[ISEA2011] Panel: Bill Bal­askas (moderator) – From New Media to Old Utopias: ‘Red’ Art in Late Capitalism?

Panel Statement

Chair Per­son: Bill Bal­askas
Pre­sen­ters: Christina Vat­sella, Beryl Gra­ham, Philip Glahn, Melanie Lenz & Athana­sia Daphne Drag­ona

From the early stages of its de­vel­op­ment, New Media Art read­ily adopted a va­ri­ety of means of artis­tic en­gage­ment and ex­pres­sion that aim at serv­ing modes of utopian so­cial being: from multi-modal col­lab­o­ra­tion to mass par­tic­i­pa­tion and from open soft­ware to hack­tivism, the germs of left­ist utopian thought seem to abound in the art of the Dig­i­tal Age. It ap­pears that New Media Art in­creas­ingly em­ploys new tech­nolo­gies in order to pen­e­trate all as­pects of global so­cial liv­ing and prop­a­gate such prac­tices as cat­a­lysts for change. It has grad­u­ally be­come part of an ide­ol­ogy whose ob­jec­tives al­lude to utopian the­o­ries of so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion lying closer to cer­tain vi­sions of com­mu­nism, than to the re­al­i­ties of late cap­i­tal­ism within which new media op­er­ate.

This panel ses­sion in­tends to in­ves­ti­gate the rel­e­vance of com­mu­nist utopi­anism to New Media Art’s ide­o­log­i­cal dis­po­si­tions, as a start­ing point from which wider po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and cul­tural im­pli­ca­tions of New Media Art could be ex­plored. In this con­text, areas of in­ter­est ad­dressed by the panel’s con­trib­u­tors will, amongst oth­ers, in­clude: Marx­ist the­ory and the dig­i­tal art ob­ject, de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion of art through au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion, lit­eral and metaphor­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion in the realm of new media, eco­nomic ac­tors and net­works shap­ing the char­ac­ter of New Media Art, in­sti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of New Media Art and re­lated cul­tural poli­cies. Through the syn­the­sis of such di­verse points of view, the ses­sion will at­tempt to de­mys­tify whether and to what ex­tent the art of the Dig­i­tal Age is, or could be, the re­sult of the seem­ingly para­dox com­bi­na­tion of cap­i­tal­ism’s prod­ucts and com­mu­nism’s vi­sions.

  • Bill Bal­askas is a Lon­don-based artist work­ing with video and dig­i­tal media. He stud­ied Eco­nom­ics and Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion be­fore de­cid­ing to com­pletely change di­rec­tion by study­ing film and video at the Royal Col­lege of Art, in Lon­don. His work has been widely ex­hib­ited in­ter­na­tion­ally. Re­cent and forth­com­ing solo ex­hi­bi­tions in­clude pre­sen­ta­tions at In­sti­tut Français de Thes­sa­lonique, Greece (2011); Jew­ish Mu­seum, Lon­don; and Sketch Gallery, Lon­don (both 2010). Re­cent and forth­com­ing group ex­hi­bi­tions and screen­ings in­clude pre­sen­ta­tions at Eliz­a­beth Foun­da­tion for the Arts, New York (2011); Musée des Abat­toirs, Toulouse; British Film In­sti­tute, Lon­don; Werk-Raum Gallery, Berlin; and A Foun­da­tion, Liv­er­pool (all 2010). Bill Bal­askas is, also, an awarded short fic­tion writer (British Coun­cil of Greece, 2005) and screen­writer (World­fest Hous­ton In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, 2006). More in­for­ma­tion: billbalaskas.com
  • Bill Bal­askas’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in ISEA2011 is kindly sup­ported by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Art His­to­ri­ans (aah.org.uk), the Eu­ro­pean Cul­tural Foun­da­tion (eurocult.org) and Open So­ci­ety In­sti­tute (soros.org).