Being relevant here and now is the new digital imperative.
Artists, journalists and civil society at large need to think fast, create fast and react fast to trending news. Slightly off-track content is automatically discarded, lost forever in a constant feed of easy to grasp / easy to forget headlines.
Philosopher John Dewey once said that “indifference to response of the immediate audience is a necessary trait of all artists that have something new to say”. But can artists still be indifferent to what is said on social media ? Do they still have room to think beyond their times and explore all possibilities that lie ahead?
According to Paul Valéry, poets, philosophers and artists can only express themselves thanks to imperfections of the law of supply and demand. However, surveillance capitalism makes it more and more difficult to share content that doesn’t meet a need and can not immediately be monetized. To the point that it is now more advantageous to be wrong on a timely subject than being right on topics deemed non relevant.
Being irrelevant has indeed become worse than being wrong: by exploring irrelevant topics, thinkers challenge the wisdom of the crowd, they question its priorities, which is far more disruptive than being mistaken on a trending topic.
Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco talked about hyperreality to describe the modern world: a world where reality could not be distinguished from simulation. Hyperreality has now evolved into what I call hyper-relevance: the urge to be so relevant that even reality – in all its dimensions, time scales and possibilities – becomes irrelevant. This is why digressions are so important!
Date: 16th November, remote session