[spectre] New Media Art Mythologies | cool media hot talk show |

Tania Goryucheva tangor2 at xs4all.nl
Fri May 25 01:03:48 CEST 2007

D.I.Y. talk show on art & media


TOPIC:  New Media Art Mythologies
SPEAKERS: Geert Lovink and Armin Medosch
QUESTIONS: ask-it-yourself now and during the show at http:// 

Tuesday June 5, 20.30 CET
video stream and interface for online participation: http:// 
location: De Balie, Amsterdam http://www.debalie.nl (bring your  
laptops and mobiles)


New Media Art Mythologies.
...to be questioned...

Recent discussions about (new) media art concerned a wide range of  
issues: starting from the validity of the term itself and ending with  
questioning the very premises of the modes of distinction through  
which the (new) media art field constitutes itself as a form of art,  
cultural practice, social context, institutional domain, and  
discourse. The feeling of a certain Rubicon, provoking self- 
introspective reflections, was expressed by many. The coming edition  
of Cool Media Hot Talk Show on the topic "New Media Art Mythologies"  
will welcome persistent critical voices of the media art scene -  
Geert Lovink and Armin Medosch. They will present their judgements  
and arguments regarding the current critical stage in the development  
of new media art. The debates will address socio-cultural position of  
new media art in a historical perspective, which both speakers are  
discussing extensively in their writings.
Preliminary suggested focal points are:

- The marginalised position of new media art within the broader  
cultural context.
- New media art vis-à-vis changing trends of cultural policies.
- Discursive troubles: in search for mediatory theories and media art  
- New media between aesthetics and politics.

It seems that the media art community has got itself into a trap by  
creating a rather contradictory mythology, which very much concerns  
the idea of being open to disciplinary and discursive confluxes and  
at the same time being immune to the biases of the criticised  
cultures. Geert Lovink pinpoints a range of critical issues which  
mark the contradictory relationships of (new) media art with the  
broader socio-cultural context, more specifically: art institutions,  
"hard science", media industries, and cultural policy mediators. He  
sees the contradictions between current cultural-political trends  
under an increasingly conservative agenda, and internal  
intentionalities of media art, which lead to decrease of funding and  
institutional support as a result.(1) Armin Medosch stipulates that  
the critical agenda of media art in relation to mainstream media  
politics is its distinctive value, and should be put forward as a  
driving force behind artistic practices. He promotes the idea of  
"Open Source Culture" as an integral socio-cultural movement in which  
artists can and do participate actively in order to develop and  
exercise alternative models of engagement into creative production.(2)

The question of media seems to be crucial for the identity of (new)  
media art, which in itself has a lot to do with the values and socio- 
historical conditions of art as such. How does the issue of media  
affect self-determination, or identity, of (new) media art  
communities in relation to the broader cultural context, and what  
exactly renders the relationships between (new) media art  
practitioners and this context? It is not just a matter of being  
conscious and critical about the politics of media in a broader  
sense. It is also very much about redefining the context and agenda  
of art as such through exploiting this distinctive media  
consciousness, which has always been an intention at least. Here a  
dilemma occurs: to comply with its own propositions based on a  
disengagement from promoting ideas and values of dominant cultures  
(whether it is the art market, media industries, popular culture,  
popular politics), the media art community in all its variety, groups  
and individuals, should find its own sustainable platform for  
existence. On which ground can it be established? Should it be done  
under a common, umbrella and agenda? Or are centrifugal survival  
strategies on the basis of tactical alliances, whether with science,  
media industries, other art domains, cultural and social movements,  
more productive and likely options?  Armin Medosch calls for  
dissociation of techno-determinist art, which rather fascinates  
itself with technology, from art which explores social dimension of  
technology through engaging with activist, Do-It-Yourself,  Open  
Source and other critical socio-cultural movements adopting "hacker  
ethics", while crossing and blurring the borders in between. Geert  
Lovink outlines four possible "models to deal with the current  
stagnation" together with their down-sides: a semi-autonomous  
existence on the basis of interdisciplinary collaborations;  
transcendence of (new) media art into the existing institutional art  
practices; withdrawal from the art domain altogether; merging with  
the creative industries.

Both Armin Medosch and Geert Lovink indicate the absence of a strong  
theoretical back-up for (new) media art practice as a crucial set  
back. Indeed fascination with interdisciplinarity, resulting in  
discursive mash-ups, makes it confusing: neo-marxist critique of  
industrial cultural production and mass media goes in hand with  
inventive post-structuralist ideas about producer-consumer relations,  
borrowings from scientific discourses, communication theories, etc,  
while high-brow pessimism and techno-snobism is accompanied by  
communitarian euphoria and advocacy of openness and all-inclusivity.  
Add to it the desperate attempts to provide audiences with  
explanatory thresholds through mapping of key concepts next to  
exhibits, and the absence of strong media art criticism, and the  
public gets totally confused. It is not that there is a need for  
discursive unity, of course. At the end (new) media art is an  
extremely young art, and the search for self-articulation is an  
important process. Although even at this point two essential things  
are already missing: a healthy, preferably external, mediatory art  
criticism, and strong theoretical methodologies which would help to  
demystify existing obscurities.

The important issue which lacks serious critical attention is the  
political dimension of media art practice. Implications of both  
political causes and effects of artistic messages are somewhat  
overshadowed by the general motto "be critical". A more politically  
aware approach in discussions of media art, beyond declarative  
generalities, is definitely needed. Geert Lovink pinpoints a range of  
political aspects of media art practice and its discourse to be  
addressed, such as post-colonial issues, the weakness of links with  
contemporary social movements, while Armin Medosch advocates  
structural creative resistance of Open Source Culture to the  
capitalist society of control on the basis of awareness about its  
modus operandi.

The historical conditions of media art are changing. So does the  
attitude to it. The question is what the media art community is going  
to do with it?

1. All references to Geert Lovink: "New Media Arts: In Search of the  
Cool Obscure. Explorations beyond the Official Discourse" to be  
published in "Zero Comments", Routledge New York, August 2007;
texts published online:

2. All references to Armin Medosch: the statement for http:// 
texts published online:


Geert Lovink (NL/AU) is a media theorist, critic, currently holds the  
position of senior researcher/associated professor at Amsterdam  
University. He is the organiser of conferences, festivals and  
(online) publications and the founder of numerous Internet projects,  
such as www.nettime.org and www.fibreculture.org. More info: http:// 
www.networkcultures.org/geert/  and  http://www.laudanum.net/geert

Armin Medosch (AT/UK) is a writer, artist and curator specialized in  
media theory, media art and network culture. His recent work includes  
the exhibition WAVES http://rixc.lv/waves/,  the new live event  
format PLENUM with Kingdom of Piracy http://kop.kein.org/, and the  
research project The Next Layer, an investigation into the culture of  
open sources. More info: http://theoriebild.ung.at, http:// 

EXTRA: music performance of Remus (humanworkshop records) http:// 

here & now: http://www.coolmediahottalk.net/

the winner will be selected through direct and open voting

Tickets: 5 euro
Reservations by telephone: +31.20. 55 35 100  (during opening hours  
of the ticket office)
Or via the Balie website: http:// www.debalie.nl/agenda

De Balie - Centre for Culture and Politics,
Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10

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