Sunday, July 8, 2007


The age of the art experience is over. What was once a direct address to the soul today is a way of addressing the statistical aggregate. The blockbuster art exhibit is more significant for its turnstile figures than for the soul-changing moment when art speaks to viewer. New media art matters to the extent it speaks to crowds, and its reality is measurable in the modification of behaviours at the scale of populations.

If (as Stiegler seems to say) personal memory has been replaced by databases, the new unconscious is networked. No longer the tragic history of individual desire and loss, the new social unconscious is the creation of aggregate habit and statistical likelihoods. At its heart is a new void, and the capacities of any new art are dependent on this lack.

1 comment:

Terry Flaxton said...

Sean, Possibly. Call me old fashioned, but I think your evaluation is born of a prior strategy where dialectics was king.The contemporary and for me mostly bankrupt media artist, does in fact do what you suggest. Simple polar opposites provide an aesthetic which for my money is near kindergarten level in terms of elegance and sophistication. The void is the place of work if you accept the overall analysis that predicates the kind of art you describe. But of course, there is always an alternative - and in a more sophisticated world many, many alternatives. I think we should park new digital media and it's obverse in the 'car park of despair' because fundamentally as a 'car' it shares the ills of the road system in its design. Sorry, terrible, terrible analogy. Bottom line is though, there is so much more to art than that described by some post-post-post-reactive stance because art is a form of love and love is a form that is quite a bit more sophisticated than our poets, mathematicians and scientists would have us believe. We're just waiting for the new formulations of what is possible that come from a wider attitude than traditional histories have provided us with. As the old phrase says: Ars Longa Vita Brevis - to paraphrase - screw digital art it's too limiting, let's get beyond all that kids stuff.