The Crowd: issue summary
by Dave Bonta and Beth Adams
Whether because our culture is so relentlessly individualistic, or because, ever since the Industrial Revolution, we have rewarded artists for the single-minded pursuit of a deeply personal vision, creative thinkers rarely devote much attention to the ways of individuals in aggregate. Past qarrtsiluni issues such as Ekphrasis and Mutating the Signature have challenged the conception of artist as loner, but this time we asked individual contributors to think more deeply or broadly about “The crowd, the flock, the herd, the mob, the swarm, the tribe. … With the planet’s burgeoning human population threatening to exceed our ecological carrying capacity, and so many crises now requiring urgent collective action,” we wrote, “it seems imperative for artists and writers… to turn our attention to sociality in its most vital and basic form.”
The contributions we received in response were unexpectedly rich in seas, breasts and crows. The crowd at times appeared dangerous and at times joyful, even redemptive; fell prey to the winds of fashion or remained resolute with political purpose. We discovered that artists and photographers pay more attention to crowds than writers do, judging by the unusually high proportion of images to text submissions. Among the latter, a significant minority took a surrealist tack. A creature with a thousand mouths does interesting things to language, it seems. Senses are sharpened: tuned to each other, we see and hear much farther than we could alone. Tuning each other out, retreating into our private thoughts, we taste a loneliness altogether different from solitude. Welcome to the Crowd.