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Re: <nettime> Claire Bishop’s Game: Sub
Armin Medosch on Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:11:44 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Claire Bishop’s Game: Sub


it is indeed perplexing that Bishop manages to write a pretty good book
about participation whilst leaving out any mentioning of media art or
digital art or whatever you call it. I do not concur however, that this
is the main problem. It is equally problematic, as David does, to
perpetuate this thinking in camps and then once more sullenly remark how
unfair it is that the art world keeps leaving "us" out. I think a bit
more self-criticism of the digital art scene is overdue.

Maybe there are other reasons rather than just ignorance why those
curators tend to think that this is a place where they don't even have
to look? A lot of digital art is simply, to paraphrase Herbert Marcuse's
term "affirmative digital culture" (tentative title of a piece I hope to
write in the not too far future). One needs to have pretty good overview
and knowledge of the digital art scene to know that there is also a
critical leftwing in this field. Those leftwingers are, within the
digital art scene, outsiders, don't have much of a voice or
institutions. So, established curators like Bishop can be forgiven for
not looking enough in that direction. Rather than raising accusations it
would be our task - when I say our, I mean those with an interest in
non-affirmative digital arts -- to educate those elements in the art
scene who might be open to such suggestions.

My experience also is that something has changed in recent years. There
are now younger artists, curators and scholars in the contemporary art
world who have no fear of engaging with computers and the net. It is now
quite naturally part of their environment, and they don't perform such
exclusions as insinutaed by thsoe who thimk in camps. In the
institutional art system, now the big retrospectives of postwar
modernistic avant-gardes are rolling in. Zero, Black Mountain College,
E.A.T, these are all precursors of media art. It remains to be seen how
the mainstream art world now deals with those huge topics but it is
interesting that these types of movements / places / initiatives are
becoming part of the canon. The media art world, to quote Darko Fritz,
still suffers "amnesia international."

There exists the conference series Media Art Histories, but it suffers
from chronic depoliticization of subjects and it perpetuates this
thinking in camps which leaves media art incapable of addressing its own
shortcomings. For instance, media art has, for a very long time, defined
participation in merely technical terms, as "interactive art". It still
kept doing so, holding up interactive art as a symbol of a shining
future, when actually everywhere around participaton had become a new
imperative, from top down - the latter something that Bishop points out
in Artificial Hells. This would be some really interesting sub-thread to
explore, how it came that participation changed from a demand of the
grassroots left to something imposed from the top by third-way social
democrats. Aspects of such work have been carried out, in relation to
urban development, by an initiative called The London Particular who had
links with Mute magazine. Having said that, Josephine Berry's review of
Bishop's book. the Ghosts of Participation, is something I can only
warmly recommend 

The best bit is, when Josephine accuses Bishop of lacking theoretical
spine. Maybe, Jospehine, you might want to elaborate?
best regards

Prof.Armin Medosch, PhD, MA
Professor of Theory and History of Art and Media, 
Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade
Research Journal

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