The Future of the Flow Arts

For the past three months we’ve explored the Flow Arts in a myriad of different ways, from its history to the culture surrounding it and the different ways people participate in it. I hope you’ve learned something in this series--it’s been a lot of fun to write and produce. There’s a lot of open and unanswered questions, but the biggest one I’m interested in is this: if we know where we’re at and where we’ve come from, where are we ultimately going?

Ten years ago the word Flow Arts didn’t even exist and now it’s a term and a philosophy that underpins the work of thousands of artists all across the globe. We’ve seen Flow Artists perform in stage shows, on America’s Got Talent, become a bigger business, and through it all there’s no one that can deny the fundamental joy of spinning with your closest friends.

We’ve seen some major advancements in the technology behind the different tools we use as well as how we interact with them. A majority of practice and fire tools for the past decade have been constructed out of materials originally meant for different industries or purposes, but manufacturers like Flowtoys and LanternSmith have begun to develop materials and props designed specifically for Flow Artists. It might not be that far off in the future when materials designed for our art find uses in other industries.

Many people have seen or used computer simulations of different tools either as a learning tool or to appreciate as art. Google recently developed a 3D painting application within the virtual world. An attempt to apply the same technology to the Flow Arts world has already begun and promises to bring our art into a new and visually stunning context.

Mobile apps and geotagged resources are making it easier than ever to connect with other artists. The Flow Map of the World will soon be released and the meantime there is a Spin Jam map on the Flow Arts Institute site. Want to find other artists? It’s never been easier to do so!

As we continue to research the health benefits of Flow Arts and other similar movement arts, we may come to find that they work as an effective form of therapy for many physical and mental ailments. There’s already promising research showing that dance and tai chi are effective interventions for many of the physical ailments that encroach in old age. Spinning may join them as effective pastimes both for the young as well as the old.

Flow Arts may also come to be an effective physical and social development agent for children or adolescents. They offer a great deal of fulfillment both as a meditation as well as skill and may be a great way to teach discipline and motivation to young minds. What heights could a generation of spinners who’d been trained from childhood push the art to?

As the population of Flow Artists continues to swell, might we see an uptick in depictions of it in the mass media? Fire dancing was featured prominently in an episode of the TV series Grimm and has appeared in the background of countless music videos, TV shows, movies, and more. Who knows? In time, Flow Arts might become as widespread as skateboarding or yoga.

Juggling and diabolo already have large-scale professional competitions. Might we see Flow Arts become more of a sport with a well-developed system of sponsorships, rewards, and friendly competition? I’ve heard more than a few observers compare Flow Arts to the early years of snowboarding or skateboarding cultures.

Could Flow Arts be a vehicle for bringing the philosophy of Flow and mindfulness to a greater audience? Many people have flocked to the spinning arts for an alternative to the hypercompetitive world of mainstream culture and commerce. As the ranks of Flow Artists continue to swell, might they in some respects bring the mental and physical discipline of flow to a wider audience in the same way that yoga has for mindfulness and movement meditation?

One thing I can tell you for sure: the Flow Arts have had a massive positive impact on my life, allowing me to find creativity in movement, introducing me to an extraordinarily welcoming subculture and friends, as well opening my mind up to pursuits that I thought were previously unimaginable. I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through the Flow Arts and don’t worry: there’s much more to come!

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