5 Aug 2015

Ditgital art : Segregation of the unsegregated

"The screening 'Transmissions' looks at the TV studio as a contemporary art laboratory, where Polish artists not only carry out media analyses and pose questions about the mechanisms of shaping TV content, but also expand the reach of their activities by extracting them from their usual context." -Transmissions.Art on TV 

My Thesis supervisor, and long time "sen-sei" recently asked my a series of questions on Digital art, from a critical point of view. The questions were the start of hard but joyous readings to articulate what i previously had in my mind as given concepts since I started reading about digital art in 2009.
Here are some of the questions in short:

1- What are the boundaries between programming sciences and art? is there any in the first place?
2- What makes the technological inventions an art? 

Here's my answer to you Dr.:)

"Now here comes the question you asked before- here i'll ask it with in context to video and photography as a predecessor of digital art- “What makes the fine line between video and art?” Don't we now see the Video and the photography as an art, calling the products of them as "artworks" and showing them in Exhibitions, even though some might basically say that the tool was an invention and the practice was a Media practice, not "art" per se (for those who hold a definition for art), and this was said! Then over turned either by time, or by articles like that of Walter Benjamin in 1936[1].

So, why then would one want to separate between what can be called Digital art and Invention, even though the fusion here between art & science is way more prominent and embedded with is both the tool and the practice :)
I tend to agree with the Open concept argument of "defining art" Theorized by Weitz[2], which is in 7 points:
1- art can be expansive
2- therefore, art must be open to the permanent possibility of change, expansion and novelty.
3- If something is art, then it must be open to the permanent possibility of change, expansion, and novelty.
4- If something is open to the permanent possibility of change, expansion, and novelty, then it cannot be defined.
5- Suppose that art can be defined.
6- therefore, art is not open to the permanent possibility of change, expansion, and novelty.
7- therefore, art is not art.
An that is because, I believe that it very much matches the interdisciplinary nature of Digital art.

Moreover, If we looked at it in terms of how the "output" is presented, and that the product being shown in an art gallery or a museum (or any similar institution), I cannot agree on calling everything that falls outside this institutional space "not Art", and Indeed it isn't, basically, because that will mean that internet art, bio art etc. “not art”, and that is not true. We will then look at is from the sense of Experimentation and Application, something that might –seemingly- separate between an artwork and invention (i.e. that artwork will tend to have the sense of experimentation as a Utopian aim, more than the sense and rationale of an Invention which is more logical and application based.
Yet we’ll find that the sense of Experimentation since photography and the increase of that sense in the digital art (which needless to say was practiced not only by -so called- artists, but by so called scientists and engineers as well) makes the Digital artworks wider and bigger than to seclude, or to segregate its practices or practitioners into labels of: Art, design, inventions etc. and proves itself above theories of Institutions and definitions that try to impose certain criteria on what could be called art and what isn't.

If the Question of Photography already eliminated this debate then we have definitely came a far long way from trying to apply such perspectives on something like Digital art.
And, even the fact that we still call it "Digital Art" is more of a name that symbolizes the paradoxes that typically only "art" can endure, the toleration of Experimental sense in order to reach something which can later actually be practical and of use (like interaction, or wearables), or to just be experimental for that Utopian, platonic desire to be one; That if we overlooked the intention of "artists" and "art institution" to only address a certain time of audience, in the current more mainstream context of "Capitalist Bourgeois Art Institutions" where the artwork being "highly experimental" in a sense that the artist must already know that only a specific type of audience will understand it, but if it's to be shown in the streets, he/she knows very well that people will not enjoy it because they simply didn't get it".

[1] “The artwork at the age of mechanical reproduction”, Walter Benjamin, 1936.
[2] Later explained in “Theories of Art Today”, by Noel Carroll, 2000, University of Wisconsin Press. (Provided by Dr. Shady Al-Noshokaty)

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