Greetings CRUMB, I would like to reply to the sub-thread on static objects
vs TBA and the point about Lacan, as well as express some
thoughts on multi-user experiences vs "relational aesthetics",
As Roger suggested, the new situation of interest may prove to be
multiple-user, "non-scored" interactive distributed works. Perhaps at that
point "interactive art" and "relational aesthetics" will dovetail, as
theoretically they already seem to have so much in common. But for the
moment they seem to occupy largely separate spheres (of vastly different
While I acknowledge Armin's criticism of the "straw man" rhetorical
strategies that have been leveled against contemporary art curators by Net
Art for example, I nevertheless continue to find TBA's relative exclusion
intriguing. I had the chance, following a lecture here in Tokyo, to pose a
question about this to Nicolas Bourriaud, who has often cited the
ontological shift brought about by networking technologies, and his response
was to say that the true impacts of a new medium are often first seen
elsewhere citing the French Impressionists as the first to have properly
understood the epistemological implications of photography (or something
like that ;-).
Charlie began the discussion by asking "I wonder if the continued fetish of
and investment in the object somehow relates to this need to assert an
autonomous self. In the gallery it presents a kind of ontological mirror
reflecting back and stabilising our own sense of self in its apparent
stability and autonomy." Perhaps in response Curt has stated, "the medium
itself doesn't have to be "generative" (random seed software, aleatoric
instructions) in order for it to create an "emergent" experience. A "static"
object can create an emergent experience."
In pondering why interactive art in specific seems to remains so niche from
the POV of the contemporary art, I refer here specifically to a sub-genre
within TBA, what, according to David Rokerby, is one of the dominant tropes
in interactive art: the transforming mirror <
http://homepage.mac.com/davidrokeby/mirrorsmirrors.html> (I wont both
listing all the noted interactive artists have produced installations in
this genre, as I know this audience is already plenty familiar with this
type of work). Here, however, I would like to venture an opposite reading of
Lacan to that proposed by Charlie.
Mark Hansen (06) reads the aforementioned genre through the lens of
phenomenology --by interacting we gain awareness of sub-conscious embodied
habits and so on... While I find the reading brilliant, I nevertheless ask,
haven't we built the Cartesian Cogito into a bit of a straw man argument
here as well? Might an alternate Lacanian reading not be that these
aforementioned projects in fact reproduce a kind of 'interactive media
ideology', if you will? That in their playful bodily interactions they
reinforce the illusion of a stable centered self that is fundamentally at
odds with the Lacanian split subject.
Coming back to multi-user, "non-scored" interactive level, I am thinking
here of an article on Bourriaud's "Relational Aesthetics" by Claire Bishop
in October. Focussing on the works of two of Bourriaud's favourite artists,
Liam Gillick and Rirkrit Tiravanija, she critiques that the way their idea
of community, and the keyword "context" (also often used by emerging
networked art practicioners, specifically by locative artists). Bishop turns
here to Laclau and Mouffe, for whom, following Lacan, subjectivity is not a
rational, and self-transparent, but rather is decentered and incomplete,
arguing that context must demarcate certain limits. For her it is precisely
this act of exclusion that is disavowed in relational art’s preference for
“open-endedness”, what Michael earlier called the 'open artwork'.
While this may sounds at first like a return to the institutional criticism
of 1970's, some of which has been cited in this thread, what I think is
relevant for our purposes is how Bishop seeks to problematize the both the
notions of the single user, as well as the idea of community. Not to import
politics into an debate around aesthetic, but for those of us working in the
fine arts in an age where social networking technologies and interactive
media seem to drive world economies, according to Bishop it is important
that these categories don't, as she puts it, "exist as undifferentiated
inﬁnity, like cyberspace".
Signing off from the undifferentiated inﬁnity of cyberspace,
On Mon, Sep 7, 2009 at 1:29 AM, Jon Thomson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Speaking as an artist, I tend to find 'variability' of an artwork (as
> already mentioned by Curt) one of the more useful prisms through which
> artworks can be characterised, understood and ultimately preserved. For a
> start it accommodates lots of different types of artwork all in one go
> --from a Roman statue (for example) to a navigable data-cloud (perhaps), and
> the durational quality of a work, its time-based aspect or participatory
> nature all become comparable facets of the given artwork under the notion of
> a work's variability, alongside weight, staging requirements, colour,
> dimensions etc...
> In the case of my hypothetical roman statue, it might last a long time
> (millennia) and while it may have started off brightly coloured and be part
> of a greater whole or group of works, it may end up worn, bare, unique and
> with a few bits missing by the time it is preserved and curated by a museum.
> In short it is not a very variable artwork, it lasts a long time and takes
> a long time to change, but by the time it is curated and preserved in some
> way it will never be the same thing it started out being.
> In the case of an artwork that amounts to being a navigable data cloud (in
> my example), it might not last long at all, and it may change more than the
> artist might wish it to (even) in that short time. At some point an
> institution might decide to preserve and curate it, although that's yet to
> happen much with this kind of thing. In short it is quite a variable
> artwork and will change a lot in a short period or even expire, and by the
> time it is curated and preserved in some way it will not be the same thing
> it started out being or may simply be documentation.
> On 5 Sep 2009, at 21:36, Rosanne Altstatt wrote:
> Hello CRUMB readers,
>> The different threads within this thread on time-based arts in the
>> institution have been really enjoyable thus far. I look forward to their
>> continuation this month and would like to also like to put in my 2 cents on
>> a very basic, yet practical part of showing TBA from the perspective of
>> curating for an audience with no special knowledge in TBA.
>> compile and post your thoughts here on how showing time-based art is
>>> different to showing art objects. We are particularly interested in
>>> gathering first hand curatorial knowledge about how art which uses
>>> the Internet, interactivity, social systems, or real-time computing,
>>> is different from video, live art, or performance.
>> It's difficult to put Internet etc. on one side and video, live art etc.
>> on the other, but it would probably derail the conversation to quibble about
>> that right now.
>> I've found that the heart of the problem in showing any kind of time-based
>> art is the audience's expectation to apply traditional modes of reception to
>> TBA. An example is the viewer only looking at something for no more then 3
>> seconds to ascertain if a work is immediately visually stimulating. How does
>> one get away from that or use it to one's advantage?
>> Forget about turning on a computer in the gallery, accessing the proper
>> URL and walking away. Interesting and appropriate exhibition architecture
>> and staff on hand to talk about the work should be the bare minimum of
>> requirements. Accompanying programming designed to bring the audience into a
>> dialogue with and about the artwork - and with each other - is really where
>> we should be. I ask the artists for their cooperation with this because I
>> wouldn't want to put there work into a carnival of my own devising, but I do
>> want artists to be aware of visitors' viewing habits when they are in an
>> TBA is not just time, but experiencing time and the experience that
>> unfolds in time. Don't worry, I'm not going all "experience economy" on
>> everybody. I'm just saying that a work which is social by nature (as is
>> Internet, interactivity, social systems etc) can benefit greatly from a
>> certain sociability in its curatorial presentation.
>> Yes, art objects etc. can benefit from this as well, but I feel that
>> setting and delivering the scene to break the modes of reception viewers
>> have learned for painting and sculpture (no matter how outdated these modes
>> are for painting and sculpture) is what's needed to get the most out of
>> putting TBA in the institution. Delivering (and mediating) the artwork to
>> the viewer is, after all, the reason the institution is there.
>> Rosanne Altstatt
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