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Book Review of Provocative Alloys: A Post-Media Anthology

Book Review of Provocative Alloys: A Post-Media Anthology

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Published by Joseph Nechvatal
Book Review of Provocative Alloys: A Post-Media Anthology
Book Review of Provocative Alloys: A Post-Media Anthology

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Published by: Joseph Nechvatal on Feb 22, 2014
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 Provocative Alloys: A Post-Media Anthology
, Post-Media Lab Books, London, 2013, e- book or soft cover, 160 pages, edited by Clemens Apprich, Josephine Berry Slater,Anthony Iles & Oliver Lerone Schultz, ISBN 978-1906496944http://www.metamute.org/sites/www.metamute.org/files/u1/a-post-media-anthology-mute-books-9781906496944-web-fullbook.pdf 
Joseph Nechvatal
 - published at Hyperallergic.com at 
http://hyperallergic.com/109631/arts-post-media-malaise/ 
London-based Mute magazine has been a robust critical presence in the domain of cyber-connected art and theory for twenty years now, but has remained somewhat unknown tothe global art world at large. This may be changing with the launch of their Post-MediaLab book series; a collaboration with the Post-Media Lab at Lüneburg University (set up
 
2
in 2011 to explore how post-broadcast media can be used to intensify collectiveassemblages, an idea originally formulated by Félix Guattari). The gratis (or purchased)e-book (or procured paper back) that grabbed my interest first was
 Provocative Alloys: A Post-Media Anthology,
their second release. Featured essays are by Adilkno, ClemensApprich, Alejo Duque, Gary Genosko, Michael Goddard, Félix Guattari, Brian Holmes,Felipe Fonseca, Howard Slater, Cadence Kinsey, Oliver Lerone Schultz, and Rasa Smite& Raitis Smits.The
 post-media
 suggestion itself has been the subject of deliberation for around twodecades now. This audacious anthology cleverly brings some of these historical textstogether, along with newly commissioned ones, to explore the shifting ideas andspeculative practices associated with the idea of post-media. In particular, the book seeksto explore what post-media practice might indeed be in light of the commoditization andhomogenization of digital networks in the age of Web 2.0, e-shopping and masssurveillance. It achieves this goal while advocating for a new politically engaged art based on the post-media computer (the universal machine) in which post-media art would be a means of dissent that revises the relationship between producer (artist), distributor (gallery) and consumer of art (collector and museum). Thus there is pertinent food for thought here for those interested in Post-digital art, Post-conceptualism in general andanything to do with our post-convergent times. That would be almost everyone, I shouldthink, as post-convergence in art is simply a reference to artworks that occur after thevarious art media converge into code and become dematerialized representational dataembodied in the digital domain, to some extent.In the introduction to
 Provocative Alloys
, Josephine Berry Slater and Anthony Ilesquickly give us the lay of the land by reviewing some basics about the technical mediaaspect of artistic practice, such as the famous
 post-medium
 idea of art formulated by artcritic Rosalind Krauss in her 1999 essay
 A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition
 (not in the book), where she discusses the work of MarcelBroodthaers in terms of Conceptual art, television, and poststructuralist theory. Krausstied her idea to the Greenbergian concept of
medium-specificity
 where media is
 
3
recognized as differential and self-differing. But with computers, artificial intelligenceand robotics, these older techniques have become outmoded and a period of retro-mediaensues in which unproblematic art practices are found to function in essentially complicitways with global investment capital; as we see today in the run-away secondary marketfor effectively average abstract painting, usually by young men. Later in the book,Cadence Kinsey’s essay
 From Post-Media to Post-Medium: Re-thinking Ontology in Art and Technology
 takes Krauss to task, fleshing out the connections between a post-medium art that has embraced the idea of differential specificity (Krauss) and a moreradical post-media art (Guattari) by focusing on art-as-code in terms of language,genetics, and computer binary code. (page 69) I expected an investigation here of NicolasBourriaud’s
 post-medium condition
, a condition that is based on digital networks whileexcluding digital art, but received none. Perhaps this condition has received all theattention it deserves.Félix Guattari, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in 1988 when I gave him copies of the audio cassette network project
Tellus
 #20
 Media Myth
and #21
 Audio By Visual  Artists
 is the guiding light of this book - and the source of its coherent provocation to our digital status quo. His visionary term
 post-media
, coined in 1990, is intenselyinvestigated throughout the book - and updated. In his essay “Towards a Post-MediaEra,” Guattari (then an enthusiastic champion of the French Minitel system), put forth the proposition that the beginning of our post-media era starts with "the junction of television, telematics and informatics" and the “collective-individual re-appropriation andan interactive use of machines of information, communication, intelligence, art andculture.” (page 27) He then evoked a coming time of information-noise-resistance, aimedat the quietism of conventional post-modernism sample-and-remix culture.Understanding how digital convergence was remaking television, film, radio, print andtelecommunications into new hybrid forms, his essay calls for a split with mass media’sconstruction of conformity and for a new period of media from below, advocating for the production of “enunciative assemblages” (something of a motto for this book) that break with the manufacturing of the norm.

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