Panel: From New Media to Old Utopias: ‘Red’ Art in Late Capitalism?
In its original meaning u-topia means the lack of topos. This condition is inherent in the new media artwork. Due to its immaterial quality and non-object status, the new media art is not physically tied to a specific space unless displayed. Thus the white cube, turned black for the occasion, hosts its virtual and ephemeral image, or, in other words, it becomes the topos of its physical realization. Whereas the non object-based art is a predominant tendency spanning through the 20th century, the time-based media introduce a new multi-layer spatio-temporal condition within the work. The moving image, derived from the cinematographic paradigm, has by definition its own virtual spatio-temporality which unfolds during its projection. As far as the software and net-based creations are concerned, supplementary layers are automatically added. When the artwork is installed in a physical space, a new dimension appears: the real installation space and time as experienced by the spectator. Since both virtual and real spatio-temporal layers coexist simultaneously, the work evolves within this dialectical pattern. This literally “u-topian” condition results from the utopian (in the sense of revolutionary) nature of the new media art that rises above questions of unique prototype, controlled reproducibility and object ownership; hence, a new genuinely utopian artistic condition emerges. To speak in Marxist terms, it is the a priori negation of the commodity fetishism that imposes the literal, as well as the metaphorical, utopia. Thus, new media, the pillar of the late capitalism public sphere, becomes the new field of revolutionary cultural practices. I will further analyse this paradoxical -or rather coherent, according to Frederic Jameson- condition where the Marxist logic is fully implemented in the most emblematic form of the post-modern art: the new media.
- Christina Vatsella is an art historian based in Paris. She is a PhD candidate in History of Art at the Université Paris Sorbonne – Paris IV working on the question of space in video installation. Following a residency at the ZKM, her Master degree focused on the institutionalisation of netart. She has worked at the Museum of Cycladic Art (Athens, Greece), the Centre Pompidou (New Media Department) and the Centre de recherches en Arts of the Université d’Amiens (Picardie, France). She works as a freelance curator and her articles have been published in exhibition catalogues, art journals and university editions.
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