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Re: <nettime> More Crisis in the Information Society
d.garcia on Sun, 20 Jul 2014 17:40:41 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> More Crisis in the Information Society


I'd like to engage with the last paragraph of Florian's post-

And ask whether the generally low pay and insecure conditions for practitioners 
of what have become known as the creative economy really is such a new 
phenomenon?

Are the average earnings enjoyed/endured by commercial photographers 
(and designers/illustrators/animators/writers) that Florian identifies as 
$20,000/year really that much worse than average earnings for these sectors 
during other historical periods? Although I don't have data to back this up, 
I don't think so.

When I left college way back before the digital revolution, one might also on 
average also be lucky to match the income of most factory workers or those in the 
building trade. Then as now those who entered the creative domains were not attracted by 
the expectation of big pay packets but instead the lure (sometimes delusion) were the 
pleasures of creative engagement and the dream of being one of the few to defy the odds 
and make it big. There was a decade when tech savvy creatives (dread term)
defied -for a few short years the usual logic of capitalist supply and demand in this area. 
But this moment has long since passed and I would argue that we have returned to a 
longstanding norm.    

Volatility in the creative sector is cyclicle. For instance, in the often overlooked discipline of 
illustration a large class of well paid illustrators (engravers) who produced illustrations for 
popular Victorian news journals (on an industrial scale) became surplus to requirements 
with the introduction of half tone photography to news print. 

However illustration did not disappear it re-invented itself as a more expressive and 
interpretive craft. And carved a large new niche for itself as publishers and art directors 
re-discovered the fact that images sell! They sell arguments, ideology and they sell units. 
Today the same domain is undergoing a similar trauma as cheap stock images (among many factors) 
are undermining the lively-hoods of commercial editorial illustrators. And forcing adaptation as 
some seek to embrace the possibilities of digitally native platforms with thumbnail animations, live data 
feeds etc. 

I guess what I am saying is that the arts (including the commercial sector) have always 
been riskier than most and the rewards of a life of expressive creative engagement has 
always had to be balanced against  greater risk and sacrifice. We may aspire to change this 
reality but is it really a new set of conditions ? 

David Garcia

> In the media and information sector, the business model for the new players
> (Google, Apple, Facebook) has not only been centralization, but also the
> fact that they are media companies that no longer employ "content"
> creators. This conversely means that thee economic exchange value of media
> creation, in the classic sense of editorial or artistic/audiovisual/design
> work, is sinking to unforeseen lows. For regional commercial video
> producers in Europe, to take an example with which I'm familiar, hourly
> rates are the same as for repairman only in the best case; in most cases,
> they are lower, and don't reflect investment into equipment. Another
> example: according to market research, the average pre-tax income of
> commercial photographers in the Netherlands is about $20,000/year. If this
> is indicative of any larger trend in media jobs, then it means that nothing
> is more obsolete than the notion of the "creative class", but that the bulk
> of "information society" and media jobs have become working class
> employment or worse.

------------------------

d a v i d  g a r c i a
new-tactical-research.co.uk


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