Friday, 09 October 2009, 7:00pm
The Cobblestone Pub, Smithﬁeld, Dublin 7
DATA @ Darklight Festival presents a panel discussion of the use of technology in art: New media art has been viewed with suspicion by some critics. It is claimed that there’s often too much focus on the technology – the critically insubstantial black box of ‘tricks’. Its practitioners are considered to primarily inhabit ‘tech’ specific spaces such as ‘science galleries’ and research centres, their identities often blurred with that of the computer programmer or scientist.
Technology seems to gain acceptance in the artworld only at the point when it becomes obsolete. New technologies of the past – the slide projector, the 16mm projector, the Sony Portapak video camera and the crackle of the needle on the record are today accommodated within contemporary art. Within recent art practice there has been a discernible fetishisation of ‘old school’, analogue and obsolete technology. Is this the result of a cultural sublimation and normalisation of these technologies, now considered ‘safe’, familiar and tinged with a certain nostalgia? Yet, the truly ‘new’, diffused, networked and ‘self-aware’ technologies of our time are rejected as being too obscure, fetishistic and, one could suggest, ultimately threatening to some critics; for example artworks that use the max/msp programming environment hooked up to sensors are somehow thought of as less valid artworks. This panel discussion seeks to address what is going on with these perceptions of the use of new technology in art.
As digital technology moves to ubiquity, the critical reception of new media art seems to be changing. There is a growing acceptance within art discourse that digital culture is now simply culture. Digital has become the air that we breath and can no longer be considered unique. If this is so, do we need the term ‘new media art’ any more? Some elements of digital technology have now already moved into obsolescence. There is again a noticeable nostalgic drive at work within recent new media art practice; Nintendo games, 8 bit graphics and the web design aesthetic of the late nineties, as exemplified by artists such as Cory Arcangel and Paper Rad. These artists belong to the first generation who have grown up digital, raising questions about the changing nature of our relationship with the digital and the increasingly anachronistic term ‘new’ media. When analogue technology is no longer in living memory – how will we come to fetishise the digital? If the digital has become the ‘air we breath’ and therefore invisible, how do we construct a critical reading of it? Finally, is there any way out of the seemingly mindless cycle that drives each avant-guard, techno-utopian impulse to its eventual capitalist recuperation within the art market?
Dr Francis Halsall, lecturer in History and Theory of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.
Caroline Campbell, John Buckley and Conor McGarrigle
Tim Stott is Research Scholar at the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin, and visiting lecturer in art theory at National College of Art and Design, Dublin, where he teaches on the MA Art in the Contemporary World. He has a BA (Hons) in Drawing and Painting (2003) and an MSc in Contemporary Art Theory, both from Edinburgh College of Art (2004). He has published widely on various aspects of contemporary art.
Sarah Glennie is the Director of the Irish Film Institute. Sarah has fifteen years experience in the cultural realm, most recently as Director of the Model Arts and Niland Gallery in Sligo, and with previous extensive curatorial experience including her appointment as Commissioner of the Irish Pavillion at the Venice Biennale 2005, curated projects for P.S.1 MoMA, New York, and Cork 2005, and positions at the Henry Moore Foundation and IMMA.
Rachel O’Dwyer has a certificate in Sound Engineering from City and Guilds, a BA in Fine art from the IADT, and an M.Phil in Music and Media Technologies from Trinity College Dublin. She teaches on the MSC for Interactive Digital Media in the Computer Science Department of Trinity College. She is an associate researcher in the Graduate school of Creative Arts and Media (GradCam) where she leads a postgraduate seminar on audio cultures. She has published essays on audio technologies (Cambridge Scholars, Karnival) and curated an exhibition and panel discussion for ISEA09 on the role of sound in mobile environments.
Conor Mc Garrigle is a Dublin based artist and researcher. He holds a Bsc from UCD and a MA in Virtual Realities from NCAD and is currently a Reseach Scholar at the Graduate School of Creative Arts & Media (GRADCAM). He has been creating artworks for the web since 1999 and is well known for works such as Spook… (2000 -2002) and The Bono Probability Positioning System (2006) which have crossed into mainstream internet culture garnering huge audiences in the process. Recent participatory projects such as Joyce Walks (2007-2008), the Tulca Freedom Trail (2007) and the Manchester Freedom Trail (2008) concentrate on mapping and urban interventions, operating in a hybrid space between the web and the street. His Bloomsday 2008 project involved collaborators creating urban interventions in 39 cities around the world on a single day. He established online arts space Stunned.org in 1999 and has since then pioneered net.art in Ireland. Between 2002 and 2006 he curated a well regarded experimental series of Net Art Open exhibitions which explored the possibilities and limitations of online curatorial practice.
DATA is supported by The Arts Council.