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<nettime> Critical Intelligence in Art and Digital Media
Konrad Becker on Wed, 28 Nov 2012 09:00:33 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Critical Intelligence in Art and Digital Media

Loosely picking up on the thread of "open letter to critics" and
"Collectors, artists and lawyers"... (and some of you may still
remember "Critical Strategies in Art and Media", a series of debates
in NY and a book published by Autonomedia...)

Christiane Paul recently asked me to contribute a piece for
"A Companion to Digital Art" a book that she prepares for
Wiley-Blackwell's series of Art History. However, involved in artistic
practice for quite a while I find it increasingly difficult to deal
with what is happening in this field and my aversion level has only
risen over time.

Below is my abstract and before writing this piece I would be curious
about reactions and interested in comments from the illustrious
nettimers circles...

Cheers, K


Critical Intelligence in Art and Digital Media

Can digital art practice do more than propagate technical progress
and provide affect stimulus in estheticized production-cycles? How
can cultural intelligence work to provide an informational context
for others and apply technologies of the imagination to tell another

The creative imperative has become a dominant force. With culture as
an economic engine in post-industrial societies, artistic practice
diffuses into business practice and the realm of the Creative
Industries. In the shift of the economic focus toward a dematerialized
value creation, innovation cycles of planned obsolescence and
estheticized experience design turn into standard market models.
In creative cities job profiles demand "creativity" for even the
most mundane tasks. Dreams, of everyone being an artist, turn into
nightmares of internalized gouvernmentality.

Just as Situationist tactics have been appropriated for advertisement,
Tactical Media concepts of the 1990's are now Public Relations and
viral marketing standards. Dissent is easily appropriated in the new
spirit of capitalism and todays critique is tomorrow's business.
Creative Industry appropriations of estheticized boutique activism
offer affective relief with a maximum of inconsequentiality. While
effective strategies of resistance and critical interventions need to
build on an understanding of the past, the change from disciplinarian
institutions to a society of control transformed the playing field.

In new control regimes the traditional disciplinarian modes of
preconfigured enforced categories and educational indoctrination
give way to the fluid mining of cognitive response and reaction
flows. Electronic networks and intelligent materials weave into the
fabric of social space and into infrastructures of urban places.
Embedded in ambient Big Data intelligence, proprietary protocols
and orchestrated devices exploit the individual. Density and speed
of digital networking veils paradoxical effects of increasing
fragmentation, segregation and asymmetric relations.

Not merely tickling cultural taste buds but providing a critical
instance of reflective intellectual work, artists as agents of
intelligence demystify the power of media over matter. New forms of
collective practices that intervene in processes seem more interesting
than past models of individual genius. A practice that offers a
critical technical intelligence and a critique of representation
by mapping the flows of ideas and power is necessarily based on
cooperation. Are there forms of cooperation outside a creative class
and a digital proletariat modeled on ecstatic internet bubbles?
What are models of critical artistic practice in a fluid field of
post-Fordism? What are potential roles of cultural agents in societies
saturated and structured by powerful communication technologies?

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