The Unassuming Power of Twitter in the Arts
A recorded conversation with Dr Rachel Marsden.
Audio was recorded with the permission of the interviewee.
Hester: Hey and welcome back to Agony Arts. This week I’m talking to Dr Rachel Marsden. She holds a PhD in Contemporary Chinese art and recently lectured in Art Curatorship and Cultural Management at the University of Melbourne. We talked about social media in the arts and the power of Twitter to connect.
H: Seeing as you’re the most active person on Instagram in my Instagram feed, I thought you’d be the perfect person to ask about social media and the role it plays in arts education, and what role you see it playing as a tool or just a personal kind of platform?
Rachel: As part of my PhD I started a blog and that was pretty fundamental to the development, not only of my research, but also Twitter, which I know a lot of you of a different generation don’t really engage in.
H: So how did that factor into your research?
R: Well, I think, something that I found quite interesting, from when I was teaching at the University of Melbourne, is that, I gave a questionnaire out to the Exhibition Management students at the beginning of semester, and as part of that I asked what your social media presence was, just to find out the best way to communicate with students. What I found interesting was actually how little students are engaging with social media, more than, yeh, I’d say five years ago. Or maybe in the Australian context different platforms are a focus, very much that it was Instagram, was the main platform, then Facebook but Twitter was barely mentioned and barely used, which for me, I’ve found, in my career a really useful tool to, I suppose, keep up with a more socio-political perspective of the arts and cultural field as a way to find out information and find articles but also to connect with people. It’s been a really good way to connect with other professionals and other academics. I would say linking information, that’s what it’s so quick to do and so quick at providing, to automatically build networks from which you can expand your field and range of research because you are automatically plugged in to who other people are talking to and connecting to you. And its very instant in that way, and certainly since they’ve expanded the number of characters, as well, you kind of get this different narrative that comes through because people obviously have a lot more space to voice. It’s also, I’d say more than any other platform, and more than Instagram, the one where you’re most likely to get hard and fast negative response if somebody disagrees with you or disputes what you’re saying – more than any other platform. So it’s kind of double edged in how you use it and what for, I think you have to be more careful with it as a platform.
Thinking back to my arts education at your stage, we didn’t have social media when I came out of my undergrad – it wasn’t there. So we didn’t have this accessibility to I suppose a digital art world in the way that we do now. You can find out and see what everyone is doing. Most galleries and artists have a presence and profile. It’s that kind of instant, and also accidental component, as to how you come across information.
H: Thanks for listening. See you next time on Agony Arts.