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.

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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

Schermata 07-2456848 alle 09.22.10

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

Re: Bishop’s “Digital Divide”

This is my response to Claire Bishop‘s essay “Digital Divide“, published in Artforum in September 2012 (also posted in the comments section of the article):

Reading this article was a pleasure, and a pain. Some of the points made here are really good, and I also felt a lot of empathy for many of the examples raised, such as the use of obsolete or dead media, or the “archival impulse”, which have been the polar stars of my curatorial and critical work so far.

The problem is that Bishop fails in formulating the main question, that is: contemporary art should respond to the digital age – why it doesn’t? In my opinion, this question should be reformulated this way: “why the mainstream art world, the small niche I belong to and I’m talking to hereby, doesn’t respond to the digital age?” Continue reading

Notes on the VIP Art Fair

As it often happens to me, I was late at the VIP Art Fair; and, of course, I forgot the closing time. Yesterday night I thought: «Ok, let’s leave now – I will check some few details tomorrow morning.» I forgot what the organizers said somewhere in their massive pr campaign: «it’s not a website; it is an event.» And this morning I was welcome by a sad message: «Welcome, Domenico Quaranta. Thank you for visiting VIP Art Fair. The 2011 fair has closed. See you again next year.» Too bad.
Actually, I didn’t have so many expectations. And no expectations also means no disappointment. Using the internet as a marketplace is not a new idea. And the fact that we had to wait 2011 to see an online art fair is, to me, just a proof of how much conservative the contemporary art world is. An online art fair would have been a surprise ten years ago. Today, it’s just a puer senex – just born, already obsolete. Today, a Facebook page can provide any of its users with much more than what the VIP Art Fair provided to sellers, collectors and the broader audience. And it never crashes, as Mark Zuckerberg says in The Social Network, and as VIP eventually did. Continue reading