Re: [-empyre-] Opening remarks on new media history

On 2/1/04 5:55 am, "Alan Sondheim" <> wrote:

> 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).
Was the Tasmanian teacher Leigh Hobba by any chance? An interesting artist
and character.

> 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 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.
Institutions define themselves through the fixing of information, the
establishment of structured and inflexible taxonomies. It is in their
interests, in the pursuance of institutional survival, that difference
becomes a static rather than motile element in the production of meaning.
When difference loses its variability, loses its auto-deconstructive
dynamism, then it loses its capacity for poetry and thus art becomes an
impossible aspiration.

Trying to create a space for aspiring artists to discover what it is they
might do and/or become within the institutional walls of the academy is
contradictory. All one can really do is seek to protect them from the dead
hand of the institution whilst they use the time and resources available as
well as they can, before the explicit pressures of "productivity" are forced
upon them.

> 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?
Bio-tech, smart-materials, etc?

The computer is a powerful instance of a type of thinking which actually
informs the development of all these technologies. Like all paradigms though
it paradoxically functions to blind us to future possibilities.



Simon Biggs

Research Professor
Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Senior Research Fellow
Computer Laboratory
University of Cambridge, UK

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