Is Art Still Relevant?, 2022, 44:45

In the last decade, the video essay has emerged as a dominant form on YouTube. These videos are frequently hosted by ex-academics taking what they learned from academia and conveying it in a manner more creative, comprehensible, and culturally relevant than what would be possible within underfunded and tradition-focused institutions. The videos take on colloquial, experimental forms, utilizing the language of the internet, popular media, and online culture as an on-ramp to educating the audience. While numerous great creators have emerged to discuss topics in the fields of philosophy, sociology, game design, science, and media analysis, fine art is not given the same central focus. Instead, it is often a tool relegated to discussing these larger topics and themes. Maybe that’s because nobody really cares about art itself, but instead how it can be used.

Art is Everything attempts to fill this void by elevating concerns and theories in contemporary arts discourse to a wider audience via the video essay format. It serves a need for media that is solidaristic with the feelings of creatives in and out of the art world bubble, who face increasing instability from the continued defunding of institutions, limitations and precarity of online platforms, hostility from a culture that finds art to be unimportant, and threats of the rising tides of political extremism and climate change. Above all, it emphasizes collectivism, context and radical empathy as ways to address these concerns. This is antithetical to the contemporary art world’s focus on individual artists’ individual achievements, for the purpose of asset speculation, and the online platform economy’s attempts to pit creatives against each other.

In addition to this, Art is Everything continually challenges the format of video essays and by attempting to weave individual artworks into the fabric of the videos themselves. Placing these works in context with the topics of the video illustrate how the works respond to them conceptually. This implementation hopes to repair the lacking arts education brought about by underfunded education systems, right wing media’s hostility to art, art world isolationism, and institutional failure. Not only does it guide the understanding of the imagery shown, it also places works of digital art in front of a YouTube-watching audience who typically may not attend galleries, museums, or online exhibitions.

To begin this series, the first episode asks if art itself is still relevant. With climate change sitting as “a fire at the end of the tunnel,” and a wider cultural zeitgeist that has defunded and devalued art systematically over the last 50 years, is it still worthwhile to pursue? Who is listening? In seeking answers to these questions, the video turns to critical theory on the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of art, settling on an idea that maybe art feels irrelevant because the goals artists hope to achieve are impossibly ambitious. Maybe a more human approach is needed.