Matt Jones


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The contemporary artworld is a strange planet. Imagine a place engulfed by water, only one percent of its surface taken up by landmass (specifically, jagged mountainous areas like icebergs). The rest is just miles and miles of seascape stretching in every direction. In the murky depths, the people populating this planet are creating many things; objects, images, artefacts, sounds. They, along with their work, exist under the water and they spend their lives trying to get above the surface, where they can see all beneath them, and everyone can see them. On rare occasions, people reach this point -they are at the top and the mountain on which they are standing is a symbol for their reputation and all is well and good. The people on other worlds go to see the work and sometimes, what is produced will inspire them and lead them to think about something new, it will be admired for its beauty and the level of thought that has gone into producing it. Everyone involved tries to push themselves higher up the slope by shaping their ideas to fit in with everything else. The artworld is a memeplex, a stomping ground for ideas which get passed on from person to person and then modified. One example of a meme currently shaping this world is the ‘intervention’ - this is when the artist uses a public space outside of the gallery envirionment and ‘intervenes’ the space, usually with a minimal piece of work which closely relates to its environment. Ideas such as this are then given value and importance by those higher up the slope. In turn, other artists see this and then adopt the same ideas in the hope that they too will move onwards and upwards. This process is closely related to Darwin's theory of natural selection - those who can copy with “fidelity” (Dawkins 1976) have a greater chance of survival and success. These qualities are then passed on to others through memes and so the process goes on.