Art for Networks (2002)

This exhibition is discussed in New Media in the White Cube and Beyond and has caught my eye mainly because of the range of works that were included within the show. Sarah Cook describes this show as “a travelling group exhibition focusing on a practice engendered by new media (“networking”) presented in a range of media and art forms”

Cook discusses the need for museums to change how they interact with artworks, and describes the downsides of trying to display new media art projects within this environment. As she goes on to discuss alternatives to the traditional museum exhibition this particular show is used as a case study. Comparing the show to a software programme she states:

A premise of the project was that it could change its installation and checklist with each new gallery exhibiting it, in essence offering an ever-changing data flow that could be modified to demonstrate different aspects of each project and to produce different outcomes, depending on the audiences and the organisers.

The show function as one of the first exhibitions that featured new media art to cross the boundary into the white cube space and though not focussing on the effect of the technology as part of the show, the idea of the network takes forefront

The context for the art (its interconnectedness in a network, computer generated or not, that involved an audience of active participants) says something significant about its content – in part by describing the process behind the making of the artwork

I think this is quite an interesting topic to look at, this show demonstrates the networks ability to adapt and change to different venues that serve different purposes (with reference to new media projects or otherwise).

I also like to see shows that incorporate both new media and traditional artworks

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My idea of the Digital Renaissance

The term itself meaning ‘re-birth’ seems a fitting title for the artwork being created in the 21st century; the rise of digital technology has caused the world to go through major transformations, a whole new world when compared to say the 19th century or even the early 20th century. The speed of technological development at points seems to be an unconscious progression, new gadgets and devices are constantly streaming onto the market that we hardly have time to realise their importance before they are upgraded and considered old and dated. The world just now is going through a digital rebirth as we constantly rely on technologies functioning in order to keep everything running smoothly, to communicate and increasingly to buy and share with each other.

The Digital Renaissance however, unlike its predecessors, exists globally and not within a certain location. Like the old Renaissance painters developing perspective and other issues within painting sculpture etc. I see a comparison with the artists of the 21st century created a new ‘perspective’ of things with the use of digital technologies. It also continues to be a fluid and ever changing re birth of art into the digital era as a result of the rapid development of technology, meaning that there are no distinct characteristics as yet of what digital artworks look like.

It’s something I need to think about more but these are my initial thoughts on the Digital Renaissance

Hardware/Software

Just started reading New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, only read the introductory chapter but one question that has stood out for me when looking at the preservation of digital artworks is the question of the hardware and software that is used in the artwork (If the artwork uses digital technologies as the medium itself)

Seeing as technology is moving at such a rapid rate, how will that affect works that rely on a particular hardware format that is becoming obsolete, will the work die out and cease to exist when more modern hardware cannot accomodate for its content. Internet works as well that rely on software can fall under the same category, by looking at early works of net.art for example, that were created in the 90’s, they seem so basic now despite being created not that long ago, is it only a matter of time before they cannot be viewed anymore because the technology is so out of date.

The preservation of digital artworks hasn’t really crossed my mind before but hopefully this book has some good stuff in it

How technology changed art; photography and motion

Been reading an interesting book called Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture by Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, which has got me thinking more about how technology has changed art. In this post I hope to expand some of the basic points I touched on in my first post about it, starting with photography and motion. One point I made:

Technologies such as photography and video provided artists with the ability to capture events and moments in time that would have otherwise have been depicted through painting or sculpture.

I still think this point is valid when discussing the development of photography and film in relation to the arts, however Sturken and Cartwright bring up some interesting points in relation to how these technologies rose to the level of popularity they have, taking them as a whole and not simply within an artistic field. When discussing the invention and influence of photography, the idea that these technologies have changed the way we view the world around us is briefly discussed, however the emphasise shifts onto society’s role in the development of these technologies. In this quote Sturken and Cartwright highlight the importance of technologies such as photography have had on society however try to make the reader question the influence of society on the development of photography:

It can be argued that technologies have some agency – that is, that they have important and influential effects on society but that they are also themselves the product of their particular societies and times and the ideologies that exist within them and within which they are used. (pg.184)

Society’s need for the introduction is also discussed, fields such as science and medicines need for documentation being examples, the emphasis focusing on the ‘need’ of society to possess these technologies as progression continues:

Photography emerged as a popular visual technology because it fit certain emerging social concepts and needs of the time – modern ideas about the individual in the context of growing urban centers, modern concepts of technological progress and mechanisation, modern concepts of time and spontaneity, the desire to contain nature and landscape in mechanically reproducible form, and the rise of bureaucratic institutions in the modern state interested in documentation and classification. (pg.185)

To take an early example of photography I have included a motion study created by Eadweard Muybridge:

