy Was Right, where he argues that the Web 2.0 stars are Wahrol's descendants, yet with limited family resemblance. Referring to Wahrol's "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes," Tyrangiel writes [extracts]:
We forget that it took a man at the nexus of art and self-promotion to figure out that as cameras shrank and screens multiplied, the barriers to fame would someday be eradicated. Call it Warhol's Theorem.Anyone who has uploaded a video to YouTube or posted a MySpace profile might be considered a child of Warhol except that Warhol's vision of fame was very different from how he actually lived.

Web 2.0 tools out there haven't eliminated exclusivity or narcissism. But they have changed the way the fame game is played. You have to put yourself out there in a way that allows others to relate. If Warhol were living in the Web 2.0 era, it would be interesting to see if he would use the medium as a chance to reveal something about himself or to obfuscate even more effectively.

YouTube is Pop art in a form far closerto Warhol's original, uncorrupted vision than he could ever have imagined.
Emphasizing the networking nature of the Web, and the fundamental difference with Wahrol's era, Tyrangiel concludes: "15 minutes has been replaced by a new prophecy: 'On the Web, everyone is famous to 15 people.' Appropriately enough, many people share authorship of that one." Ditto.
illustration Arthur Hochstein/ Time with Wahrol photo by Richard Schulman/Getty