British artist David Hockney, who came to prominence as a pioneer in the Pop art movement in the 1960s, and has more recently made headlines as an early adopter of art apps for the iPhone, has stated that mobile devices are playing a major role in the recent uprisings in Arab countries. "If the Egyptian army had started shooting at the crowd in Tahrir Square, it would have been hard to keep that secret because people had mobile phones. They could have described what was happening by text and sent a picture," Hockney told Bloomberg.
The 73-year-old artist claimed that the ability to create and disseminate images by anyone with a mobile device represents a major power shift from established institutions. Previous to the 19th century, "If you wanted to see images, churches were where they were. Churches had effective social control," the artist explained. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the church was replaced by Hollywood and the mass media, he continued. Today, however, that control is in the hands of the masses. “What we are now seeing is that old mass media are crumbling. The power is shifting again, in a way that will have unpredictable consequences. It is spreading to the masses themselves. We don’t know where that will go.”