“In the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet.” _Werner Heisenberg
My research examines the complex and often conflicted attitudes towards the relationship between art and technology held by artists, engineers, and art historians in the 1960’s, a time of intensive artistic experimentation with technology. In what follows, I shall analyze statements by artists John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg, engineer Billy Klüver, and art historian/curator Pontus Hulten (using philosopher Martin Heidegger’s The Question Concerning Technology a critical foil) in order to better understand what technology signified, and what signified technology, during this culturally, socially, and politically volatile period. Statements by Jack Burnham and Maurice Tuchman, who curated major art and technology events during this time, will also be considered for their insight into the potential conflicts between artists using technology and the corporations that sponsored exhibitions including their work. By exhuming the hidden presumptions buried in the 1960’s discourses about art and technology, I hope to increase awareness of the historical, ideological underpinnings of these practices. The rhetoric of art and technology in the 1960’s tends to be bifurcated into binary oppositions of reason and belief, so this paper slides between the same poles, revealing the limits of this critical method.
- Edward A. Shanken, USA, is a doctoral candidate in Art History at Duke University. He holds a Master’s degree in Public and Private Management from Yale University. Among his publications are: Technology and Intuition: A Love Story? Roy Ascott’s Telematic Embrace, initially presented at Einstein Meets Magritte (Brussels, 1995), and Virtual Perspective and the Artistic Vision: A Genealogy of Technology, Perception, and Power. (ISEA96, Rotterdam). He is currently editing a book of essays by British artist/theorist Roy Ascott, tentatively entitled Is There Love in the Telematic Embrace? Visionary Writings on Art,Technology, and Consciousness. He has been a Fellow in Arts Management at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, a Fellow at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Duke University, and a Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany. Mr. Shanken is currently a member of the editorial board of Leonardo Digital Reviews. The paper he is presenting at ISEA97 represents his initial dissertation research on art and technology events in the US in the 1960’s
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