Exploring the online platform DeviantART

17 Jul

Internet, the new media that has only appeared for a few decades, has changed many of our ways in viewing, like the concepts and power relations. Recently, I’ve joined an online platform that allows members to share art as well as literature works. And I found that it not only changes how we see ‘art’ but also consumption. It is a great example of Internet’s power, combining communication, socialization, consumption and production. The platform is called deviantART (http://www.deviantart.com/)

As I register an account, I took notice to its Etiquette Policy (something that I started to pay more attention on after studying Media Practice…If you are interested you are welcome to have a look too http://about.deviantart.com/policy/etiquette/) The website states itself as ‘worldwide community of artists of every age’ and accepts ‘works spanning every medium, every subject and every level of talent and skill.’ Is a shining evident of the breakdown of the barrier between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. Media like ‘oil printing’ or ‘poetry’ may be seen as high art and ‘flash’ or ‘cartoons and comics’ as low art in the modern times but here on DeviantART, they are all called art. What matters is if you (or more exactly your art works) are popular.

If you go to the website, the popular pictures will be the first things you see. On the left hand side there is a bar, on which you can choose how you browse the site: “Deviations”, “T-shirts & Gear”, “Prints Shop” and “Groups”. I especially want to talk about the later two.

“Prints Shop” is where you can buy other members’ art works, of course when they are put on sale. It shows clearly how ‘prosumption’ works. Here, every member can be a producer as well as a consumer. Productions and distributions no longer restricted to firms or shops. Through Internet and sites/ platforms such as DeviantART, people can become a ‘firm’ by oneself. We always have the potential to be an active producer, who produce and consume on this virtual world. Moreover, this kind of consumption is not only monetarily, but also visual consumption. I personally agree that viewing visually appealing images and seeing people’s creativity can be a very satisfactory. They are simply amazing!

The ‘groups’ section also let me see how people can interact, and form communities on this platform. These groups not only are communities of specific art types, background or interest, but also fan communities. These fan communities can be fans of specific media product (e.g. the anime fan group “Club-Bleach”) or software (the group “PaintToolSAI”) or even brand (the group “Disney-club”) I dare say one can definitely find a group to belong, since there are over 100 thousands groups. People look for their identity and belonging through these communities.

Another thing I appreciate this platform very much is its commenting culture. I always see harsh criticisms or swear words used in youtube and forums which always feel how immature and irrational online citizens can be. However, in DeviantART, I found a lot of encouraging comments and rational criticisms, where people will point out the strengths and weaknesses of the work and gives opinions. I found this constructive and it reminds me of the ‘public sphere’ theory suggested by Habermas, which suggests a place where public can gather and discuss rationally the political concerns and current issues. Although this platform only or more precisely, mostly discusses art, there are also people who use artworks to express their view on current issues and their political points of views. I must admit long and thorough discussions are rare and the site, being on the internet, still has the problem of discriminated access, but I do see the potentials and possibilities, which I doubt before.

All in all, I see a positive platform where people can interact, communicate, produce and consume. Although there will always be arguments on copyrights and other concerns I found this platform an encouraging example of a constructive online community and platform.

662 words

Wendy Law


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