Michael Naimark discusses the draws of “First Word” and “Last Word” art, where first word art is that which is exploratory and new, and last word art is that which has been built on the foundations of preexisting works and can successfully embody the traditions and rules of the medium. He points out that some parties prefer one type over the other, but that many works can be considered both first word and last word. Naimark comes to the conclusion that “the priority of the timeframe” determines the value of first word versus last word art. Tech fairs may value first word art more highly, while museums may value last word art more highly.
In relation to the Garter Hype Cycle, “First Word” art would fall on the “Technology Trigger” portion of the curve and “Last Word” art would fall on the opposite end at the “Plateau of Productivity”. Jack Schulze explains in his lecture that he prefers to work in the “Trough of Disillusionment”, which is in the middle of technology’s hype cycle curve. To me this means that the technology has become common but not as successful as anticipated. But the interesting piece of the Hype Cycle is that it seems like each technology moves through the entire cycle ultimately finding a productive role in the world.
Schulze’s position in the Trough of Disillusionment seems worthwhile, since many of the upsides and pitfalls of a technology have been identified, and can then be improved upon until finding its way to the Plateau of Productivity. He is helping technology move through the cycle, in a space that there are not as many movers because they have been sifted out or haven’t been enlightened yet as to the potential of the technologies. From his lecture, I can’t tell whether he works along with technologies once they leave the Trough, but he can definitely make an impact from that position, whether he earns the recognition for doing so or not.
Coming back to its relation to FW/LW, first word art will also evolve over time as people work with the medium or style, and it would seem that art that is not first word or last word art can be just as valuable in the role it plays in the evolution of the medium. It has the benefits of both worlds, in having some rules to follow while still being an early and exploratory mover.
This topic is close to me in all fields that I work in (business, art, and technology), and this concept is a very familiar one in the business world, where the first mover advantage plays a key component in R&D and marketing of products and services. The other consideration is the benefit companies have as second movers, having a cheaper learning curve for a new technology since another company’s successes and failures can be modeled after.