Create, share, fund, review: the new online world of culture

Thu, Dec 29, 2011, 00:00

From online-only sparks of genius to the sharing and popularising of cultural events, and online commentary of offline culture, the arts came alive on the internet this year, writes UNA MULLALLY

WHETHER IT was the watercooler that is Twitter rabidly dissecting, discovering and commenting live on cultural events; the sharing of YouTube and Vimeo videos on Facebook, Tumblr and other blogs; discovering online-only artistic endeavours; new online structures being established to create, share, fund and review culture – the online cultural highlights of 2011 flit between online commentary of offline culture, cultural incidents and events shared and popularised online, and online-only sparks of genius.

It’s hardly a highlight for critics, but Amanda Bunker appearing as a performer at the Oxegen music festival in July was definitely one of the most discussed musical events of the year online.

From the announcement of her appearance to the “performance” itself, which has to have set some kind a record for the immediacy of videos of her humming along to a U2 cover becoming available online.

In an era where television programmes are now introduced with Twitter hashtags to the fore, 2011 reinforced how obsessed broadcasters and television producers are becoming with Twitter interactivity.

Programmes that viewers take to commenting about live are now more likely to get commissioned, and everything from The X Factorto Downton Abbeyhijacked Twitter feeds as gripes and witticisms flowed.

FundIt.ie became the Irish online funding hub for cultural and other endeavours. A crowd-funding initiative (that took its cues from Kickstarter), artists, performers, publishers, musicians and creatives gradually migrated their funding strategies to the site, developing social media campaigns around specific projects for the public to fund in return for rewards ranging from tickets to an opening theatre performance to a private gig.

Highlights from the glut of 94 successfully-funded projects include thisispopbaby’s The Year Of Magical Wanking, which graduated from the Queer Notions festival to the Absolut Fringe.

Julie Feeney’s third album recently secured a remarkable €20,000 in funding from members of the public pledging cash to the site. Where Were You, a book and film collaboration between Still Films and Garry O’Neill documenting Dublin youth street style and subculture also bore fruit thanks to FundIt. To date, €402,000 has been pledged to the site.

In terms of musical highlights – a creative industry the bulk of which now exists solely online – there were flashes of excellence, new undertakings and shared moments. In the increasing sphere of art and technology merging to create something quite revolutionary, Bjork’s Biophilia iPad app plonked itself on the outskirts like a lighthouse for all other artists to gaze at and wonder if they could possibly follow. Philosophical, innovative, odd, captivating and exploratory in equal measure, it’s an avant garde landmark for how music and the machine can progress in sync beyond the gimmickry of artists merely creating by using an iPad as an instrument.

One of the most shared videos of the year was Adele singing Someone Like You, standing on a spotlit stage at the Brit Awards accompanied by a lone pianist. It’s that video that added even more oil to the wheels of the locomotive that was 21, a record that almost singlehandedly saved album sales in 2011.

Marina & the Diamonds immersed herself in Tumblr, reinventing her music with the publication of a new blog under the name Electra Heart. And The xx also started blogging, aloofly cataloguing the inspirations that look set to inform their highly-anticipated second album.

Rihanna also added to her monstrously successful young career by streaming her new album Talk That Talkfree on her Facebook page four days before its official release. The streaming was part of Rihanna’s “Unlocked” online publicity campaign, which saw her make huge gains in social media, netting one million new Twitter followers and more than 700,000 new Facebook fans.

Perhaps the most interesting online musical success of the year, is the phenomenon that Boiler Room has become an online and real-life club and radio show that streams DJ sets from critically acclaimed acts at boilerroom.tv. If you can’t get on the guestlist, flip open your laptop and you’re almost in their Elephant Castle and Berlin spaces.

Back home, the live streaming of Other Voicesin Dingle by the Guardianbrought the festival to a much wider audience. It’s no longer Europe’s best-kept festival secret.

But there were smaller gains to be made too, one of the online video highlights of the year was a beautiful montage by cameraman, Andrew Clancy titled “ A Year In New York”. Soundtracked by Irish musician James Vincent McMorrow’s We Don’t Eat,the video ricocheted around the world.

In visual art, a anewspacelivestreets.tumblr.com, showed how to merge the online with offline when the Road Works element of Dublin Contemporary was given a space to be documented. The in-progress and behind-the-scenes picture narratives of street art works offered a new perspective on art that for most people seems to appear over night.