Learning from a changing world
Culture can go through dramatic periods of discontinuous change and we seem to be going through one right now as we enter 2014. Not only are the good people of Colorado lining up to buy legal recreational Cannabis but Uruguay has legalized it also. Not only is marriage equality becoming an accepted part of the American landscape but the leader of the Catholic Church has started the process of shifting attention away from culture wars to the real issues of the world: environmental and social justice. Not only has the Affordable Health Care act become a reality in America but General Motors is now run by a woman who has worked her way up from the factory floor.
These are all signals of great change as consumer culture rights itself from the lopsided materialism of the last twenty years to a more balanced and humane culture within which the meaning of things and a desire for a re-engagement with humanism and egalitarianism is now manifest in the consumer economy.
In short we all dream of having more but it is now no longer a dream of having more stuff it is a dream of having more life, more meaning and more of the things that make life feel worthwhile: good relationships, a beautiful environment and functional cities (to name a few).
We recently discussed this with an art historian who said that a return to craft (something we have documented at Studioriley in the past) and a renewed appreciation for beauty may very well be the highlights of a renewed art scene. Less Koons and more Richter. This seems to be true in China where the worlds most valuable painting is a traditional calligraphic depiction of nature.
These things have a way of seeping into pop culture and consumerism, accelerated by new creative businesses and a youthful rebellion against old values.
2014 looks set to be an interesting year. Economies are righting themselves, old conflicts seem to be fading, new cultural values are emerging and, above all, the digital generation is coming of age as a potent political, cultural and economic force.
We hope you have a great 2014 and look forward to the ride.