What do you think about aesthetic research made with the help of a computer?

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During Manfred Mohr’s solo exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1971, “a large white panel was mounted in the exhibition hall at the Museum, a sort of guest book, where visitors could write whatever they wished to say. The panel consisted of sprocketed computer paper (77.5 centimeters by 281 centimeters) placed on a wooden board.” This is what they got. Check out this page to read into details.

I discovered this story today thanks to Wolf Lieser‘s beautiful presentation at Retune Festival in Berlin. After the 1971 exhibition, the panel was shown only once, 40 years later, at Bitforms Gallery.

What are these people actually talking about?

Fred Deaking

“I think it’s a creative act in a digital space, that goes beyond the more trivial interactions that social media encapsulates, and engenders some kind of emotional response.”

“There were a bunch of fine artists working in digital space, but they weren’t necessarily making digital art.” Continue reading

A little bit of history repeating: Digital Revolution at Barbican

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Doesn’t this sound familiar? If not, go to read chapter 4 of Beyond New Media Art and you will seriously consider to accuse Alastair Sooke of plagiarism of early reviews by Roberta Smith, Lucy Bowditch, Barbara Pollack, Stefanie Syman and alikes. Some relevant quotes:

“In case you hadn’t noticed, we are living in the middle of a revolution. “

“The exhibits in Digital Revolution are often astonishing, but at the same time the show can veer too close to the tone and texture of a tech industries trade fair.”

” the “art” (in this case, the film itself) has been sidelined, while the means of production take centre stage. “

About Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s The Year’s Midnight (2011): “It’s clever and briefly diverting – but, then, that’s kind of it: a 21st-century version of a distorting fairground mirror. What else is there to say?”

“Digital Revolution is a great idea for a show, and I applaud the extraordinary creativity that is palpable in every single gallery. No one could fault the advances in technology on display, but the art that has emerged out of that technology? Well, on this showing, too much of it seems gimmicky, weak and overly concerned with spectacle rather than meaning, or making a comment on our culture. Moreover, for an exhibition that is supposed to be about the cutting edge of technology, the graphics used by some of the featured electronic artists are surprisingly awkward.”

Alastair Sooke, “Digital Revolution, Barbican Centre, review: ‘gimmicky’”, in The Telegraph, June 30, 2014, online at www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/10935600/Digital-Revolution-Barbican-Centre-review-gimmicky.html

 

New Media Art vs Mainstream

For those who want to see the war of worlds in the making, an interesting debate is taking place this month on the CRUMB mailing list. The discussion responds to a recent review of the book Art And the Internet (Blackdog Publishing, 2014), written by Pac Pobric and published on the Basel edition of The Art Newspaper. Pobric blames internet art for “provincialism”, and writes:

“Artists have been making work on the internet for more than 20 years, but it is scarcely seen outside of small circles. It is virtually nonexistent in galleries and museums, and is seldom for sale at auction. Because the work operates at the margins of the art world, it lies in the suburbs of cultural conversation. Few artists break into the mainstream, and those who do rarely take the internet as their primary interest—Seth Price is a good example.”

If you don’t subscribe to the list (which is recommended), it’s pretty hard to lurk in, so I add here a direct link to the online archive for June 2014.

Below a couple of catchy quotes:

“The ongoing mainstreaming of new media art has many benefits, not least of which is to engage a new generation of artists and curators with the intellectual toolkit of art historical methodologies (and vice versa.) But something is being lost when new media art is denied existence as a legitimate or discrete subject; when it is assimilated into the art world only one-by-one as “contemporary” artworks and not studied as the collective tangled mix of media/artworks/technology/theory/industry/practice/community that it is.” Richard Rinehart

“We should not be frustrated by ignorant articles of people writing for the Art Market, which has other interests. Over the last fifty years, media art has evolved into a vivid cultural expression. [...] We therefore should not stop communicate, that digital art is able to deal with the big issues of our time, all thematized on festivals and meanwhile 200 biennials all over the world. We should not count on the art market, but we should remind our tax financed museum system (in Europe) that it is their job, by law, to document, collect and preserve the relevant art of the time.” Oliver Grau

#criticism

“all contemporary art needs to be media literate. For its part, New Media Art needs above all to be conversant with art history, and to have a working knowledge of contemporary art [...] This kind of argument could probably be made for much of the art formerly known as New Media Art, the real power of which today lies in what more and what else, compared to other practices, it can tell us about the destiny and topical nature of abstraction; racial and sexual issues; our globalized world; control and censorship; terrorism and climate change. The art of our time must be measured and assessed in these terms. In order to do so, art criticism must cast off its prejudices on the media nature or the social origin of what it is looking at, and learn to look inside and outside of the art world, and look for art where it is not expected to exist; it must lose that baggage of ignorance (technological on one hand, artistic on the other) that it still carries.”

 

#afterart

“if recognizing that we are living in a postmedia era is just a starting point, the integration of the art formerly known as New Media Art into the contemporary art world is, again, only the preliminary phase of a broader reconfiguration of art worlds. The continental drift has begun. When it will be over, we will be probably able to understand what the word “art” will mean in the new millennium.”

#postmedia

“Recognizing that we are living in a postmedia age is not a point of arrival, but a point of departure. It means recognizing that the digital revolution completely changed the conditions for the production and circulation of art, and that it is slowly but inevitably changing the ways in which art is experienced, discussed and owned. In these circumstances, art is becoming something completely different from what we were used to – and art worlds have to change accordingly, developing new values, new economies, new structures.”