[-empyre-] networked self and the netopticon > how to challenge the structure?

Heidi May mayh at ecuad.ca
Mon Jan 31 10:21:36 EST 2011

Hi Simon T,

I've been wracking my brain on this one.... Can you expand on what you  
mean with your first two sentences here:

> I see in this no escape from representation. And the danger of the
> critique of the Netopticon as an insistent refusal or resistance to
> endangering and bringing harm upon the current representational order.
> As it is manifested in economics - neoliberalism; science -
> technologism; reason - discursivity or dialogism; politics -
> identitarian representation; art - communication and advertising;
> culture - consumerism; cultural movement - postmodern/post(mortem)
> stasis; critique - deconstruction; knowledge - information; erotics -
> sentimental pornography or real-life drama; being - being seen.

Are you saying that a critique of the Netopticon through art is  
limited to the areas you have listed (ie. neoliberalism)? that  
societal structures prevent us from being able to be critical? This I  
can definitely understand and is what I often wonder about, yet still  
remain optimistic that artists should remain diligent in making work  
that disrupts "normal" behaviours online, as opposed to not.

When you write "I see in this no escape from representation" - could  
you define exactly what you mean by "this" and "representation"? I  
just want to make sure I am understanding. I think you mean "this" in  
response to my question about artists being able to critique the  
netopticon from within the Internet, specifically social media  
formats. But then...you list communication and advertising after  
art... Can you unpack that more for me? Do you mean that art made  
within and perhaps in response to social media networks will only  
appear as "communication" and advertising? What do you mean by  
"communication"? Isn't all art essentially communicating on some  
level, even if only abstract shapes and colours?

> according to which active participation becomes exemplary  
> communication
> by way of the spectators' involvement; and that which would return the
> work to a self-identity for which language can do no more than seek
> adequate metaphors, here from the discourse of artworld cant, or the
> popular speech of commercial communication. The exhibition itself  
> might
> have the potential to take the discussion into the pragmatics of an
> artworld that educates young artists in the cant of its own  
> assumptions,
> wherein participation is determinedly commercial. Going by which
> pragmatics, work that is not able to be captured by and traded under  
> the
> gallery/exhibition system, does break or escape. But such is the  
> avidity
> of the system, it will go out its way to reproduce the conditions of
> escaped art and having successfully captured and captioned these,
> display and trade them in and as installations, with the support of
> corporations used to this sort of necrology, or traffic in the
> techno-corpse and organs.

It seems then from the above that you would agree with the writer John  
Baldacchino (see ref below) and other recent discussions (http://thehayward.southbankcentre.co.uk/2010/04/22/deschooling-society/ 
) in which the idea of "deschooling" of art is being revisited.  
Baldacchino specifically states that there is a paradox between art  
and education, and they just can't go together. Although I could  
debate you on participation being "determinedly commercial" in art  
schools, based on arguments which focus on the relationships  
themselves between artist-teachers and students as opposed to the  
larger institutional system which I agree is neoliberal in its design,  
I am more interested in knowing what you would now do to improve this  
situation you describe. Can we? How can we work within what has been  
created in an effort to transform?


Baldacchino, J. (2008). The praxis of art’s deschooled practice.  
International Journal of Art &Design Education, 27(3), 241-250.

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