Alise on Thu, 19 Feb 1998 00:56:17 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> "communication art"

Here i offer "an angry point of view" - however i wrote this piece, i am
not quite sure about my deeper opinion. But i would like to hear any
comments about this! 

Communication art - the end of humanism or the beginning of
anti-humanism?  Or not yet? 

"Technology is so pure that it's only function is to exist." /Critical
Art Ensemble/

One can dare to declare that the advanced possibilities of today's
technology have destroyed some kind of essential border, a barrier which
previously seemingly separated "art" (I suppose everybody understands
something different with this word because unfinished discussions about
question "what is art" have proven to be unsuccessful - no all-round,
all-wise definition of the art is found) from other forms of human

Starting even from the very beginning of XX century this border has been
gradually destroyed with countless new "art tendencies" and names worth
mentioning - Malevich's "Black square", Marcel Duchamp and his
"Readymades" and Rrose Selavy, Andy Warhol and his Campbell's soup,
Jackson Pollock and his big brushes, Lichtenstein's comics esthetics,
opart, the golden age of installation and environment art, then videoart
and, at last, interactive and in the age of computers. 
At first the concepts about the esthetical conditions of art were
exterminated (the artwork does not have to be something original -
colored portraits of Marilyn Monroe or Yoko Ono's actions with urine
jars can be called "art", and so forth, not talking about the artists'
fascination with everything ugly, creepy, dirty, perverted,
"prohibited", cheap and shocking, together with the sex revolution of
60ies the previously so cherished border between the private and the
public was swept away). 
Then also concept of the ethic essence of the art disappeared - the
meaning of the artwork is the cult of violence, wish to shock with
something unpleasant (I can relate to Dali/Bunuel film "Un Chien
Andalou" in the era of surrealism as one of the first examples), showing
the mean, the negative, the repugnant with only one goal - to fill a
viewer with disgust, differently from, for example, Renaissance when the
visions of hell and nightmare had ethical role. 

Also a border between the pop-culture and concept of the art as a
"higher sphere" disappears, pop-music and mass fashion also is
considered as a form of art, which consists of everything colorful,
tasteless, simplicity and cheapness offered by the street - for example,
some smart guys notice the dirty and always hopelessly stoned punks and
Sex Pistols in the music industry are born, and Vivienne Westwood
repeats the same trick on the catwalk, etc. 

In the information age it seems rather hard to talk about the presence
of "art" at all. Of course, there are people calling themselves artists,
internationally known term exists, massive discussions about it
take place. All previously used media are dead for the art - does that
mean the end of humanism? Human-friendly forms, sizes, materials and
media are replaced by only one thing - the computer which "can do
anything". Digitally process an image, making it into rows of symbols
recognizable by other computers. Isn't it the same as to kill a soul and
to exhibit made-up, well-dressed but dead body? 

Of course, technology only proves the power of human brain, talent,
possibilities and undoubted superiority comparing to all other live
beings. But at the same time it subordinates us, makes us adapt
ourselves to it. 

Technology provides (relatively) equal chances to publish every kind of
"art" in WWW. "No stars", says the technology age. DJ's are as anonymous
as their audience. Street fashion is face-less, cheap and bitchy - let's
take a look at all this sportswear on the streets which is a nasty kick
in the ass of "a good taste" and sense of style. The "cult movies" of
our time - Tarantino, Arachi, Lynch and others - only repeat the
classics, laughing about the viewer. In the virtual world there are no
more differences of sex, race, nationality, age and others. Everybody
can become anybody. in the most cases plays with these
possibilities and uses every new technological trick. Radio and TV via
the net, video, music, pictures, animation, porn and shopping, cat-rooms
and mailing-lists. 

Sometimes it feels like the human being as a measure of values is lost
in this process. The goal is communication process - anonymous, global,
face-less, delusive and seemingly safe. The cyberspace becomes a great
place to be in the age when one of the most popular sentences is "your
body is your enemy", our bodies are threatened by drugs and lethal

The possibilities to communicate now are unique - communication is the
only goal, the cult with its decadent temple called WWW. At the same
time - it has never been so easy to lose yourself, there are no values
out in the information highway, no speed limits, age limits, no taste,
no style and no rules. 

"Disneyworld is the perfect microcosm of the pancapitalist vision for
the world. At Disneyworld, participants are locked into a state of
permanent consumption, market image envelopment, passive participation,
and perfect order. (Disneyworld is the architectural model on which the
unidirectional home  entertainment system is based. Through the
seduction of entertainment value, domestic space will also be fully
colonized)./Critical Art Ensemble/ 

Alise Tifentale 
journalist /art magazine FF, Latvia/

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