[NetBehaviour] Critical Strategies in Art and Media
info at furtherfield.org
Wed Aug 26 10:34:33 CEST 2009
Critical Strategies in Art and Media:
Beyond the obsolete models of artist or author as genius and their fetish
objects, what collective and collaborative practices are inventing new
terrains and flows?
As information and communication technologies saturate our world, how is art
giving way to new forms of cultural symbolic manipulation?
Can we identify new models to replace the auteur and the artwork? If so,
where do they come from and what might that say about the future of critical
What new kinds of "virtual" spaces are opening up for cultural practice in
electronic media? As "old media" begin to collapse under the pressures of
the virtual, what new media can we find?
How are didactic illustration and channeled dissidence giving way to new
forms of surprise and intensity?
What strategies elude the Creative Industries? seemingly infinite appetite
for things radical? Are there any strategies that can elude being reduced to
styles in the service of sales, or are critical practices doomed to play cat
and mouse with the forces of consumerism?
Roundtable conference of digital theorists and practitioners on the future
of cultural intelligence and freedoms
Ted Byfield, Steve Kurtz, Amanda McDonald Crowley, Claire
Pentecost, Peter Lamborn Wilson
Konrad Becker/World-Information Institute, Jim Fleming /Autonomedia
Profound changes related to global digital information and communication
systems challenge the cultural heritage of the future and require
independent cultural intelligence analysis. The World-Information Institute
debates the future of art and culture in a fast-changing world and in a
shifting economic and ecological environment.
Guy Debord, a key European twentieth-century thinker, once declared, "All
aware people of our time agree that art can no longer be justified as a
superior activity, or even as an activity of compensation to which one could
honorably devote oneself." That was more than fifty years ago, and since
then things have become considerably worse. Does art have any relevance
beyond the role of the corporate style consultant or a decoration of digital
product worlds? Is there any need for art beyond its function as status
d?cor, tax-minimizing investment, or a special market sector?
Today the sacred aura and mythical uniqueness of the object, closely
connected with the cult of beauty emerging with the bourgeois world, is
still the dominant art form. The deeply ingrained economic logic that
mystifies cultural creation and emphasizes unique individuality has never
been overcome. Amidst all the pretensions of authenticity, the focus on
meaningless "innovations" and "individual" personalities consistently
produces market failures. Meanwhile the cultural peacekeeping industry of
the military-entertainment complex makes inroads into the imagination and
increasingly influences behavior at every level. At the same time the
agonizingly dull myth of the Creative Cultural Industries, that they bring
the fine arts in from the cold and into the productive forces of the
economy, raises questions about dissent and critique. The bourgeois bohemian
Creative Class confuses talent with a fetish for lifestyle technology and
mistakes ignorance for tolerance. It isn?t just the finance world that?s
ensnared in Ponzi schemes: exploited by finance to create meaning for their
belief system, arts and culture develop bad practices and mechanisms of
self-reinforcing silliness all by themselves.
By now gestures of rebellion have become the stuff of everyday marketing. In
the supermarket of farcical Web 2.0 socialism, a naive off-the-shelf
critique comes at a discount. Greenwashing and community kitsch are the
order of the day.
An amalgam of postmodern perplexity and bourgeois disorientation in
neoliberal market economies achieves and sustains an abysmal lack of vision.
With the decline of postmodern theory and a growing weakness of neoliberal
ideological hegemony, a serious reassessment of "critical cultural practice"
as such is necessary.
Roundtable Conference: "Critical Strategies in Art and Media"
Austrian Cultural Forum (ACF)
11 East 52nd St
New York, NY 10022
September 10, 2009
Admission is free!
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