ben . craggs on Mon, 18 May 2009 10:50:50 +0200 (CEST)

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

> what i am always wondering about is why the media arts field is so
> concerned with its media. is dealing with "new media" or "old media"
> an excuse for making good or bad art? IMO defining art by its media
> is on the same level as defining art by its subject. not getting
> over these definitions will result in a ghetto-situation sooner or
> later. the problem -IMHO- is not that media art is not recognized
> by the fine art world but that the fine art world is dealing with
> other subjects. when was the last big exhibition dealing solely
> with "painting" or "sculpture" you've seen? ars electronica and the
> others are doing that every year: "new media art" with changing
> subtitles.


An interesting addition to this would be the emergence of 'New, new
media arts'. I am thinking here, of practices in the field currently
defining itself as bioart. Here the medium that is being manipulated
is a form of living or sem-living matter, or tissue. Bioartist,
Eduardo Kac and curator Jens Hauser have sought to specifically
identify this new art practice, expressly on the basis of the medium
itself. Bioarts, they argue, are most definitely are not those works
that take bios or a form of life, as a subject, but manipulate it as a
medium. That said, the manipulation of living tissue can be executed
through a number of divergent practices, specific technologies, and it
is these that seem to be defined by some as the media, not the living
tissue they manipulate. I guess a somewhat simplistic comparison
would be between with identification of various 'digital media' in
abstraction from the advances in computer technology on which they are

My current work in the field of bioart is increasingly
pushing me towards a frustration at the distinction between
art/science/media/technology/old/new that recurs in the majority of
literature, and if I am not wrong seems to predicate this current
discussion. In the light of these new practices I have been working
towards re-imagining what art and media are in themselves, as
technologies and processes not as distinct practices - the specific
media or declared purpose seem less relevant from this perspective. So
I wonder whether 'meaning is present in all works, to varying degrees,
regardless of how they might be appropriated by culture' could be
extended beyond a simple valorisation of art.

It also seems that those new media theorists, such as Manovich and
Baudrillard are somewhat restricted in their approach in that new
media is perceived in a somewhat teleological sense, newness for
the sake of newness, with new theories to match new media - without
asking what is actually recurring in new media. IMO it seems that
most new media, are really just old media anyway, particularly so in
bioart. Is the creative growth of tissue not what we do continually
as part of our natural bodily processes? Would it be facetious
then to ask whether all media be considered from this originary
perspective, negating the discussions about relative newness or
cultural categorization (ie i's art, it's science, it's technology,
it's media).


-- ---------
  Ben Craggs
  07868 273 360
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