WHAT IS GREAT WORK? / by Jack Mawdesley

Great work connects your values and your actions. It satisfies a craving to express your purpose, and to do so in ways that align intention with impact whilst emulating a high standard of consideration.

However, our modern day presents a factitious phenomenon that would appear to present a new qualification on which good work is quantified, widely known as The social media. 

Now, don't get me wrong! I'm in all good favour of utilising social media platforms (Instagram of the main) to publish my work. But! One has to be acutely aware that these platforms do not offer quite the reflection on our work that you might originally expect...

Here's food for thought... 

We have curated a piece of work for a physical exhibition, we promote it, we host it, Our guests arrive and take to viewing our work. Now, What has been set here is the process of both a refined audience and naturally a considered attitude from our attendees.

As ideal as exhibiting all of our work like this would be, it is not practical and rarely possible, especially for a young artist. Alternatively, the social media would seem to be the place that artists both early and even late, turn to display their work more regularly.   

However, when we publish a piece of work onto a social media platform we are placing our work at the mercy of countless "hungry thumbs" (or fingers). An unsparing digit that takes command from the viewer to scroll, swipe, brush, flick and ultimately discard.

Our visual habits have become very similar to our consumer habits in two key combined ways. 

The first key is Trend. Trend advises the consumer towards what is "appropriate", what is current and ultimately "what you need". It refines the search and gives us an appealing result from a capitalistic initiative. 

Trend plays heavily into social networking, one method is hashtagging, a technique originally adopted by social network platforms to apply a control when further specifying a publication. However, hashtagging has become increasingly trend incentivised and therefore having a drastic influence on what is "to be seen" and considered "interesting". As consumers, we are informed by trends and comparatively as media consumers with social networking.       

The second key is the idea of a Throw-away society. The throw-away society is a human society strongly influenced by consumerism. The term describes a critical view of overconsumption and excessive production of short-lived or disposable items. This school of thought can be applied fittingly to the effect of publishing work within the social media. Social media networks have become one of the primary modes of media delivery in the past years, creating greater congested news feeds and a movement towards trend based, easily digestible content - this amalgamation has produced a throw-away society lead by trend based media, simply put "Throw-away media".

How we publish our work is incredibly important and we need to understand the place in which it is presented. Not all great work will get a reflective response from being published on a social media application, not all great artists for that point! We are placing our work into an arena of trends and short-lived scrolling 'n' rolling content. By doing this we have to be aware that we are perhaps displaying in an unsuitable environment and subsequently devaluing our work.

The point is that if we produce genuinely great pieces of work that are recognised as such by the voice of our peers, tutors, colleagues, clients or any viewer for that matter, then that is fantastic! 

BUT If we then choose to publish our work on a social platform and the reception is not reflective of the works calibre, that does not then go to say that the work it is not great, not one bit! We might just not be Trendy Wendys! 

We don't need a trend. We need a style.