[-empyre-] Is the Internet like a Medium of Art?

Daniel Herwitz herwitz at umich.edu
Sat Apr 5 06:46:43 EST 2014

Thanks for this Tim. At the Michaelis School of Art in Cape Town there is a
project of making art based in archives of the Khoi and San peoples,
indigenous hunter-gather peoples of the southern African environment who
have largely disappeared, that is, been decimated by the settler's gun and
the Xhosa's arrows. In this archive, called the Bleek-Lloyd archive,
assembled by a white English woman Lucy Lloyd in consort with the German
linguist Willhelm Bleek, are troves of lost languages, entire translations
of spoken tongues now otherwise forgotten, photographs of Khoi and San
peoples from the nineteenth century, documents of their travels and
travails, a legacy of those no longer on the face of the earth. Certain
communities in the Cape Province carry the descendents of these peoples,
but mixed with other populations and no longer wanderers through the
desert. Art is made, and sometimes uploaded, which is at once
archival--formulated from the archives and in the spirit of history--and
modernist in expression--installation, sculpture, projection, etc... The
work is original, some of the artists, in particular Pippa Skotnes (now at
the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin) are really original, all act in homage
to this lost world, and in the name of historical memory and the citing of
these fragile people in the name of the new democracy. When it comes to the
design of websites, their work wants to be broadcast to international art
communities, and also to local art communities with significant knowledge
of South African history, modern and traditional art. In some utopian frame
of mind the desire can also be to address local communities where the
descendents of these people live. Some have access to the internet. Whether
they are interested, or aware of these endeavors is another matter. What it
means to create digital art, and archives with the ability to embrace this
diversity of potential audiences is a matter of intense debate there.
Perhaps it is impossible. Perhaps multiple kinds of digital approaches are
required. Perhaps segmentation of audience in terms of knowledge,
background, interest, position and the like is what is needed (without
being paternalist or condescending). It is unclear. But the stakes are
those of a diversity of audiences, which much occupies the global south I
think. I don't know if I've addressed your concern or not.

On Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 3:24 PM, Timothy Conway Murray <tcm1 at cornell.edu>wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> On 4/4/14 1:45 PM, "Daniel Herwitz" <herwitz at umich.edu> wrote:
> >in the twenty years since
> >then the global south has begun to establish a profoundly different
> >relation to the world at large, courtesy of the internet and digital
> >technologies. ...
> >But there are ways in which the internet is like a medium: it
> >derealizes whatever is uploaded from all traces of physicality.
> Thanks for much for initiating this month's discussion of Critical Making
> in International Networks, Daniel.
> I'm wondering if you would mind elaborating on the particular kinds of
> South African 'making' to which you refer.  Might local or regional
> markers of making continue to provide a context or even regional
> style/flavor to particular new media interventions that would, precisely,
> foreground their "profoundly different relations to the world at large"?
> And might not such markers or frameworks or even URLs re-realize the
> traces of physicality, which you are concerned evaporate with the internet?
> Thanks for engaging -empyre- with such provocative opening thoughts.
> Best,
> Tim
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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Daniel Herwitz
Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor
Department of Comparative Literature
University of Michigan
2012 Tisch Hall
435 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003
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