Rama Hoetzlein on Mon, 18 May 2009 10:47:14 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Political Work in the Aftermath of the New Media Arts Crisis

Brian, thanks for your reply. In general, i'm glad to see that
we're mostly in agreement. Based on my observations of nettime-l,
disagreement is often the norm, so I'm glad to see that there is
some consensus between us that the new media theorists are currently
the only option we've been given, and that we really need some
alternatives.. Now, for some responses.

> Your idea that there is an art-philosophical perspective that could 
> exclude or bypass social determinism seems, begging your pardon, 
> somewhat naive. 

I'm not suggesting that art-philosophy can bypass social determinism.
I have no illusions about the difficulty the artist faces in creating
any real social change, since my view of art does not negate any of
the real research done by the media theorists. My own view is that
the idea of art-for-social-change is long outdated. You suggest
that hackers are the source of real inspiration in new media theory
because they alone are able to transform the media itself, and thus
undermine the system toward some possible escape path. Yet, there
is no reason to believe that even if the media itself changes, that
society will too. In my view, the only way we could overcome the
current technoscientific system would be due to a deep, fundamental
transformation in all individuals - and while I believe art is
capable of doing this one person at a time, I don't think any one
artwork, hacker or otherwise, is capable of really altering the
technoscientific system we find ourselves in on a global level. Thus,
all social change we talk about now is still part of that system. This
is the media theorist perspective, of course - which i agree with -
but as an artist, its incomplete.

The reason I advocate art-philosophy is for the sake of the
individual, and the field of art itself. While i just said the artist
is powerless to transform culture, perhaps to a degree greater than
most would like, the artist is _not_ powerless to transform him or
herself, and others which that person touches through the art..
Despite whatever the technoscientific system may do, to create art is
an intentional act by an individual, and thus has an immutable meaning
just by virtue of being "created". We get to choose what is created
(this does not make it good art necessarily).

That meaning is present in all work "to varying degrees". By this, i
mean that we each have a unique relationship to our artwork. For some,
it is a mirror of personal emotions and fantasies (and probably my
own work most of the time), while others may be able to communicate
more.. So, I'm not evaluating art. Some is good, some is not. However,
having an art-philosophical does not automatically reduce our works to
emotional fantasies. In fact, it is more likely to result in genuinely
empathetic works since it creates a solid foundation for art based on
a philosophy in which art is encouraged to be empathetic, rather than
responsive to a system.

I'm simply stating -- which I think we perhaps both agree with here --
that so far we have not been given any other alternative view of new
media art other than that proposed by the new media theorists. The way
out of this problem is, I believe, through a philosophy of art whereby
the artist has full awareness of the problems of society (hopefully),
yet continues to create works of art despite this. It is possible to
have no illusions about the inability of art to bring about explicit
social change, but understand that it can bring implicit change
through individual communication.


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