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mondes de l'art plausibles

Arbitrating Attention: reinvesting attention surplus in plausible artworlds

Arbitrating Attention: reinvesting attention surplus in plausible artworlds

The post-industrial world has given birth to what some describe as an “information economy,” which is but one part of a broader “attention economy.” But does this information glut produce an artificial scarcity of (social) attention or do our apparently foreshortened attention spans cast shadows where new forms of sensory and cognitive experiences can quietly deploy?

The rise of the attention economy – that is, the economy inherent to the “society of the spectacle,” of which the mainstream contemporary artworld is both the proving ground and the emblematic outcome, shows every sign of continuing into the future at the same inexorable pace it gathered in the twentieth century. At the outset, this might have applied to the 15 minutes of fame as art’s ulterior motivation. Increasingly, however, the attention economy has come to be defined by the relationship of capital to visual culture, more specifically to how artists and the artworld as a whole function in a sector increasingly nurtured by hedge-fund management tactics and poached upon by the prosumer strategies of the entertainment industry. Art is ostensibly still their perfect partner, for the ideology of these forces is not domination, but freedom. The challenge is to avoid passive consumption, while using the resources and freedom generated by the attention economy to fund the darker more poly-vocal initiatives at its edges.