Closing the Gap Between Art and Life: Digital Art as Discursive Framework.

Mr. John Byrne
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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
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Closing the Gap Between Art and Life

Mr. John Byrne

Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies, Department of Contextual Studies, Liverpool School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University

John Byrne is a Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies at Liverpool John Mores University’s School of Art and Design. He has published widely on Contemporary Art, Aesthetics and Cultural Politics including ‘Cybersublime: Representing the Unpresentable in Digital Art and Politics, which was published in ‘The Third Text Reader on Art, Culture and Theory’ in 1992. Also in 1992, Byrne helped to produce four shot films for the Liverpool International Biennial of Contemporary Art. These films brought together community groups to make work with artists. The most successful of these was a collaboration between Jamie Reid (famous for his ‘Sex Pistols graphics) and members of the local Palestinian community. Byrne is also a research associate to Liverpool’s ‘Static’ gallery of contemporary art and is currently writing a book on the relationships between art, aesthetics and popular culture.

Ref: T06P0067