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Information in Formation: Repositioning Artists on the Crest of the Third Wave

by Jeff Gates

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Let me end by doing a Reality Check

First, that old Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times, is coming to fruition! One of the major differences between today and previous eras is the acceleration of change. The agricultural age lasted thousands of years and the industrial age 150 years. Today, the new communications structure is constantly redefining itself. Everyone is feeling overwhelmed and overloaded. The shift in process is causing major upheavals as everyone struggles to understand and stay ahead of the curve. All the more reason, as deans and department heads, to consider the social impact of these changes have on our staff, our students, and our teachers.

The information revolution is more than just the Internet and its residual hyperbole. It is a cultural shift from the political and social systems that controlled the flow and content of information to one that offers individuals more direct involvement in the developing social structure.

Artists, our students and our co-workers need to be involved in this process. Academic institutions need to help this along by not only providing appropriate content in their courses, but by reorganizing and redefining their structures to accommodate these changes. This is not, as many of you know well, an easy sell to many within your institutions.

The nature of the medium offers the potential for us to reach large or very specific audiences as content providers and interpreters. The pace and scope of these changes often seem daunting. But the chance for artists and art institutions to reposition ourselves from the stereotypical fringe to a more central and valued position in our society is too good to pass up.

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© 1996 Jeff Gates. No reproduction in whole or in part may be used without prior consent of the author.

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