[artinfo] Re:[spectre]media art and dictatorial regimes

Andreas Broeckmann ab at mikro.in-berlin.de
Thu Jun 26 13:33:25 CEST 2008

hey armin,

i understand your point, and i concur with the problems you see. 
(although i doubt whether there is something that you can refer to as 
'the field as a whole', and i would also claim that this is nothing 
special for 'media art', but concerns any artist and cultural 
practicioner; or do you think that the moral responsibility of an 
artist working with digital media is different from, say, a 

while i have no connection at all to the show in china, i can only 
say that the people who i have been in touch with over the last 
months and who did go there, were generally very much aware of the 
political context, and they made conscious decisions to go to china 
in this current situation. some of them have - like others before - 
come back and said that they found the situation there much more 
complex than they thought. i just say this as a hint that some people 
have actually chosen to show their work *because* of the political 
situation in china today.

given that you also refer to political changes in other countries 
(which i find it difficult to still summarise as 'western'), the 
discussion comes back to the  general question about the political 
and moral responsibility of artists. (is it morally more problematic 
to go to china in 2008, than it would be to make an artwork for BMW, 
or to work, as an artist, in one of the military research compounds 
aka american universities.)

i really don't know, and i think it is important not to be too sure, 
and to respect the decisions that other people take, based on their 
own interpretation of the situation, and of what can be done, and of 
what form resistance might take.


>The currently running exhibition in beijing, synthetic times, and the
>holding of isea 2008 in singapure both raise the question of the
>compatibility of media art with dictatorial regimes. I am not commenting
>on the quality of individual art works, and surely a show as big as the
>beijing one contains at least a few good artworks, yet the field as a
>whole must ask itself the question if it has any potential of resistance
>vis-a-vis the cooptation of 'digital creativity' by regimes practicing
>totalitarian capitalism - especially as western countries themselves are
>on the tipping point of becoming electoral dictatorships whereby
>politics is replaced by technocratic crowd management and other
>techniques of 'authoritarian democracy'. it is clear that in times of a
>funding crunch many people are happy to show any work anywhere, but the
>institutions and individuals participating must ask themselves where
>they stand when they show work in an exhibition which on the whole is a
>sanitised version of media art from which all notions of dissens and
>social critique have been purged. if this is business as usual then it
>is not my business, sorry, I could not leave this unnoticed ...
>SPECTRE list for media culture in Deep Europe
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