Closing the Gap Between Art and Life: Digital Art as Discursive Framework.
Throughout the twentieth century, successive avant-garde artistic movements touted ‘technology’ as a means to integrate the privileged realms of ‘high’ culture with the mechanisms of everyday life. Most of these projects ended with a similar set of outcomes – either works about technology were produced in traditional media or works made in new medias were uncomfortably shoehorned into existing frameworks of artistic validation, presentation and reception. On many levels, contemporary artworks using digital technologies function in similar ways. However, it could be argued that the digital revolution has presented new means of accessing and using technologies which have, in turn, lead to the production of artworks that function in entirely new ways. Take for example the work ‘To the People of New York, 2001’ by Wolfgang Staehle, in which an Internet feed to a gallery space inadvertently captured the unfolding images of 9/11. This ‘inadvertent journalism’ lead to an extended correspondence developing through a pre-existing network of critical debate which including websites such as ‘Thing’ and traditional journals such as ‘Artforum’. As a result of this, a digital artwork facilitated the discussion of pressing issues which were debated through the framework of ‘art’. At the same time, issues of art’s contemporary relevance and worth were also addressed whilst the hackneyed question of ‘is it art’ lost all relevance - trivialised as it was by the enormity of events. In the light of this, I will argue that digital media are bringing together the previously distinct spheres of ‘art’ and ‘life’ through a discursive network of participatory digital culture.
Keywords: Art, Technology, Culture
Mr. John Byrne
Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies, Department of Contextual Studies, Liverpool School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University