Richard Cavell: Re-Mediating the Medium
What can media theory tell us about the “post-medium” condition? One answer to the question “What has become of the traditional artistic media?” is that they have been remediated by forms such as photography, performance art, installation. Remediation—the process whereby a previous medium becomes the content of a new medium—was the central principle of McLuhan’s foundational media theory, and my paper addresses McLuhan’s notion that electronic mediation would result in an increasing inter-mediation of artistic forms both generically and hierarchically. Focusing on McLuhan’s 1968 book Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting, my paper demonstrates how the book contests Lessing’s 1766 proposal in Laocoön of the distinction between temporal artistic forms (poetry, or narrative art in general) and spatial forms (sculpture, or the visual arts generally). Interest in Lessing was revived in the 1960s by Greenberg’s insistence on the primacy and purity of painting as a medium, an insistence that was in direct response to McLuhan’s celebration of the inter-medial. My paper traces this debate through Rosalind Krauss’s contemporary iteration of medium specificity to the present moment, when digital technologies pose the question of intermediation anew. At the present moment, however, it is not simply that the digital has supervened traditional artistic boundaries, but that art shares a platform with fashion and society. As McLuhan’s theories propose, art has become environmental.
Beatriz Colomina: Manifesto Architecture: From ZANG TUMB TUMB to Twitter.
The history of the avant-garde (in art, architecture, literature) can’t be separated from the history of its engagement with the media. It is not just the avant-garde used media to publicize their work. The work didn’t exist before its publication. This paper focuses on the last 100 years of architectural manifestoes as they migrate from printed media to new media and beyond.
Douglas Coupland: New Brains for the Twenty-First Century
I'll be discussing three things: 1/ The process of writing the biography and how it altered my perceptions of McLuhan, culture, ideas, the body, personality and interiority: what goes on inside the head. 2/ How those shifts made me rethink what I think about theory, most pressingly postmodernity versus media theory. 3/ My own work as a writer and artist and how I see the above two topics mapping onto what I do, and onto what others do.
Thierry de Duve: Duchamp the Messenger of Art Unlimited
It started in the sixties: as Duchamp’s rising star eclipsed Picasso’s and more and more people began to speak of a “post-Duchamp art world”, awareness grew that anything could be art. From this day on, the dissolution of the arts (in the plural) into art (in the singular), and the possible disappearance of medium-specificity into what Rosalind Krauss has dubbed the “post-medium condition”, have been on the agenda. But since when was it the case that that anything could be art? What did it mean in the sixties? And what does it mean, now? What was at stake then? And now? I shall argue that the time has come for a reinterpretation that sees Duchamp not as the author but as the messenger of a sea change in the institution we call “art”.
Gabriele Guercio: Picasso as a Post-Media Artist?
I propose to explore whether Picasso’s practice may be connected with the idea of “Generic Creativity,” by which expression I mean the belief that the creative is a faculty common to all human beings and thus it does not need a specialized field or medium to excert itself. Throughout the last century, the widespreading of such a belief in Western artistic culture gave rise to a true paradigm that took over the two previously dominant paradigms of the Beaux-Arts, established in eighteenth-century France, and of Art Tout Court, arising in the context of German Idealism at the turn of the nineteenth-century.
In particular my talk addresses the question of whether Picasso may be regarded a “post-media” artist. A 1913 photo of his Paris studio shows an assemblage in which artistic and non-artistic elements are chaotically interconnected. The notion that anything may pass as work of art is already conveyed by this key image. Focussing on the photo my talk moves first backward, exploring the nineteenth-century bent toward the Generic as arising in authors such as Courbet, Nietzsche, Riegl, and Croce, and then forward, discussing how and why the twentieth-century affirmation of Generic Creativity is quite an ambivalent phenomenon.
Rightly in view of the ambivalence of his own career, Picasso offers a valuable opportunity to explore the contradictions that affect Generic Creativity and the so called “post-medium condition.” Instead of fulfilling its promise of egalitarism and freedom, the advocacy of the Generic risks reflecting the new demands of labor in neoliberist societies. However, at least in some cases, Picasso’s works seem to suggest a way out of such impasse.
Branden W. Joseph: Muzak and Biomusic
This talk will discuss the emergence and development of “biomusic” in the late-1960s and 1970s within the context of more well-known practices, such as Muzak and the sound installations of Max Neuhaus. At stake was an epistemological shift in the notion of advanced musical practice—from “experimental music” to what composer Manford L. Eaton termed “experiential music”—as it was understood to address and impact the intellect and physiology of the listener. The larger conception of music as a distinct art form was here understood to cede before an implicitly audiovisual feedback loop that engaged with the “real” of the body as against the “imaginary” of (audiovisual) representation and the “symbolic” domain of the musical score. Ultimately, the notion of biomusic proposed a new conception of the listening subject in line with cybernetic and proto-cybernetic models developing within the post-World War II era.
Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer: Photography in the age of its digital reproduction
The question of whether photography is an art form or not — much debated in aesthetics in the late 19th century — lost much of its relevance in the arts in the 20th century when certain photographs began to enter fine art museums. Today the most lively debates concerning photography as a work of art take place among lawyers and not artists or critics. In many countries today photography is protected by copyright laws and some parties wish to see this protection enforced.
What are the consequences for the digitization and making the collections of libraries, archives and museums available? And giving access to the public, to historians, and artists of today working with photography, film and other sources in an archival art practice? I will address these questions in relation to my experience in the stewardship of the image collections of The Danish Royal Library. How did the collections originate? What was collected, by whom and for whom? What are the possibilities, the problems and the challenges related to the photographic collection in the digital era?