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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Art and the attention economy

Mathew Slotover wrote:

>This is exactly why artists shouldn't blame the viewers for not being
>able to understand them. It's not good enough for Simon Biggs to say
>>Digital artists do have world views (at least the good ones) but
>>perhaps within the limitations of traditional art discourse they are
>All artists need a keen sense of how their work comes across to other
>people if, that is, they want attention. Many artists I know would 
>never admit to catering in any way to an audience;

I think you have misunderstood me. My intention was to suggest that
digital based art, when using the computer to its fullest and within its
paradigms, is by definition not only a distinct media form but also a
distinct art form, just as visual art, writing, theatre or music are. My
own practise reflects this very much, as I am able to move between many
aspects of dance, music, literature, theatre, television and visual art
(in terms of both production methodologies and the means of diffusion)
whilst remaining at all times functioning within the paradigms of my
medium, the computer. The very nature of that medium allows just this
sort of flexibility of praxis, and as a practise moves across artforms
like this then the individual discourses of each of those artforms,
often ghettoised as they are, are inadequate to critically deal with
such work.

Thus my intention was to point out that traditional discursive practises
and reference points in the artworld have simply not yet begun to
address the implications of computer based art, an artform that is not
constrained to a visual arts paradigm. By computer based art I do not
mean that all websites, CD-ROM's or computer images are computer art.
They might be works produced with the aid of the computer, and thus
could be refered to as computer-aided artworks, but what I am talking
about are works that use the computer itself, its processes, structure
and paradigms, as the means and content (at least partially) of the
work. Works such as those by David Rokeby, Joachim Sauter, Adrianne
Wortzel, Jeff Instone, Tessa Elliott and Jons Jones Morris and a number
of other artists fall into this category. Although I was not very
familiar with jodi.org (having only encountered them on this
list...although I knew of them prior to this) I gain the impression that
their work could also be seen this way, although I do not know what role
the computer has in the production of the work. However, their pieces do
seem to address a fundamental aspect of computing culture, which is that
of arbitrary discrete language mapping systems (parsing in short).

So, this is what I mean by something being unrecognisable to traditional
art discourse. Issues such as those addressed by the artists mentioned
above, and many others like them, are quite distinct to those addressed
by some of the artists that you mention (Wilson Twins, Hirst, Gordon,
etc) and which have come to dominate 90's discourse on, at least,
British art. Admittedly, some of these artists (Hirst in particular)
address social issues that are associated with the impact of new
technologies on our culture (genetics being an obvious case) but I hope
that you can see that what I am talking about is very different to this.

I do not have a problem with any of this, as fashions are fashions and
often we all get our little day in the sun due to their vagaries, but I
do want to make clear that I was not suggesting, as you seem to have
understood, that artists should ignore their audiences. Quite the
contrary, I believe very much in the artists obligation to their
audience, and the preemptive strategies that can be followed to attain
this contact. At the same time though, I do not see that artists are
obliged to follow, or interact with, any particular critical discourse
that might manifest itself. Whilst it is in the artist's creative and
professional interests to be aware of all the various discourses in the
end they remain free to pick and choose those they wish to indulge or
refer to (if any). Of course, this also holds true for the critics, who
are free to talk, or not, about any particular artist or practise.

Simon Biggs
London GB

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