This example is typical of Muybridge’s work, usualy depicting the nude figure in a range of different situation or performing various tasks. For these studies it could be argued that Muybridge was interested in the study of the human form in its natural state and could have merit within medical or scientific fields (The use of the body in these photographs could fit in well with my original research idea.) These works also bring up the idea of motion within photography or the idea of documenting a process. Sturken and Cartwright make reference to an experiment undertaken by Muybridge to investigate whether or not a horse, whilst running, will have all four legs off the ground at any given time, the experiment proving that the horse would for an instant be like this. The idea of documenting motion can be found not only in early photographs such as this, but also within paintings such as Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase no.2:

Following on from this the idea of the Zoetrope is discussed, an invention used by magicians and travelling performers that grouped a series of images together to give the impression of movement. These would consist of inner drums and a light source, each individual would look through a peephole to see the images moving in a rapid sequences in a circular motion, Muybridge’s horse images serve as a good example of this:

The development of the projector can be seen as a key event in the development of this technology, for these previous examples of motion within the Zoetropes were designed for the individual, this changed with introduction of the projector, allowing groups of people to view films presented on celluloid. I will research more into this as I haven’t done much reading on it and theres no point writing about it just now.

In relation to the creation of art I think a lot of this information has improved my understanding of how art objects developed to incorporate these technologies. The thing that stand out the most for me is the need to document motion, or to capture a moment in time that really couldn’t be expressed with mediums like painting. I think it’s relevant to include my second bullet point in my original post about technology and art:

Documentation of projects could be argued to be one of the fundamental elements of performance art and other works that involve real time aspects, without them would anyone have witnessed performances or developed an interest in this method of creating art. The documentation allowed viewer to witness the works by bringing them into the gallery environment regardless of where they were created.

Even though artistic groups like performance and video art where not present at this time, the development of photography and cinema is a crucial aspect to the working methods of these movements and beyond into the world of 21st century art. Again to sum up, for me the ability to document motion has been the fundamental element of how these technologies have changed the course of art practice. I’ll finish with this quote about the continuous development of these technologies

It is important to remember that each new form of visual technology builds on the code of previous technologies but that each constitutes as well a kind of epistemic shift.

Raphael mash-up

Again just messing about with Renaissance paintings within photoshop, adding colour and copy pasting them into different places. This one is Raphael’s The Deposition

Didn’t realise at the time but it actually reminds me of Gilbert and George works, the main points being the use of colour and the tiled effect.

Trying to get the glitchy effect into it

Digital Renaissance

Messing about with portraits from the Renaissance within Photoshop, been reading alot about how these artists were trained with I will make posts about in the near future. This art movement has always had a particular attraction to me, I remember my mum taking me to an gallery when I was younger and seeing some of these works and other fresca paintings which to this day remain some of my favourites.

Exerts from Dissertation (aspects of appropriation.)

Taken small sections out the dissertation, not too sure if they will make sense individually but they discuss aspects of appropriation. The dissertation was called “Has the digital revolution transformed Dada into Data? An investigation into the works of Eva and Franco Mattes to explore net.arts relationship with Dada”.

Appropriation in relation to Dada

The use of appropriation adopted by many Dada’s have also left a profound influence on Eva and Franco and the Net.art movement, as well as many other artists and art movement throughtout the 20th and 21st centuries. In the previous example of Adolf the Superman (1931) we can see Heartfield’s use of borrowed images combining them to create a new image, something that is also seen in Hannah Höch’s (1889 – 1978) work Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (1919) (Fig.2).

9“Assemblages of everyday materials like cardboard, wire, train tickets, and newspaper fragments” (Joseph, 2003) was a common feature in Dadaist work.

Fig.2

Sturken and Cartwright, (2009) state: “appropriation is traditionally defined as taking something for oneself without consent” (Sturken, Cartwright: 2009:pg83). This action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission is an aspect that features heavily in the work of Eva and Franco, the use of appropriation within an artistic context is not a new thing; going back centuries artists have reused and reworked ideas previous to their generation and indeed from artists of their own, in order to create new works. Picher (2009) states: “The act of making art and visual culture began with appropriation; borrowing images, sounds, concepts from the surrounding world and reinterpreting them as art.” (Picher, 2009) Picher emphasises the idea that essentially nothing is original; everything has been adopted or “stolen” from another context. One artist who has caused a considerable amount of controversy in his time, and arguably one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century, is Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968). His famous series, the Readymades, created around the 1910’s, adopted characteristics of appropriation and changed the way in which artists created works, moving away from painting and traditional sculpture. Duchamp took everyday objects from around him and displayed them as art objects, the readymade as described by Beyn and Strange(2002) is “an everyday article which the artist declares to be an artwork and exhibits without major alterations” (Bell et al, 2002, pg.338) The works can be seen as “conceptual”, preceding the works created by the conceptual art movement of the 1960’s, and leaving a profound influence of contemporary artists and movements such as the Young British Artists and Net.art. Nicholson (2009) states in relation to the YBA’s: “The subject matter is varied but shows clearly the influence of Marcel Duchamp, in the prominence given to conceptual art, found objects and unconventional, even humorous interpretations of everyday life.” (Nicholson, 2009).

