The Entertainment Economy

      One of my bumper sticker topics was hanging around the entertainment economy banquet hoping for crumbs.

        Now, if you're a fine artist, maybe over the age of 35, you have to be looking at this stuff wondering what's going on.

The near future press release goes like this:
          All the Arab companies have run out of oil. Our number one export namely,

          war weaponry

          is no longer being purchased. Our number two export,


          has risen to the challenge and is filling in the gap. So artists have saved the economy.

      Now, you know, corporate backed art schools are recruiting the talented media geniuses of the future out of elementary school. We now are faced, like my students who graduate, with a potential for creative participation in the mainstream culture, probably unparalleled since the renaissance.

        And what happens to our model of the fine artist?

      I think it's going to be changing quite dramatically. For one thing, to a young person today, it looks like a fairly impractical and unattractive model. The model of the isolated impoverished marginalized artist alone . Alone.

      And the other is -- now there are always going to be others, because increasingly, more and more people are left out. So that's certainly going to continue. Just because you wanna focus on your creative life, that's not gonna make you an other all by itself in the future.

Also, we're moving out of an era with government funding for the arts.


      When I went to art school initially in the 60s you had a couple of choices. You'd go into advertising as a commercial artist. You could be an academic or you could work at the post office. And that was it.

      If you said, "I'm an artist," you were saying, "I'm not going to be middle class. I'm never going to be middle class." So that is changing quite a bit. I've got kids who can barely graduate before they're out doing corporate web sites and computer animation.

      One of my former students was one of the animators on "Toy Story." And when I tell my current students that, they're just in awe. You know, they're just like oh God, if I could just to be that kind of a person

      I tell 'em to stick with me. Entertainment is a high profile application. And it's important to realize, for the tools it's actually a very small vertical market, namely vertical, you start with you know, one model of an indigo. And then it goes up to you know, an onyx with a reality engine.

      It's not horizontal It's a very small market. But it is a market which challenges the technology innovators. It's very challenging. And why is that? Well, it's very competitive, for one. And it has to keep topping itself.

It has to keep coming out with new visual thrills.

      And the entertainment profits can pay for continuous R & D . If you're old enough to remember when VCRs came out, they were real expensive for a few years.

      And then all of a sudden, the R & D had been paid off, and they were cheap. In the -- for instance, in the early 80s, the dawn of the personal computer was in large part financed by the teenage boys of the world. Because they played video games starting in the mid 70s that brought the price of memory and RGB monitors down.

So at some point, you have to have a way to pay off the R & D.