The concept of First Work/Last Work seems to fit in the earlier stages of the GHC cycle–that is, the novelty of the Technology Trigger and a new exploration of art, and the inflation of expectations towards the peak and the Last Work that has the final say in terms of how ‘high’ a project can go. The Last Work could also be placed somewhere on the Slope of Enlightenment as the last inflation of hype before the Plateau of Productivity is established. After that, the practice of a medium or technology has been established, the wonder is lost, and the cycle of hype is complete until another trigger or game changer shakes the plateau.
Upon my first glance of the Hype Cycle, I couldn’t help but see it as a graphical representation of the creative process, where there is great hype with an initial idea, followed by the crash of reality, and then the struggle to balance the two as the process goes on, leading to a final compromise that helps even out the nerves of the artist. I would say that like Sculze, I like working in the valley of Expectations, Disillusionment and Enlightenment, simply because of the range of emotions and the richness of experiencing a rebirth of the initial hype in the Enlightenment stage. It is a stage much easier to work for simply because there are parameters already set, as opposed to the Technology Trigger stage where there is the implication of working from scratch. There is a common misconception of creativity being originality, however I truly believe that working under limits and pressure can in fact be a hot breeding ground for truly creative and innovative ideas. The overwhelming pressures of infinite possibility, although idealized, end up being a failure point for many, hence the scarce nature of large-scale triggers.
In terms of actual work though, I find the plateau of productivity the most comfortable as tools and skills are assimilated and feel more natural. Call me old fashioned, but I see the merits and enjoy repetitive mundane work. Much easier to get ‘in-the-zone’, as they call it.
The GHC attempts to map technologies based on pubic perceptions of them and their practical (commercial and technological) stages of development. In contrast Michael Naimark discusses the concept of First Word and Last Word as terms to describe the application of a particular technology and subsequent, more refined applications of that same technology.
While on the one hand I am very interested in coming up with completely novel ideas and uses for technology. Part of me (perhaps the designer part) finds satisfaction in the refinement of ideas. Taking old ideas, improving them, repurposing and re-conteztualising them.
Schulze prefers to play in the trough because technology down there is cheap. It has often been hyped and mass produced. I think that Schulze also likes to surprise the public and it is easier to surprise them if they already have low expectations of a technology.
It is hard to impress people with Virtual reality, voice recognition or cloud computing because the publics expectations of these technologies are are already high. Build something interesting or useful with RFID and we are pleasantly surprised.
Both Gartner Hype Cycle and First Word/Last Word capture the differences in population’s interest in technology/art with respect to time. “First word” art is comparable to the first two steps of GHC (rise and peak of interest) and “last word” art is comparable to the last step of GHC (“Plateau of Productivity”). A new form of art/technology is initially met with a surge in interest and attention (hype), with interest/attention waning as the art/technology ceases to be “new”. After the test of time, the truly inspirational/useful art/technology are the ones embedded in the minds and memories of future generations.
I think Schulze had a particular interest in technologies in the “Trough of Disillusionment” because they are like gemstones deposited and covered up in the depth of a mountain. They are ideas that have been established but are waiting to be polished into something truly influential.
I am most interested in “last word” art, or the “enlightenment” part of the GHC. Polishing a gemstone is as much of an innovation as creating one, although creation of a gemstone is really a blessing from the muses.
First word art is what we think of as ‘unexplored territory’; anything new that has never been seen before can be first word art. for example, modern art especially is constantly searching for uncharted territory that their art can explore and express to the world. Movements such as minimalism was sparked, in part, by this need to create something new and unseen. In contrast, last word art refers to art that focuses on improving upon or exploring an idea or form that already exists. I myself am interested in first word art. however, I feel that much more of what I actually delve into in my own art is last word art. I enjoy trying to explore concepts in order to understand them better myself and hopefully look at them from new and interesting angles. I feel that this is similar to why Schulze prefers to work in the “Trough of Disillusionment”; because these things, which have already been created, my be using technology which, if approached differently, can inspire greater inventions, art, and more. In additions, these forgotten technology are much more cheaper than others so in a sense you get more for less.
When I was reading Naimark essay I had immediately the picture of the “Skandalkonzert” (March 31, 1923, Vienna) conducted by Arnold Schoenberg in my mind. The audience was shocked by the new experimental music and the they began rioting.
Whats is better, “First Word Art” or “Last Word Art”? To shock people or to enthuse them by excellent but well-known work. There is not better or worse way to touch people, there is no right or wrong. It’s all about what do you want to tell and to find for this moment the right way to do it.
To think new technology means simultaneously better it’s in my mind a false conclusion. To bring “old”, well-known technology in a new context, can be also innovative and gives the old technology a new glance. I think that’s also one point why Schulze prefers to work in the “Trough of Disillusionment” discarding that old technology is cheaper then the brand new stuff.
Where are my interests? I’m not so sure about it and with every new project I try to find for me the best way to be a critical artist which can touche some people with its work. Furthermore I think nothing utterly novel. Everything is a process and everything is resulting from the past.
First Word, Last Word
First word art is groundbreaking and exploratory. It’s playing outside any rule structures. It side-steps competition. People often don’t know how to react to it. Last word art is virtuosity after the rules have been fixed. It accepts the established form, and is judged by comparison.
