Hannah Klemm on Reflection on Gordian Conviviality
Talk | 11 April, 2013
“Are we an audience for computer art? The answer is not No; it’s Yes. What we need is a computer that isn’t labor saving but which increases the work for us to do, that puns as well as Joyce (this is McLuhan’s idea) revealing bridges (this is Brown’s idea) where we thought there weren’t any, turns us (my idea) not “on” but into artists.”
-John Cage, Diary: Audience, 1966

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries modern technology has been utilized by artists in every way imaginable, from the creation of images mirroring “traditional” artistic production, to works that gesture and overlap with corporate media and advertising. There is no denying that the use of technology has greatly affected not only the production of art but also the production of knowledge about art.

Employing themes raised in the exhibition “Gordian Conviviality” this talk will look at the historiography of technological art production alongside the varied terrain of contemporary artists working with technology as a means, site, and context for their practice.

While much has been written on the complicated relationship of art and technology--from promises of mass address, subversive revolution, and utopianism to new technologically mediated renditions of modernist formalism--very little of it has been able to helpfully situate the use of technology within an art historical discourse. This is in part due to the ever-changing nature of technology and, consequently, the conditions of the production and distribution of knowledge it yields. Discourses on “New Media,” “Digital Art,” or “Internet Art” more often than not illustrate these difficulties.

Instead of creating closed off definitions and systematic categorizations of projects utilizing technology, the aim of this talk is to open up a dialog on this very problem, gesturing towards sites of friction and fusion between the material aspects and the socio-political aspects of the use of technology in art.