Symposium: Media and its messages
From the film Picnic in Space (1967), Marshall McLuhan, Direct by: Bruce Bacon
Stockholm 3-4 December 2011
Co-organised with Södertörn University
Speakers: Richard Cavell, Beatriz Colomina, Douglas Coupland, Thierry de Duve, Gabriele Guercio, Branden W. Joseph, Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer
Schedule 3-4 December
What is a medium? Have we finally moved beyond the confines of the inherited artistic media into a ”post-medium condition,” a development further enhanced by digital technologies? Or are artistic mediums rather to be understood as resulting from artistic operations, in the sense that they would have a temporary and strategic mode of existence?
In many respects, these questions originate in the 19th century debates that pitted painting against photography. This was the first fundamental crisis of the system of the fine arts, and was to be followed by innumerable others throughout the unfolding of modernism. But they also resonate with problems of media emanating from another discursive horizon, i.e. the theory and practices of “media” in contemporary information technology as it has evolved from the 1960s onwards. While on the some level this development has occurred independently of the practices of the visual arts, it has also intersected with them in many cases.
The symposium Media and its messages brings together these two questions. The first day takes its cues from three major exhibitions organized by the Moderna Museet in 2011—the first devoted the history of photography, the second to the painting of Turnet, Monet, and Twombly, and the third to the legacy of Marcel Duchamp—and is dedicated to the idea of medium in art. The second day takes its point of departure in the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, and also celebrates his 100th anniversary. His theory of the media, while it is just as contested as it is celebrated, forms the inevitable backdrop for most current attempts to theorize the media in an generalized sense that includes all forms of human interaction and communication. Re-reading his work in the light of current developments may shed light not only on our recent past, and in this sense contribute to an archeology of the present media situation, but also create the possibility for new exchanges between the arts and the digital media landscape.
Contact: John Peter Nilsson, curator