Panel: The Art Mainstream as the Enemy
This paper will address some of the more pressing theoretical and curatorial issues facing the new media technologies and the postmodern museum. Too often established curators and museum directors are ignorant of the relevant socio-cultural formations, histories, effects and contexts of the new media in their problematic muselogical efforts to contextualise them in our post-mechanical age. Consequently, artists, technologists and academics who are concerned with the new computer-inflected media are poorly served by the postmodern museum’s attempt to present itself as a mass medium spectacle in our individual and collective lives. There is a pronounced aesthetic and ethical abdication evident in the more recent ahistorical drive to present the new technical media in the high-modernist ‘white cube space’ (0’Doherty) of today’s muselogical landscape. We need to remind ourselves that galleries, museums and the academy are obliged to examine contemporary museological practice in the context of a critique of amnesia as a mass-mediated malady of late-capitalist culture. This is not new in itself, as Andreas Huysen has recently reminded us, with Adorno’s, Benjamin’s and Heidegger’s inter-war writings on culture’s obsession with memory and the fetish nature of mass cultural forms. The postmoderm museum, despite its celebratory rhetoric of online avant-guardism, should be interrogated in terms of how today’s cybernetic virus of amnesia is problematising memory in everyday culture. Further, there is also a curatorial refusal (particularly in Australia; but noticeable elsewhere as well) to acknowledge the new media arts as a valid integral part of the overall conceptual and material architecture of the museum today.
- John Conomos (Australia), Media Artist, Theorist and Critic, Sydney