Tuesday, July 1, 2014

[Yasmin_discussions] ART, NEW MEDIA, AND SOCIAL MEMORY

Dear All
I drafted this email earlier today before reading Roger/Frieder's post so now feel a little more confident about sending it as it also perhaps proposes a different way of perceiving the problem.
It seems to me the phrase 'preserving contemporary creativity' which Jon has used may carry some of the hallmarks of its own problem.  I haven't had a chance to read the new book yet but look forward to doing so.  Any form of genuine innovation requires letting go: deciding what not to preserve - break with, not take forward .....the question then more importantly becomes what do I leave behind? So the future then becomes freed or liberated from the past.  If it is all variable and continuously preserved there can be no differentiation of meaning and no curation.  The anchors we may wish to hold down waves of change so show off for the future may need to be invented for various kinds of practices. But what in future might people care about and what do they need to know? Might a more important lesson be that we learned to work with the evolving nature of materials and media and to not seek to hold onto everything especially that which is ephemeral? 
Here 's Gino Severini (ex Futurist) in 1946: (I cited this in an essay called Mind Over Media which I wrote last year). .
'Today poets and painters are striving to bring to the surface of their being things which once lay within them almost like a dream. Becoming aware of self, the notion of self, is one of the great laws of the development of man in history, and its affects the work of the spirit and concerns culture and art in a special way. The 'discovery of one's inner self' as Maritain would put it, is part of a natural need felt by the artist who seeks to have an even deeper awareness of his art, especially when great historical periods are in preparation or new cultural and social conditions are in formation which will bring new 'media' of expression....The history of people and civilizations is written by their art and not by their economics and industries and policies'.
It struck me as interesting partly because it was a very early use of the term new 'media', a term I prefer to avoid these days because it seems to miss the point but rethinking what Severini was saying about why we might need focus on newness or only on media was interesting.  But this was 1946.  Now if this vague term is foreground we may miss aspects of the materiality of important works and/or their relation to form, tradition, concept or even their adaptive, constructive, collaborative aspects which for me go beyond media and novelty to form something else worthy of a broader interdisciplinary critique.
As both Johannes and Roger have recently mentioned, the performative, time based nature of media based practices (open, evolving, emergent. contingent, collaborative, generative, networked etc etc) is importantly distinctive. Art historian Richard Wollheim in Art and Its Objects wrote that the work of art was a form of life.  If we follow this - and I find it appealing - then all preservation will allow for ongoing change and evolution rather than stasis. Perhaps innately thr challenge of preserving in the same form live artworks is philosophically difficult.  One of the ways to build an art historical record in my view is the preservation of underlying narratives and motivations behind making these works if not the programme, code, etc.. It seems to me this can be a gift to the next and to future generations.
all very bestB

On Monday, 30 June 2014, Jon Ippolito
Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media

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