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11 June 2009

Two examples of “visual art” imagery as selected by (semi-)democratic processes

Below are two examples of what visual art looks like as determined by democratic processes. One was determined through a simple Google image search on the term “visual art.” The result is an answer determined via algorithm-enhanced democratic process. The second was arrived at via an open call at the New York Times’ photojournalism blog, a more selective form of democratic process governed by human will and motivation. It was subject to light editing, and the limitation that all images needed to be created via Polaroid.

Click on the images below for more information.



Democracy is a process not an all-encompassing solution to all open questions. Yet, raised as we have been in an era of it’s seeming triumph — viz, American Idol, Barack Obama, the fall of the Soviet empire — the word carries with it all sorts of kneejerk positive implications. There are, however, no absolute goods (just as there are no absolute evils). In some sectors of life & expression, democracy should be considered an, at best, ambiguous tool. (Viz, again, American Idol.) History seems to have determined that democracy is the lesser evil process for making decisions about public affairs. Its use in determining aesthetic issues remains in doubt.

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis

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  1. On 2009-6-11 Marisa said:

    Hi Alec, good stuff to think about!

    (semi)democratic processes that encourage positive, cheap, creative artistic production must be matched with the development of aesthetic criteria that takes all this into account. Unfortunately this criteria often requires a critical stance (not positive), historical awareness (education, reading books, etc.) and time/money; you note well that we should be mindful to distinguish what we mean by “democratic” in the political realm and the production of art (american idol as democratic expression?) M.

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