05 December 2015

"How Not to Be Seen: A F**king Didactic Educational .MOV File"

The Eventbright page for the event, and the only web presence for it, so far,

I attended an open forum at RMIT called Contemporary Art and the Mediasphere. It was a thoroughly interesting day full of presentations and some discussion. I was disappointed that the event didn't have a website, hashtag for similar forum for ongoing discussions, a list of the speakers or their summaries. For me, an outsider to their world, I really felt like I needed this, as I madly Googled all the interesting things that were being mentioned and discussed. An audio recording of the day was made, I guess for archival purposes, but I don't know where it will go.

I went along because I am curious about art, and I was hoping to find new ideas, possible methods and connections for work in education. Similar to when I found ideas around situated art and situated learning back in 2011

Soda Jerk's Carousal is a performance art presentation about time, nostalgia and death

The prevailing topic being discussed this day seemed to be, what is "new media art" today? There was a dissatisfaction with the apparent need to fit the forms into the gallery or museum frame, and discussion revolved around all the compromises and losses in that transference. There was the provocation that "new media art" was not engaging with its "natural" space - the Internet, and the set up for this forum seemed to demonstrate that entirely. 

It seemed to me that the problems being discussed at this forum were primarily around categorisation, and the creation of conceptual frameworks that make audience and reception possible. There was an anxiety about the political, institutional and corporate establishments, removing what little audience had been developed, and limiting the prospects of it growing any further. This tone was set by an early presenter looking at the statements of the current Federal Minister for the Arts and his withdrawal of key sources of income from the Australia Council for the arts. 

George Brandis quoted in The Australian 2014.
Not hard to connect this statement up with fascist sentiment toward art historically.
Included with this concern was some discussion of the corporate ideology that is relentlessly sweeping the university sector - institutions that play a significant role in nurturing, harbouring and propelling contemporary art practice and audience in Australia. 

While I agree it is disappointing that the Minister and the Council are shunning expressions of contemporary art and that academic capitalism is eroding the grounds on which contemporary art as a discipline may currently stand, what is more disappointing to me is that contemporary artists struggle to categorise their work at all, and allow themselves to become reliant on an audience and infrastructure that is shaped by government and institutional dogmas. It is obvious to me that art, real art, exists nowhere near these venues.

What if we reconsider art as object. What if we recount the idea that art is not a thing, a profession, a category or location. What if we held it to be entirely a frame of mind? Aesthetic, theoretical, critical, philosophical, divergent. As a mental state, it potentially exists everywhere. It can be taken into any situation, projected onto anything? Yes it's a 100 year old idea, credited to Duchamp, but readymades are still a fixation on an object or material thing. 

With artistic thinking, anything and everything is potentially art. New media art, contemporary art, art objects or even categories of art become insignificant as art becomes metaphysical. 

If an object, situation or event is created or considered with artistic intent, over time it's moment of relevance or significance changes. It may simply become an historic object with perhaps little or no artistic resonance to the now. It may re-emerge with an entirely new artistic meaning, as does happen. What is consistently present is art thinking.

A definition I can't really fault, from Understanding Comics

It's akin, or even made up of other types of thinking, used at different levels in different situations and contexts. Design thinking, musical thinking, business thinking, strategic thinking, critical thinking and so on. Artistic thinking is valuable in many different settings and is across all other ways of thinking, as each other is across all others. Most obviously artistic thinking is prime in "the art world" - that being the institutions and gatherings that concentrate on artistic thinking above others. But it can be less obviously found in the corporate world, educational world, family life, politics, and other possible categories of being. 

Someone who has been afforded some time and support to develop an artistic appreciation of the world, can use this frame of mind in any number of settings. Their ability to think artistically may help generate ideas, innovation, solve problems, uncover problems, communicate, create value, think otherwise or to challenge preconceived notions, be different or make apparent things that are difficult to recognise. They may even find a way to exist as an artist in their own right.

This way of understanding and approaching art - as a way of thinking, seems resilient to me. Resilient to the problems and issues discussed in the forum, resilient to the fickle government funding, relentless corporatism, and dogmatic institutions. Once developed, artistic thinking survives unemployment, family life, retirement and any other situation in life that presently confounds the professional artist. It can now exist and be valued in all aspects of life and circumstances. Art becomes necessary to everything.

Below are some of the browser tabs I had open by the end of the day, with notes to try and stitch them together in some sort of semi coherence. 

Ian Haig organised the forum

Technologism - A physical exhibition, but with no online presence or experience beyond a mention! Strnagely, it has a catalogue - that can't be accessed other than by attending the gallery.

In Haunted Media Jeffrey Sconce examines American culture's persistent association of new electronic media—from the invention of the telegraph to the introduction of television and computers—with paranormal or spiritual phenomena. By offering a historical analysis of the relation between communication technologies, discourses of modernity, and metaphysical preoccupations, Sconce demonstrates how accounts of “electronic presence” have gradually changed over the decades from a fascination with the boundaries of space and time to a more generalized anxiety over the seeming sovereignty of technology.

Bruce Nauman (born December 6, 1941) is an American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. Nauman lives near Galisteo, New Mexico.

Sorry to see Tim Burns not getting a mention.
This veteran was alive and well and very much engaged when I bumped into him at a Sydney uni conference on national security of all things! He was dressed in camo and really sticking it to the cops in the room.

I met Ceri Hann, a conceptually wide and deeply thoughtful artist and teacher working at RMIT. He and I hit it off with all sorts of talk about "conspiracy", power, hegemony, the role of artist and art education in an unequal singularity, and where the new aesthetic might lead us. Ceri recommended an over whelming number of sources, HEXEN 2.0 drawings for a start. He pursues some of his ideas through the Public Assembly projects.

Tara Elizabeth Cook graced the stage with the ominous yet impressive presence that I imagine Ayn Rand may have had in the mid 20 century. Tara offered a manifesto of sorts, a rapidly read and extremely dense speech called The New New Media, and referencing the phrase New Aesthetic. I was very attracted to her proposition, forward thinking and adventuresome, destructive yet nurturing. Of course, it didn't take long for the older audience to assert some sort of dominance through their questioning - all respect to their wisdom and insight, but I do wish they would let the vigour last a little longer, maybe even just join in for some fun if nothing else. There is a new-ness in the Internet, and there's nothing wrong with borrowing on past ideas to try and find a way through bewilderment. Just because Marxism "didn't work" before (did it not? I thought it was still too early to say), doesn't make it a useless framework with which to see and understand the world today.

Korean group Heavy Industry

The Death of the Author

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