Fig.3

Duchamp’s most notable readymade, Fountain (1917) (Fig.3), is a good example of appropriation within an artistic context. Created for, and rejected by the American Society of Independent Artists, the work simply consisted of a white urinal placed on its back with the inscription R.Mutt 1917 on its side. Ades, Cox and Hopkins (1999), provide a contextual background to the piece. Taken from a statement by Duchamp about fountain he states: “The only works of art America has given are plumbing and her bridges.”(Ades, Cox, Hopkins: 1999:pg127) This quote gives us an insight into the thinking behind fountain. Duchamp saw the making of this piece as a tribute to American engineering, rather than depicting this in the form of a painting or a sculpture he has chosen to conceptually represent this with a piece of American engineering itself. Also the title fountain, gives connotations of a monument situated in a city or palace to commemorate something, here Duchamp has replaced the traditional fountain with a urinal, giving it monumental status. The authors of Marcel Duchamp (1999) describe this as a “disguised critique of an incipient nationalism and American cultural life.” (Ades, Cox,Hopkins:1999:pg129). Sturken and Cartwright also make reference to this cultural use of appropriation saying: “Cultural appropriation has been used quite effectively by artists seeking to make a statement that opposes the dominant ideology”, (Sturken, Cartwright: 2009:Pg.83)

This type of work has been carried out several times by Duchamp; by appropriating objects such as the urinal, along with bike wheels, stools and shovels, he gave them new meanings within a gallery setting. This rejection of the “existing definitions of art” ” (Tate / Glossary /Anti-art) refers back to Anti-art; challenging the traditional methods of art, namely paint and sculpture, which were being practiced by the majority of artists at that time. The influence of the readymades has manifested itself in the working methods of many artists up until the present day, highlighting them as some of the most important works of the 20th century.

 

 

Appropriation in relation to Net.art

Digital uses of appropriation, which feature heavily in the works of Net.art, are found under the section “Specific features of net.art” and states: “Collaboration without the consideration of appropriation of ideas” (Bookchin, Shulgin, 1999). Appropriative aspects present in Pop art,

25such as the use of cultural images are found in net artworks such as Vuk Cosic’s (b.1966) Net.art per se(CNN interactive) (1996)(Fig.11) where Cosic has copied the CNN website,

commemorating a meeting of artists and theorists in May 1996.

Fig.11

The CNN website, at this time, was one of the first news websites to adopt a 24 hour approach to the circulation of news. This ability to access news at any time for free on CNN, contributed to its importance within popular culture, which led the net.artists to create works that adopted “a serious engagement with popular media, a belief in parody and appropriation, skepticism towards commodified media information and a sense of interplay of art and life.” (Greene, 2004, pg.54), this interplay of art and life is also referred to in the manifesto as: “The utopian aim of closing the ever widening gap between art and everyday life” (Bookchin, Shulgin, 1999), ideas previously explored in Dada and Pop art. In this work, the use of appropriation has a profound Duchampion influence that comes in the form of a “digital readymade”, where Cosic has appropriated the CNN website in a similar fashion to Duchamp’s urinal. His influence on the net.art movement is reference by Greene in relation to Cosic: “Cosic announced that net artists where ‘Duchamp’s ideal children’.” (Greene, 2004, pg.97)

The use of photomontage and collage found in the examples of John Heartfield and Hannah Höch is also present in Mark Napier’s (b.1961) Shredder 1.0 (1998) and Harwood(b.1960)/Mongrel’s Uncomfortable Proximity (2000)(figures 12 and 13 respectively)

Fig.12 Fig.13

The Shredder( Fig.12) can compare to the collage works already seen in examples such as Hannah Höch and ‘Uncomfortable proximity’ are similar to John Heartfield. The shredder, that takes websites and deconstructs the code, produces abstract compositions that reflect on the collage work created by Dadaists such as Höch, and also features in the Hybrids works created by Eva and Franco which will be examined later. The Tate website explains Harwood’s appropriation of images from artists such as Turner and explains: “the images have been created in extreme close up, fed into a computer and then combined with other pictures from the faces and flesh of Harwood, his friends and family.” The type of working method has previously been seen in relation to John Heartfield’s image of Hitler, combining several images to create a new one.