[artinfo] New Media Art Mythologies | cool media hot talk show

Tania Goryucheva tangor2 at xs4all.nl
Thu May 31 17:18:42 CEST 2007

   D.I.Y. talk show on art & media
   TOPIC:  New Media Art Mythologies
   SPEAKERS: Geert Lovink and Armin Medosch
   QUESTIONS: ask-it-yourself now and during the show at
   Tuesday June 5, 20.30 CET
   video stream and interface for online participation:

   location: De Balie, Amsterdam http://www.debalie.nl (bring your
   laptops and mobiles)

   Recent discussions about (new) media art concerned a wide range of
   issues: starting from the validity of the term itself and ending with
   questioning the very premises of the modes of distinction through
   which the (new) media art field constitutes itself as a form of art,
   cultural practice, social context, institutional domain, and
   discourse. The feeling of a certain Rubicon, provoking
   self-introspective reflections, was expressed by many. The coming
   edition of Cool Media Hot Talk Show on the topic "New Media Art
   Mythologies" will welcome persistent critical voices of the media art
   scene - Geert Lovink and Armin Medosch. They will present their
   judgements and arguments regarding the current critical stage in the
   development of new media art. The debates will address socio-cultural
   position of new media art in a historical perspective, which both
   speakers are discussing extensively in their writings.
   Preliminary suggested focal points are:
   - The marginalised position of new media art within the broader
   cultural context.
   - New media art vis-à-vis changing trends of cultural policies.
   - Discursive troubles: in search for mediatory theories and media art
   - New media between aesthetics and politics.
   It seems that the media art community has got itself into a trap by
   creating a rather contradictory mythology, which very much concerns
   the idea of being open to disciplinary and discursive confluxes and at
   the same time being immune to the biases of the criticised cultures.
   Geert Lovink pinpoints a range of critical issues which mark the
   contradictory relationships of (new) media art with the broader
   socio-cultural context, more specifically: art institutions, "hard
   science", media industries, and cultural policy mediators. He sees the
   contradictions between current cultural-political trends under an
   increasingly conservative agenda, and internal intentionalities of
   media art, which lead to decrease of funding and institutional support
   as a result.(1) Armin Medosch stipulates that the critical agenda of
   media art in relation to mainstream media politics is its distinctive
   value, and should be put forward as a driving force behind artistic
   practices. He promotes the idea of "Open Source Culture" as an
   integral socio-cultural movement in which artists can and do
   participate actively in order to develop and exercise alternative
   models of engagement into creative production.(2)
   The question of media seems to be crucial for the identity of (new)
   media art, which in itself has a lot to do with the values and
   socio-historical conditions of art as such. How does the issue of
   media affect self-determination, or identity, of (new) media art
   communities in relation to the broader cultural context, and what
   exactly renders the relationships between (new) media art
   practitioners and this context? It is not just a matter of being
   conscious and critical about the politics of media in a broader sense.
   It is also very much about redefining the context and agenda of art as
   such through exploiting this distinctive media consciousness, which
   has always been an intention at least. Here a dilemma occurs: to
   comply with its own propositions based on a disengagement from
   promoting ideas and values of dominant cultures (whether it is the art
   market, media industries, popular culture, popular politics), the
   media art community in all its variety, groups and individuals, should
   find its own sustainable platform for existence. On which ground can
   it be established? Should it be done under a common, umbrella and
   agenda? Or are centrifugal survival strategies on the basis of
   tactical alliances, whether with science, media industries, other art
   domains, cultural and social movements, more productive and likely
   options?  Armin Medosch calls for dissociation of techno-determinist
   art, which rather fascinates itself with technology, from art which
   explores social dimension of technology through engaging with
   activist, Do-It-Yourself,  Open Source and other critical
   socio-cultural movements adopting "hacker ethics", while crossing and
   blurring the borders in between. Geert Lovink outlines four possible
   "models to deal with the current stagnation" together with their
   down-sides: a semi-autonomous existence on the basis of
   interdisciplinary collaborations; transcendence of (new) media art
   into the existing institutional art practices; withdrawal from the art
   domain altogether; merging with the creative industries.

   Both Armin Medosch and Geert Lovink indicate the absence of a strong
   theoretical back-up for (new) media art practice as a crucial set
   back. Indeed fascination with interdisciplinarity, resulting in
   discursive mash-ups, makes it confusing: neo-marxist critique of
   industrial cultural production and mass media goes in hand with
   inventive post-structuralist ideas about producer-consumer relations,
   borrowings from scientific discourses, communication theories, etc,
   while high-brow pessimism and techno-snobism is accompanied by
   communitarian euphoria and advocacy of openness and all-inclusivity.
   Add to it the desperate attempts to provide audiences with explanatory
   thresholds through mapping of key concepts next to exhibits, and the
   absence of strong media art criticism, and the public gets totally
   confused. It is not that there is a need for discursive unity, of
   course. At the end (new) media art is an extremely young art, and the
   search for self-articulation is an important process. Although even at
   this point two essential things are already missing: a healthy,
   preferably external, mediatory art criticism, and strong theoretical
   methodologies which would help to demystify existing obscurities.
   The important issue which lacks serious critical attention is the
   political dimension of media art practice. Implications of both
   political causes and effects of artistic messages are somewhat
   overshadowed by the general motto "be critical". A more politically
   aware approach in discussions of media art, beyond declarative
   generalities, is definitely needed. Geert Lovink pinpoints a range of
   political aspects of media art practice and its discourse to be
   addressed, such as post-colonial issues, the weakness of links with
   contemporary social movements, while Armin Medosch advocates
   structural creative resistance of Open Source Culture to the
   capitalist society of control on the basis of awareness about its
   modus operandi.
   The historical conditions of media art are changing. So does the
   attitude to it. The question is what the media art community is going
   to do with it?
   1. All references to Geert Lovink: "New Media Arts: In Search of the
   Cool Obscure. Explorations beyond the Official Discourse" to be
   published in "Zero Comments", Routledge New York, August 2007;
   texts published online:
   2. All references to Armin Medosch: the statement for
   texts published online:

   Geert Lovink (NL/AU) is a media theorist, critic, currently holds the
   position of senior researcher/associated professor at Amsterdam
   University. He is the organiser of conferences, festivals and (online)
   publications and the founder of numerous Internet projects, such as
   www.nettime.org and www.fibreculture.org. More info:
   http://www.networkcultures.org/geert/  and

   Armin Medosch (AT/UK) is a writer, artist and curator specialized in
   media theory, media art and network culture. His recent work includes
   the exhibition WAVES http://rixc.lv/waves/,  the new live event format
   PLENUM with Kingdom of Piracy http://kop.kein.org/, and the research
   project The Next Layer, an investigation into the culture of open
   sources. More info: http://theoriebild.ung.at,




   here & now: http://www.coolmediahottalk.net/

   the winner will be selected through direct and open voting

   De Balie - Centre for Culture and Politics,
   Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10


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