[ISEA96] Round Table: Cynthia Beth Rubin – Breaking the Code: Art that Does Not Stand on its Own

Round Table Statement

Traditional wisdom has it that the successful art object should stand on its own, without the need for further explanation. Implicit in this statement is the understanding that the viewer will be initiated into the cultural codes of the artist, or, more commonly, that they operate with the same cultural codes. The “World Wide” nature of the Web, and of modern society in general, renders such assumptions out-dated. Furthermore, the very format of the World Wide Web is in opposition to the concept of the stand alone art object, as it invites links from image to related textual information to another image to sound and so on. Museums and galleries post information on the wall, performers distribute programs, and books include introductions, but seldom are these read with the same intensity as parallel information on the Web. How does the widespread use of the format of the WWW for viewing art liberate artists from the idea of the work of art as a stand alone creation? Will artists be able to operate outside of mainstream, public cultural codes and references, by providing the audience with keys to understanding the context? And how will these ideas carry over into non-Web exhibitions of either static or moving or inter-active works? Will the Web provide the impetus for artists to include sources and alternative states of a work as an integral part of artistic presentations, both on and off of the Web? Can it serve as the model in bringing audiences to expect artists to provide context?

  • Cynthia Beth Rubin, USA,¬†University of Vermont

Full text p.151-152