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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  2004

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Subject:

heuristics / techno-culture

From:

Andreas Broeckmann <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Andreas Broeckmann <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Sep 2004 17:20:26 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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folks,

like others here, i am a bit out of sync with the discussion, currently sitting
on the train to rotterdam with the postings till Tue 7 Sep 2004 11:19:04 -0500
piled up in my inbox. i hope that some of these comments will still make sense
by the time they hit the list. besides, i enjoy this engaging discussion very
much!


i see two threads emerge from my notes:

- terminological heuristics

first, i would personally not think so much in terms of 'taxonomies' (they
remind me of rigid 18th-century tables and lists like the one Stephen Pope
produced for computer music), but in terms of 'vocabularies', as was suggested
early on in this discussion. also, for me the search for a useful language and
set of descriptive terms is always a _heuristical_ approach, what we are
looking for are always temporary crutches to get round the next corner, which
is why i share steve's irritation about these huge systems which go out of date
by the time they have been published.

i agree with Johannes Goebel (Sun, 5 Sep 2004 12:11:38 -0400, Re: Definitions)
and others that it is less interesting to try and find a definitive
understanding of what constitutes 'new media / art', but that such terms are
always used for (more or less conscious) strategic reasons - whether in an
attempt to delimit a specific field of practice, to convince funders, or to
assert professional legitimacy.

the question of 'benefit' or, as i would suggest, 'interests' connected to
certain approaches: for me, it is really a pragmatic question; for instance,
having recently been at ISEA, Read_Me and the ars electronica, does it make
sense to distinguish between the art works and artistic practices presented and
discussed at those different events, and if it does, how do we do it? or, in
the case of the transmediale competition: after seeing the insufficiencies of
the old competition categories (image, interaction, software), does it make
sense to structure the field internally (describing different types of artistic
practice), and to delimit it externally (from other forms of contemporary art
practice). i can understand Josie's suspicion against this move (Re:
power/control, Mon, 6 Sep 2004 17:11:08 +0100), but we disagree about the role
that a festival like transmediale can and should play: what Josie denounces as
a 'hierarchical system of selection, promotion, official recognition, award -
something that once again cuts out the truly
collective/anonymous/networked/feedbacked nature of creativity and production',
is - if you ask me - _curatorial practice_ that *has to* make choices,
selections, and create public attention for artistic practices. to assume that
this automatically and unavoidably 'cuts out the truly
collective/anonymous/networked/feedbacked nature of creativity and production'
seems a bit short-sighted, considering the effort that has been made, not only
by transmediale, to include a variety of art and creative practices. - to the
contrary, i would argue that, for instance, the creation of the *competition*
for _software art_ has actually helped to make this field of practice visible,
more than a 'democratic' structure like runme.org could have done, all on its
own; the complementarity of read_me/runme and the tm.software award is, for me,
an important case in point: each of them does something that the other cannot,
and each tries to do this well. (before apologising for transmediale's
hypocritical recuperation of artistic practice, i'd like to wait and see what
the jury of the re-formatted competition will come up with, and what our
conclusions are going to be from discussions like these.)

while patrick has voiced his concern about the possibility of a
soon-to-be-published classification system that would be conclusive (Mon, 6 Sep
2004 10:37:45 -0400: 'The pin will be through the thorax of the butterfly.'), i
believe in the possibility of a more heterogeneous approach; steve has pointed
to some examples of critical cartography, and i would like to put forward the
wikipedia as a site where a critical and diverse genealogy of media art could
be developed - i find this a very appealing project to pursue by a community
like this one.


- techno-culture

the second main theme that i find particularly interesting is the question
raised earlier about some sort of internal consistency of the field that we are
dealing with here. to be honest, i think that a rigorous debate would pull the
rug from underneath this 'we' and would make _us_ realise that we are really
after a number of very different things - some more related to specific
artistic traditions, others to political activism, yet others relating to
technological or scientific curiosities. they do, however, hold together - at
least for me (and i make this qualification deliberately) - in the sense that
many deal with the cultural role that _new_ technologies are playing today;
newness comes into the equation exactly because many of us, as artists,
curators, researchers, etc., are trying to make sense of the cultural
implications of the 'techno-cultural' social environment in which we live. and
this is, at least in part, driven by new technical products and services.
(steve, do you mean the same when you say media art is essentially
'technologically based'?)

a lot of our attention converges around the art practices that try to
articulate, critique and extrapolate from the _potentials_ that these
technologies hold. often, this happens in a recourse to historical
technologies, which is why a pure notion of 'new media art' seems of little
use. the reason why we mainly think about _media_ when we talk about new
technologies is that the notion of _media_ is connected to perception, so most
of the time we experience (perceive, communicate with) technologies through
media. (sometimes both are identical, sometimes not.) in that sense i also
follow patrick's notion of the avantgarde, as a movement that tries to tackle
cultural and social questions early on, formulating culture in the making. (and
one could easily describe the electronic and media art scene, emerging since
the 1960s and flourishing in the 90s, as a _movement_ proper. maybe a bit less
self-conscious, but still very much aware of its avantgarde status, i
believe.)


so much for now. the train is pulling into rotterdam cs.

greetings,
-a

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