Art documents history.
To me, this is not only the most imporant reason for creating art, but it also is an extremely valuable form of understanding our history.
It uses feeling to enable us to connect with the past in a more direct way than bare facts could ever do.
Sometimes this feeling is encoded and not easy to decypher, but almost no piece of art comes without accompanying artworks that help us understand.
And of course there is context in the form of cold facts that also helps us in our efforts.
Today we are creating an abundance of expression of feeling and distributing art and commenting on it like never before.
Future generations will have to use evolved datamining techniques to make sense of the chatter — but it is not only the sheer volume that will make their understanding nebulous.
Also the very limited form of creating our artistic footprints in the digital space will impose interpretational problems to our ancestors.
This limitation is probably best described as a variation on jaron laniers “you are not a gadget” in which he draws an analogy between the reductionism imposed on music by the midi format (which he co-developed) and the reductionism imposed on human beings on becoming rows in databases.
Artists are masters in leveraging limitations of the medium of their choice. So far most of us have simply accepted the medium as it has been presented.
If we don’t want a future in which Marc Zuckerberg is the only memorable artist and everyone else simply is a dot of paint in his masterpiece, we need to begin to learn how to leverage the limitations of the medium.
Everyone needs to learn the way the core fabric of our times works.
And then we need to bend it. Playfully, gracefully but without a trace of mercy.