How much does environment affect self-expression?
I've been thinking back to the times our ancestors lived by the skin of their teeth in the wild places of the earth. Some folks still live there today in the tundras, deserts, forests and plains of our world - eking out an existence in a state of constant battle against the environment, the elements, animals, disease and each other.
In these places, interaction with the world revolves around survival. This is reflected in the crafts and modes of self-expression used: building, weapons-crafting, clothing. Self-expression occurs as a reaction to the world.
As the human race expands exponentially the methods of interaction open to us in the modern world, new art forms and modes of self-expression are born. We see evolutions of dancing, fashion, tattoos and so on up to digital memes, blogging and games. The cutting edge of technology can be used not only for increasing food and shelter but also for increasing art, entertainment and engagement (see for example, Instagram or Google's Project Glass). In many cases, these new forms are action rather than reaction.
The problem of too much choice rears its head. People uncomfortable in the vast swamps of ideas, technology, and what-to-do-nexts of the conceptual world scurry to the comfortable hearths of the past to feel secure, the reassuring touch of the tangible. Witness the resurgence of knitting, crochet, baking, home gardening.
Society/environment and art like a double helix: each inextricably bound to the other, ties back and forth, looping around each other. Where will it go? How will it grow? In 100 years, with everything exponential and computers obsolete, our lives could be controlled directly from within the brain. How will progressive artists express themselves in this pure conceptual space? Conversely, what interesting backlash regression in physical self-expression will rise?
In a future lived more in the mind than the body: How will art act and push society to react? How will society act and push art to react?