The marketing dilemma, between noise and Art

Anything that can convey a message, explicit or not, and that is somehow able to elicit an emotion can be considered in their way to a form of art.

The intention of an action can be seen just as a form of expression to the author, a product of his human quality: hands, voice, thought, movement; that reaches the status of art when it’s meaning and value surpasses the individual and becomes something representing the collective, the times, the country or even the whole of the human race.

The most amazing works of Art are simple, but yet able to convey a message to any human in contact with it. Is like, for it to reach the level of a masterpiece, art has to talk to our essence and even when coming from different cultures or backgrounds still be able to deliver its message. The work becomes collective because it doesn’t reflect the individual anymore, it reflects a bit of every person but no one in particular. The best works of art make us feel connected to other beings, while at the same time, different in the personal meaning we get from them, which is our own, and uniquely interpreted by our senses. Seems clear how for something to be qualified as art (or artistic) it needs to deliver something to a collective of people, and stand the pass of time. Personal works hidden from the public eye, or only messaging its creator, won’t be picked up as worth mentioning down the track, where time will test the message, and see if it remains relevant to be appreciated as such by anyone, disregarding the era they are living, eliminating historical biases, or artificially created interest. For some messages in art, the work itself reflect a world that we have not yet lived in; their communication is to the future and the era that the artist see us living in; hence difficult to grasp by the collective of their time, and only revealed clearly as time goes by, to a future audience.

Art as sublime is rare, and hence our perception of it is limited by our own experience. The real thing, for most, is that you don’t know where the next message is coming from. Sometimes in the most simple and pedestrian things, people find works that reflect them and touch their emotions in a way that they cannot explain to other individuals, a delivery relevant (to them) has been received. Might not be universally regarded as a work of art by the critics, but for you has meaning and gets its content across. In a way, anything that is able to elicit an emotion, with or without, an explicit message is in its route to be classified as art.

If any message that reaches our core can be classified as art, what is the line of separation between art and just noise?

In the past, life surprises and messages where more spaced and there was a possibility of living the moment in a deeper sense. Someone trying to deliver something through a work of art would be aiming at eternity, as that was the only way to guarantee being preserved in time. People were not consuming just the right here, right now, they needed to feel that their message would go beyond themselves and the limited voices in their lifetime competing for attention. The content itself was mostly about life morals, religion, love and war — commerce was not yet in the picture. One would have been happy to get across one of these pieces of wisdom and conduct their whole life accordingly, because not many reach the public.
On the other hand, in current times, people endure an omnipresent bombardment of messages on anything that we lay our senses on, eyes, ears, touch, or just thought. Everywhere there is a bit of info following us and trying to rise through our limited time, spam of attention, and incredible amount of competition. Unsurprisingly, they become so much a part of the background instead of something you can distinguish from it — almost a classic definition of noise. And yet, among the many there are a few that not only are able to deliver what they want to say, but also to elicit a deep human emotion when we received it, the new closest form of art among the noise; the broadcasting is still about how one needs to conduct their life, but now directing it towards consumption and commerce. The message is not less artistic if the purpose aims at lower passions. The public seems the same, but with less time, with less (real) education, and with a fixation on the short-term and instant gratification — where does the marketing starts and art ends?

Marketing, to me, is getting the message across and making it relevant enough to be heard. Will it stand the test of time? Will it elicit an emotion? Maybe. The majority will still get a portion of the message across even if they are to be forgotten tomorrow. Repetition is cheap when the receiver is dumb — and when you repeat many times a message, a few tend to start to believe in it. That form of marketing is just embellished noise, that keeps transferring from medium to medium as we migrate our lifestyle and with it our attention. The more interesting form of marketing is the one posing a dilemma on how to classify it. Between art or just more noise (of a better quality)? a promotional video, a TV advertisement, the creative in a billboard, even POP material that was meant to be consumed (and becomes an item of collection down the track), all of these are the pieces of art in our lifetime — Andy Warhol was right! People don’t have interaction with what traditionally was considered artistic anymore, they are only left with these messages and in some of them they find the awe, the emotion, the transcendence, the human fiber that needs to be touched time and time again. Is it art? Is it not art? For many of us it doesn’t matter is all we know, and by all means recognize the great creative works from the noise, and reward its cleverness by following on their simple teaching, buying the product! — A very simple form of retribution for the little bit of art (or entertainment) added to one’s life.

Only the best creatives, agencies, and marketing strategists understand their role in the cacophony of message in everyday life, and use their resources not to be spent on repetition of a mediocre forgettable piece, and aim at just the right amount of interaction (almost only one screening) that is so superb that can capture the attention and elicit the emotion to lift somebody’s day. Usually these messages don’t even explicitly sell the product, but do it as a side effect of making the collective feel better, and more human. Like many of the best works of art that were originally commissioned work (by the church, the state, the wealthy), the artist use the opportunity in the crafting of a commissioned message to embed in it a rather personal touch, that takes it to the next level, beyond the regular marketing noise and more as a property of the collective. Marketing in a way, is not the best word to describe the business of some exceptional communicators that know how to touch the human essence. A crafted digital image that conveys the reality and complexity of our times (while at the same time selling a product), is virtually doing the same that masters of painting or sculpture, in the past, when interpreting a message to be sent about eternity, power, damnation or greatness that we see in museum items.

Trying to distil down this dilemma is an unforgiving task. For more that I try to equate one thing with the other, the more the reality of their difference comes to mind. I guess purpose, or the place in the hierarchy of human passions that a message incites separates masters from marketers, and therefore art from noise. But, the collective has a very simple way to accept something as a work of art: is it non-commissioned? Is the message beyond short-term banal passions (selling included?) Then it might be art. Anything else has to stand the pass of time, and maybe be recognized by a future audience as a work of art, or maybe not. The commissioned part of the equation people can forgive, as long as the motive is right, but not in reverse, when the motive is low (on human motivational hierarchies), it doesn’t matter if the work is sublime and created personally and independently from any commission.

Even within marketing there is a scale of how artistic a work looks (although probably never to reach real art status), from the messages aiming at motivating the individual to take action beyond just consumption, and marketing that allows the public be the ambassador of the product, and letting word of mouth fly with the rest. To, a newer form of marketing where what is human has taken a new dimension, with an amount of resources available, mediums and data of individuals to be touched never seen before. Streamlining the element of surprise and wonder embedded in some marketing communications seems now possible. Like a factory of emotion, we now want a computer algorithm to find the right combination of imagery, message and medium that will pick up consumer attention and get the message across. Less human to human, and more like human-through-machine understanding other humans as if they were machines themselves to be programmed. Fortunately, there are still a few skeptics with a view that we are more complex that what a machine can ever model, and prefer to aim at Art, rather than aiming at programming their audience.

It seems that beyond the complexity of our current living one thing stand still, and connect us to the same humans living among less busy eras of communication, we tend to know when a message is above the noise and needs to be treated with a special attention; and when we look at it collectively we’ll decide if it express our humanity and is at the top of the scale in our passions to be preserved in time. Then we might call art. The interconnectedness of our present society (internet powered) speed up this process dramatically, and messages that would naturally have risen to the top in years or decades, now do it in hours or days. The collective has gain in being able to discern among the many communications using the aggregated views of individuals and vote for the ones that will best express their feelings, and lost in the diversity of views into what constitutes something relevant according to local culture and beliefs.

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