On Wed, 1 Aug 2001 18:37:37 +0100, Mathew Kabatoff <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Do you consider yourself a content of context provider?
>In your opinion what is the difference, relationship and intersection
>between content and context?
I just joined the list and found two interesting postings from Michael Kabatoff. The report about the Banff meeting was
particularly useful for those who didn't attend it. Good to keep track on how these meetings are bridging 'pre' and 'post-web'
media. Today’s scene, when even interactivity seems an obsolete discussion I am always pleased to see any effort to close
gaps between media that were supposed to be contaminating each other with no precedence in history.
No more than a couple of years ago the interface was said to be the key element to experience content [Lev Manovich – A
Theory of Cultural Interfaces]. Context may be the deal for now but I really want to separate what is mereley hype from what
really matters. The first time I’ve heard about a sort of confront content-context it sounded like a natural conflict for me – I found it
written in a text by Roy Ascot seven years ago. Now I feel that there is something else behind the emphasis that makes me
think about an open-ended relativism where one artist push his convictions [sometimes dogmas] against another. I wonder
how true would be other assertions like: the medium is the content, the context is the medium, the medium is dead, the content
is the context or we can foresee many other responsibilities for the artists today. The only rule I find is that of the instability of all
media. And I guess this list seem the best place to have my cloudy thoughts clarified.
Context seems to have a parallel with the way we understand ready-made [a wrong object in a right time in a safe and precise
place – swapping the subject can make it even better] or when a video/film-artist deals with found-footage, the way Paik used to
re-process his videos depending on the… context (!?), or how Sophie Calle used to deal with works such as Lost Wallet or the
Venetian Suite – just mentioning a random range of possibilities to understand and apply the terminology to other ways of
producing conceptual art. Not so many artists actually ‘create’ context. It’s more like a given subject/matter that can be
appropriated and turned into art by an enlightened creator. But such subversion used to be the core of the experiences from the
60’s or it is exactly what Fluxus has helped me to think about what media-art can be.
So what is a ‘media-artist’ today? Do you think such a concept no longer applies at all? "What next’ is really the point? Please,
don’t consider that as a naïve question. It’s a relief to see artists dealing with the limitation of systems such as PDA’s, pagers,
SMS, Wap, or by reinventing the function of systems originally designed for merely functional purposes – that’s what I have been
trying to do. But as I see it, it is not so different from what happened with the videotape, the web or other communication
systems [there is even a comfortable sensation when I see artists dealing with systems far beyond communication systems.
Probably there is a similar feeling when you watch a movie or experience an installation, and you really appreciate it, but it
doesn’t fit very well in the way you produce your artwork. So you may celebrate the diversity in the art scene. That’s wonderful.
For curators, this sensation might be slightly different – please, let me know how wrong I am].
I’m not nostalgic at all. My work covers a wide range of media, from old-fashioned ones [such as video, film, installation and
interactive stuff] to new experiences with media that are just starting to appear [and I really don’t know for sure how to del with
that]. So I think there is no prejudice in my way of thinking, as either the context and the content are equally important for me.
I remember when there was a promise that all these media would be merged on the web or by converging its techniques and
procedures. I have to confess that it happened in a more radical way than I could expect. Again, an artist should celebrate such
challenge and radicalism. The dark side is that the circuits for digital arts are so fragmented that they currently ignore each
other. Through my own experience, going from a video festival to a new media conference is like to visit two different worlds.
Many of the interesting young artists that are doing nice works today started it exactly in the intersection between the ‘pre’ and
‘post-web’ ages [somewhere lost from 1995 to 200]. For creative purposes, the in-between is a nice place to be. New media
still has no clear definition – and it might be good! We are not in full control of anything, are we? When one can talk so seriously
about a subject it may mean that it is over [as far as I remember that was the Baudrillard’s excuse/argument when he invited us
to forget Foucault]. Despite I can’t see clearly the reasons of the contest between context and content, I can clearly distinguish
one from the other. That’s not the point. For instance, I would rather consider that one is inside another, and if I am not missing
something very important, they can be swapped instantly – just like the words suggest, for instance, as a shockwave-based-
concrete-poem for the web can do, just by exchanging a small letter.
So please, would you let me know where can I find more out of it. A suggestion of recent bibliography about such a dichotomy
would be perfect.
*sorry about the poor English
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