Introduction: The Relationship of Critical Theory and Cultural Studies to Art
that Focuses on Emerging Technologies
The impact of technology on contemporary life and culture is a vital issue in our age. Critical theory and cultural studies attempt to link the arts, literature, politics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and technology in an interdisciplinary search for relevant concepts and frameworks with which to understand the current world. Art practice and theory are being radically reshaped by this activity. This hybrid world of culture/art criticism, which places great import on the impact of emerging technologies, has seemed unexpectedly uninterested in the work of artists who work with these very technologies. Similarly, the discourse in the art/technology world -and in the technical world in general – has not engaged deeply the concepts from cultural studies. This essay attempts to elucidate some reasons that might underlie this mutual lack of attention. The essay has two objectives: It applies some concepts and lines of inquiry from cultural theory to inspect the practice of artists working with new technologies, and identifies ways their practice challenges these theoretical formulations. It then considers a range of theoretical stances artists can assume in relation to working with new technologies. Its goals are to help artists define for themselves a theoretical stance toward their work with technology and to advance the ability of art theory and art criticism to contend with new technologies.
- Stephen Wilson, San Francisco State University
Full text p.173-182