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This Business of Art

Posted By: Brian Hughes on February 11, 2005
Pink writes, "To flourish in this age, we'll need to supplement our well-developed high tech abilities with aptitudes that are 'high concept' and 'high touch.'"

The funny thing about "supplementing" (as Pink would have it) is that it's hard to go halfway... to develop these so-called "high-concept" and "high touch" qualities often involves a lot of work. Take art making as an example. People today have the choice to be artistic and they mostly dabble (buying a Graves accessory or making a trip to a museum), and that's fine. Art education is, minimally, a vehicle for this. But art education offers a lot more, yet most people don't make the effort to turn it into something "meaningful"—in the sense that Pink says we are now (suddenly?) interested in “finding meaning."

Pink suggests people will aim "high" for economic reasons, but I find this difficult to understand. All I can imagine is that they will remain as ambivalent about art as ever while they trade in the simulacra of art practice: point and mutter, fetishize clichéd objects, be "fashionable," and so on.

Flourishing in "this age" is no different than flourishing in any other... We have to invest ourselves in the activities we take on as lifelong projects. Pink's thesis makes sense if I take him to be speaking of flourishing in a crass, materialistic way. So let him have his "high" culture. Speaking as an educator, I'd prefer the following thesis: To flourish in this age, as in any age, we'll need to explore our interests and talents in ways that, among other ends, allow us to craft an accurate understanding of human needs and take action towards the fulfillment of those needs.

(Well, I think I went off-topic somewhere along the way...)

- BH
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