Chapter 37 - The Arts of the Information Age


High technology and the information explosion facilitated by television and computers have altered almost every aspect of life in the late modern era. In the global village of the late twentieth century, electronic media have homogenized world culture and created a multicultural, consumer-oriented society. A new global consciousness is reflected in the arts and in the futuristic imagery of science fiction, as represented by Clarke's short story, The Sentinel, and its cinematic analogue, 2001.

Artistic expression since the 1960s has witnessed a movement away from the high seriousness of modernism. Postmodern world-citizens - heirs of the entire humanistic tradition - address the realities of life with cool dispassion and wry humor. Postmodern philosophers and poets describe individuals as prisoners of the very language by which meaning is made; they share with postmodern architects and writers a disdain for rational structure and objectivity. Novelists Joyce Carol Oates and Donald Barthelme employ different prose styles to address such contemporary issues as random violence and the information glut. The visual arts of the postmodern era have been pluralistic, eclectic, experimental, and idebtyed to the materials and processes of high technology. Electronic technology has had a massive effect on art and architecture, as well as on musical composition, performance, and dissemination, a circumstance that has blurred the line between high and low (elite and popular) art in all genres.

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