Re: [-empyre-] Opening remarks on new media history
In spite of all that's been written, I'm not sure what 'critical work in
new media' means - I can certainly understand it in terms of Lev's work or
Aarseth etc., but the field seems to me broken, and should be.
The best _art_ (installation, performance) teachers I've known were David
Askevold at NSCAD and an artist teaching at the Tasmanian School of Art,
Hobart - both required nothing at all of their students, but gave them the
freedom to explore anything from traditional painting to cutting-edge
electronics. Evaluation was based on the work itself, not on genre
(although I'm well aware of the arguments about this).
The first performance art classes I've known about were at Nova Scotia
(NSCAD). A rough history of the 'field' would include early works by Da
Vinci, Zuni clowns, Duchamp, Nijinsky's last dance, etc. But commonly,
there was a move from 'dance performance,' or 'music performance,' or even
'art performance' to performance - which kept things wide open. I think
this is the period of Gina Pane, Beuys, Acconci, through early Laurie
But when performance (instead of <attribute performance>, just like theory
<instead of attribute theory>, became tethered to classes, theory
accompanied it (performance theory of course), and the work became more
predictable, and also large-scale (thinking of say Robert Wilson). The
rough edges disappeared, but so did the dis/comfort of the audience -
think of the difference again between the Living Theater and Wilson.
I recognize the roughness of this description itself, but it would take a
long time to flesh out. My point is this - that institutionalization
rarely, if ever, deconstructs itself; it carries the seeds of genre and
manifesto within it (look at the arguments re: what's net.art and what's
not or what's web art and what's not or what's computer art and what's not
etc. etc.), and it feeds a certain kind of academia which can be
problematic - the covering of work by theory, the exhaustion of theory and
work, etc. etc.
Jazz has retained its vitality by moving elsewhere - who knows what jazz
is? Rap? Hiphop? There are class and race issues through all of this that
might be quite healthy.
If new media, by the way, is kept tethered to the computer - then what
about nanotech, embedded systems, electrical (rather than electronic)
work, video work?
Someone said to me yesterday - about a work - "It's so analog."
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