I have been questioning the role of art in my life: not making art or being an artist – I'm entirely committed to both – but what other people's art means to me. I'm troubled that, for a while now, it hasn't meant that much.I used to be deeply touched by my experience of art. I've been moved to tears in front of certain works, because of everything from the subject matter to the way the paint had been applied. I've traced sculptures with my fingers, not so much studying as absorbing their forms. I used to travel 18 hour by bus or train to see exhibitions in other states. I didn't know much about the artists who made the works – my education in art history didn't really begin until a few years ago – but I didn't really care. The experience of art was enough.It isn't anymore.During the worst of my recent times I wanted to lose myself in other people's works. I scanned websites for descriptions of upcoming exhibitions but lost interest before I could drag myself out the door. And when I tried to recall art that had affected me but I could only think of two; a large abstract by Anselm Kiefer and a disturbing study by Francis Bacon of Velsaquez's Pope Innocent X. It bothered me that the thing around which I'd built my life meant so little to me. Even when it came to my own work, I sensed the intensity of my commitment had faded. I asked myself why art as a whole had less meaning to me? Had I become jaded – or simply more discerning? Athough I can more clearly identify the influence of one artist over another and the occasionally rote-like repetition of ideas, art doesn't have to be great or even original to be effective. I began to doubt the value of any art, despite seeing other people's response to my own. I began to doubt myself.The world has changed a lot in the last fifteen years, most noticeably in the last five. The internet has connected everybody to each other and to vast amounts of information about everything. For a while, I thought that art wasn't keeping up, that the changes in the way we respond to visual material had made art as we used to know it obsolete. The 'net has certainly changed our expectations of art: reproduction of images is not just accepted but expected. We – I – want to be able to view an artwork when I want, where I want, which is to say I want art to be something I can experience within the context I define for it rather than the context someone or something else (such as a gallery) defines. But the medium is not just the 'message': what the medium has done is shift the message – from the art to the artist.And suddenly I can't look at an individual artwork the same way again.I've written before about the inexorable shift in value from the individual artwork to the artist. I've understood – and embraced – this on an intellectual level but the more I've thought about it – and the more I've looked for art that has real meaning for me – the more I've realised that meaning, like value, has also shifted to the artist. My experience of art is no longer satisfied just by being able to see artworks. I want to know more about the artist and understand at a deeper level the development not just of their ideas but of their self. I want to be able to watch in real time how they evolve within a rapidly changing world and how they interact with it – even better, how they interact with me. An individual artwork will always be related to the time and context in which it was made, and I am still interested in that too, but as a part of the artist as a whole.In other words, in a time when everything is commoditized, I want to know the artists are more (or less) than what they make and why. Maybe a truly contemporary artist is one who 'gets' this and engages openly and directly with our radically revised expectations of them.