I believe First Word Art and Last Word Art may both find homes along the spectrum presented by the Gartner Hype Cycle. The question is exactly to place either kind, for as with any spectrum, there is no clear “right” or “wrong” answer. The relationship between First Word/Last Word and the Gartner Cycle is therefore intrinsically intertwined, where the Gartner Cycle is the more precise of the two. I would also like to point out that while the Gartner Hype Cycle focusses on different technologies, it could be used for social advances of many different categories. For example, if one were to substitute the title of art in place of that of technology, one might find a curve with the Helicopter Symphony placed at the beginning/left, installation art at the peak, and photography at the extreme right/end (these are my rough guesses).
My interests on the hype cycle lie along all points of the graph, as each stage presents a new opportunity. Quantum Computing, for example, is an extremely interesting topic where the results will not be visible for over a decade. If one is not working on developing such machines then there is little one can do. Working with emerging technologies which have established a future for themselves can be much more exciting and rewarding, particularly when there is an element of instant gratification involved. Schultz says in his video that he prefers to work in the “trough of disillusionment” – that area where technologies are accepted but not yet in (or never arrive at) the profitability stage.
“We’re interested in the dull stuff!”
These are technologies which are often mass-produced and are therefore less expensive than many of the emerging technologies will be.
“Of course we’re curious about jetpacks and fancy goggles, but we haven’t got any in North London.”
The Garter Hype Cycle acts as a map of where first word/last word pieces are probable–the Innovation Trigger technologies are often still too young and expensive to suitably fit into artist’s hands (quantum computing comes to mind). First word art begins to emerge as technologies begin to summit the Peak of Inflated Expectations as the technologies become more accessible and popularized outside of academia, whereas in order to artistically “kick” something out of the Trough of Disillusionment and onto the Slope of Enlightenment (and perhaps eventually into the Plateau of Productivity), one needs to create last word art. Creating last word work, redeeming technologies by pulling them from irrelevance back into the public’s interests (and eventually expectations), the is perhaps the allure of the Trough of Disillusionment to Schulze.
I would say my work is First Word in nature. As an artist my goal is to experiment and play with technologies available to me, not necessarily to create technology-defining work. The technologies I choose to work with, however, tend to be those that are falling off the Peak of Inflated Expectations, arguably because they tend to be more accessible to me, as a Midwestern teenager, than a quantum computer or a brain-computer interface.
The Gartner Hype Cycle and Michael Naimark’s First Word Art / Last Word Art relate the radical to the acceptable. Whereas the former is a spectrum of technology maturity, the latter is a dichotomy of emerging forms of art and established forms. These spectra point to the fact that mass adoption of a new art form or technology is closely related to accessibility. In terms of technology, accessibility most closely correlates with cost, where in art accessibility correlates with familiarity to a set of artistic idioms.
I’m primarily interested in First Word Art, which to me means exploring new and radical forms of expression. While this may involve experimenting exclusively in bleeding edge technologies, I don’t think this is always necessary. In my practice, the message or artistic agenda tends to take priority over the medium or technology used. Practically speaking, working in the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” consumes more money and time than working in the “Trough of Disillusionment.”
Gartner Hype Cycle and First Word/Last Word Art
The Gartner Hype Cycle (GHC) describes how evolves from being the Next Big Thing into something more mature and mainstream. In the essay First Word Art / Last Word Art (FW/LW Art), Michael Naimark discusses first word art, which explores the frontiers of media and techniques, and last word art, which perfects an existing medium to the point where it doesn’t seem worth working with anymore.
The GHC and FW/LW art seem to be the same idea once you abstract away the art/tech domain specificity. FW/LW art talks about the maturation of art media, so if you consider technology to be a medium for art, then the GHC is just one way of describing a trajectory of maturation. What makes it harder to fit GHC into FW/LW, though, is that, while GHC assumes that after some hype and disillusionment, a technology will become productive, art media don’t necessarily mature that way, steadily improving (e.g., television).
In terms of the GHC, my interests mostly lie at the peak of inflated expectations, or low on the slope of enlightenment. I think this is because I always want to test out the potential of new things (see what they can do), and because I like to imagine uses for technology that hasn’t really been used well yet.
In terms FW/LW art, I’m less interested in creating new media than expressing myself through existing ones. I think I’d only get to FW art if I imagined something that couldn’t be done in any existing way, but that I was determined to do.
Schulze The Trough of Disillusionment
I think Schulze prefers to work in the “Trough of Disillusionment” because
- It’s cheaper to use those parts.
- The limitations and capabilities of the technology are relatively well understood, so you’re less likely to be disappointed by something that’s been hyped up.
- It’s fun to surprise people by repurposing things they’ve disregarded.
First word art is possibly most appropriately matched with the region between the Innovation Trigger and Peak of Inflated Expectations of the GHC. The technology that exists within this middle ground of the curve is fresh, innovative, – or in Naimark’s words, “new and novel” – and on the rise of reaching the peak. As the media within this region is still novel it would not come as a surprise that people are ‘unsure of how to react to it’, and for that reason this bundle of emerging media would not be at the height of public expectations.
Last word art, on the other hand, seems to best correspond to the Slope of Enlightenment, as it is the region in which previously novel technologies have already been well-established in the society; those who are better acquainted with those technologies are able to create more interesting applications that the public still deems as innovative, but not alien.
I would say that my interests lie in the innovative end of the spectra. While I do not consider my artwork to belong to that particular side of the cycle, I am very much interested in the emerging technologies that are being developed each day because of their potential to grow into something much greater. In a sense, it could be argued that the Trough of Disillusionment is very similar to the Innovation Trigger. Despite how progress is greatly inhibited in the trough, there still exists opportunities for improvement and growth. Thus it is possible that Schulze prefers to work in this part for this very reason, in addition to the fact that it neighbors enlightenment and productivity.