Abstract The absence of an uninterrupted, lived tradition of critical inquiry into and artistic engagement with technology led to the spread of certain ideologies regarding media or digital media which can be characterised as determinist, instrumentalist and essentialist. Such discourses emerge not only in the myths of cypertopians, but in the practical policies of development projects. Offered as a magic bullet, new technologies have consistently failed the developing world. But the history of social and artistic experiments in new media has also thrown up a number of alternative ways both of conceptualising new media and organising around them. Despite their sixty years of history, ‘new’ media have proved to be adaptable in the hands of innovative and inventive users determined to bend the technology to local requirements. This issue addresses the historical not in an effort to effect a museumisation of new media art, but as a repository of challenges to the naturalised organisation of media, new and old, and the acceptance of them as forces of nature rather than human constructions.
Abstract One of the common qualities of both classical Islamic art and contemporary computer‐based art is that the work of art plays out in time, in the performance of algorithms and/or the attentive recognition of observers. This article will illustrate this performativity in terms of the relationship between point and line. From Islamic calligraphy to vector graphics – with a long pause in the linear abstraction of modern artists such as Paul Klee – the line is not a contour but a trajectory, a living, directional, potentially infinite movement. In both Islamic calligraphy and computer media, the freely moving line stumbled on a point: the proportioned Arabic writing of Abbasid vizier Ibn Muqla (885–939 CE), and the pixel‐based graphical user interface. When lines give way to points, does the nature of the infinite change?
Abstract Art that uses non‐traditional media and emerging technologies, specifically the electronic or digital, has the potential to create and nurture a distinctive public space for the articulation of alternative Maori world‐views. Although a growing number of publications focus on contemporary Maori art practice, no specific attention has yet been given to the swelling numbers of Maori practitioners operating in the field of digital media. This essay contextualises the author’s research in the wider framework of Maori digital art and seeks to explain a Maori creative practice.
Abstract The concept of the autonomous Soros Foundation and the subsequent development of the networked Soros Contemporary Art Centers had no recent historical precedent in Central and Eastern Europe. In the 1980s, George Soros, the American investor of Hungarian origin, proposed to establish an independent Foundation in Budapest based on Karl Popper’s notion of the open society. Over the following decade the centres introduced new communication and educational tools and supported a wide variety of cultural events including exhibitions, forums, exchanges and publications. The support provided to individuals and organisations proved to be invaluable and contributed to an added visibility of the region. While the Soros Centers received criticism as well as acclaim the long‐term results of cultural support by the Foundation are undeniable. This article provides a brief glimpse of the centres’ history.
Abstract This article offers an analysis of the cultural history of thinking and practising technology in Russia and in the Soviet Union throughout the twentieth century, locating artistic practices and theory in relation to education, the market, art systems, the state, politics and culture. It presents a lively account of dynamics shaping strands of thinking in media and new media and affecting personal lives. Saturated with insights and frustrations arising from the personal experience of an author and an organiser, the text moves from the twenty‐first century back to the Revolution to account for factors still currently at play.
Abstract The way in which subjectivity, identity processes, political situations and contemporary video images are related are some of issues developed in this article. Its starting point is the development of the International Festival of Electronic Art – Videobrasil, one of most important in Latin America – and its trajectory both in the global context of art and in the recent history of electronic images in Brazil. In the case of its history the Festival has become a meeting point for the dissemination of images and thinking in the Southern Axis.
Abstract This article presents a brief encounter around diverse institutions, events and artists who have made possible the emergence and visibility of video creation, digital art and an approach to new technologies in the context of the contemporary art of the Central American region. There is a special emphasis on the institutional work of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MADC) in Costa Rica, a space that has maintained, produced and endorsed these artistic manifestations in Central America, mainly through events such as Inquieta Imagen and Espacios a la Experimentación. The article also mentions other institutions that have supported these tendencies in the Central American countries, as well as some of the main artists and aesthetic, thematic and/or contextual emphases concerning the approaches towards these languages in the Central American region.
Abstract This article begins by recognising the cultural territory that defines Peru through an idiosyncrasy based on political powers and taking the permanence of its pre‐Columbian past as paradigm. This is a patrimonialist perspective, eroticised and distant from the process of modernity that instrumentalises and capitalises the past and its constant reinvention through cultural industries and public policies. A second paradigm is that of a ‘politically engaged art’ with its basis in an indigenist and syncretic approach, elaborated during the 1970s and 1980s in a context of political violence. The development of new media art in Peru has emerged in this context to offer an alternative dimension for understanding contemporary art production in the country. The authors distinguish two different scenarios in Peruvian media art: a high‐tech scenario with global aspirations and the professionalisation of work through technological media; and another scenario of productions related to critical local research on information technologies, mass media strategies and the culture of entertainment. Both scenarios are understood through the confluence of two events that have taken place since the end of the 1990s: The National and Iberoamerican Biennials of Lima and the Internacional Festival of Video/Arte/Electrónica (VAE). Finally, the article looks at the change in direction of the last instalments of the VAE Festival in the hands of a new organisation, Realidad Visual. A new generation of producers and promoters are developing the event in new directions. The main features of this new approach are described: interdisciplinarity, decentralisation of the event to other regions in Peru and the generation of new audiences and platforms for the diversification of Peruvian production of new media, in dialogue with an international context.
Abstract This article analyses through a historic perspective the emergence of video art on the Chinese cultural scene. By examining and comparing traditional art practices with video art, the author demonstrates how the latter was conceived in China as a communication channel and became widely adopted. The richness and diversity of video art and, to a great extent, the empowering capacity of the medium became decisive in empowering younger audiences to experiment with a medium that was initially contaminated by neither commercial nor political interests.
Abstract This text considers the function of the photographic image, both analogue and digital, in the multimedia interventions of the Beirut‐based artist Akram Zaatari. Instead of reading Zaatari’s work through the commonplace tropes provided by the rhetoric of documentary and archival appropriations, it focuses on generating more spatially and temporally dynamic epistemologies in order to better theorise the complexities of imagistic representation during times of war.
Abstract Based on personal experience and anecdotal accounts, this article critically reflects on a complex dialogue between the influx of the ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies), their creative and alternative uses and the underlying experiences that are constructing a landscape of appropriated content, form and function. Addressing successes and failures of artistic and institutional approaches to the cultural and technological collaborations in South Africa, questions are raised around local relevance, global misrepresentation and attempts at intervention in an emerging system.
Abstract Piracy is the allegory of media modernity – its immateriality and decisive disruption of sovereignty, authorship and property. Piracy, along with terrorism, is now a favoured term in the language of global fear, with its consequent attractive/destructive semantic overflow. For liberals and old‐style Marxists, piracy seems to allegorise an impure transgression, tainted by commerce and an inability to produce a discourse on itself. Pirate production of commodities and media objects fits neither a narrative of avant‐garde resistance nor normative critique, nor does piracy seem to fit received models of creativity or innovation. Piracy today produces a series of anxieties: from states, transnational capital, and media industries and even among some liberal proponents of the public domain. For the avant‐garde, postcolonial piracy is also a puzzle, a media archive that cannot be easily excavated for critique.
The journal is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.