One of the giant myths of the Internet has to be that the intense interest and fetishization of new advancements in digital technologies (such as cameras, phones, web applications, video games etc) exists equally within other disciplines. Content in other disciplines on the web is a far more nebulous concept, and as far as web users are concerned, we mistake being interested in the present for the new, often getting the two confused. Undoubtedly one of the best supporting arguments to this assertion comes from the increasing tendency for established blogs that were once sources of content to turn into linking machines. Recycled content is endless and side bar commentary while entertaining, is essentially meaningless.*
Given that the Internet thrives on recycled material it is no surprise that recycled visual assets is a large part of web aesthetics. There is some question as to whether the use of recycled imagery is as equally problematic as the constant recycling of content, and it would seem the onus is on the artist to prove that this is not the case. On the one hand, artists have been curating and recycling material for hundreds of years, on the other, the practice is much more wide spread than it ever has been. There are a lot of questions that have to be answered. What does it mean that the pop culture images artists have grown up with and are now using in their art work have never exited our lexicon in the first place? Can the notion of nostalgia be sustained if there hasn’t ever been a time when artists of my generation haven’t been talking about super Mario brothers? Is what amounts to be a set cannon of images create a language that is too easy?
My belief has always been that smart artists have and will continue to make work that transcends the discourse, but the larger implication we have to address in these questions is that the continuous recycling of images can also result in cultural stasis. While making predictions on the future of anything has resulted in such visionary notions as the nuclear powered vacuum cleaner as a common house hold item, it does seem useful to at least entertain the idea that there might be some repercussions we don't like from the practice. It is this kind of self awareness that will ultimately improve our ability to respond and create new and better work.
*A comment to be taken with a grain of salt, because there are examples of people who use this form effectively and do issue useful and effective criticism.