This is such a nice coincidence... I am just now working on a text  
about death and the arts, and contemplating the way time based arts  
fit in there...

I have a question for you, for everybody on this list actually. Would  
you consider net art, software art and other new media arts time  
based? I do, but somebody told me they aren't. What is the exact  
definition of time based arts (I always thought it was plural?) and  
what is their position in the arts at large? I would welcome any good  
reading suggestions too...

best wishes,


On 4 Sep 2009, at 08:52, Gere, Charlie wrote:

> Another thought following on from my last post - perhaps the whole  
> issue between time-based art and object art is that of death. The  
> object presents us with an illusion of something whole, enduring.  
> We have the idea with most object-like works of art that we can see  
> it all at once, in an instant, and what we see will remain stable,  
> and enduring, which paradoxically gives it a sense of infinitude,  
> and thus perhaps allays our own fear of death. Curation is based on  
> defeating the effects of entropy and decay to preserve works of art  
> in a state of suspended animation, life-in-death.
> By contrast time-based arts operate in time, you need time to see  
> them, thus they imply ending and indeed can and do come to an end,  
> even if they then repeat or start again, and thus finitude and so on.
> Thus a work such as Hirst's Shark, supposedly a meditation on  
> death, in fact is its disavowal, whereas time-based and the  
> ironically-named 'live' arts actually engage in finitude and death.  
> The real irony is that they are therefore far more about life
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Curating digital art - on behalf of Gere,  
> Charlie
> Sent: Fri 04/09/2009 6:45 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] September 2009: update and "Real- 
> Time: Showing Art in the Age of New Media"
> Hi Crumbs
> Thought I would start discussion about the question of time-based  
> art with a few general thoughts, in anticipation of the conference
> It is obvious that the incursion of time-based art into the gallery  
> or museum space involves considerably more than simply the  
> inclusion of other forms of media. It offers rather a profound  
> challenge to a number of assumptions about the 'art work' as a  
> phenomenon, to do with its supposed autonomy, stability,  
> endurability. So far so obvious. What is perhaps interesting is to  
> think about the context in which this took place and how it  
> reflects other questions. The emergence of time-based art is  
> correlative and coeval with deconstructions of the autonomous  
> grounded self that had been a dominant feature of Western thinking  
> since Descartes. It is perhaps not surprising that many of the  
> pioneers of process, performance and time-based arts were extremely  
> interested in Eastern thinking, including Cage, Paik, many of those  
> involved with performance and happenings and so on, or in the  
> implications of the work of Heidegger and existentialism or in  
> Freud and psychoanalysis, all of which involved a critique of the  
> grounded cartesian self.
> In his book Lack and Transcendence David Loy looks at the role the  
> desire for fame plays in attempts to master the fear that we are  
> nothing. 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. (Here one might look at Tony Bennett's work  
> on the museum and gallery as disciplinary institutions, imposing an  
> exemplary discipline of spectatorship). By contrast time-based art,  
> interactive art, and all art involving some form of interaction  
> over time tend to do the opposite. Perhaps this may be a partial  
> explanation of the continued resistance to such work in mainstream  
> institutions