[ISEA94] Paper: Alla Mitrofanova – Art and Technology as the New Avant-garde


The status and understanding of technology in the computer epoch is very different from ‘optic-engine based technology’. As opposed to the human body, an engine is a different body/construction. The human body was understood as a unit, as an undebatable organism. Computer technology can’t be separated in reflective categories from the subject and, in a way, from the body. A machine now is not a structure that is alienated from the subject. (Structures don’t go on the streets! slogan of 1968). Technology is intermingled with intimate human life as a part of the ‘molecular structure’. Technology seems to be saturated with desire, seduction, ‘automata of the body’. It is supposed to be combined with desire with functions of the body and the filters of perception.

Assemblage of Representations, Body
When making a comparison between the body and the subject we work on the side of the subject. Making analyzable the bodily practices and the unconscious, we are continuing to dissociate the body, from one side and to incorporate it into forms of representations from the other side. The only territory of the body is the terrain of transgression, affect, death, sex. The
body is incorporated into language and viewed through a multitude of practices. The practices could be understood as an assemblage of verbal and visual possibilities taken from past and present (marginal and dominant) culture.

The Art of the Disembodied Subject
a) Dislocation. A virtual portrait (in VR games, for example) could include the following: mind, age , character, temperament, style, design, sex. Everything that was articulated, analyzed inside the subject could be terminated and artificially used. A subject is a landscape, open for a multitude of subjects, that can be recombined or segmented for different needs and functions. A subject can’t live beyond the cultural media: literature, film, TV. It needs to be disembodied, moved to interfere with other life forms and to be dislocated from the automatic ‘natural’ body. It has a multitude of images and a freedom of recombining and choosing itself.
b) Segmentation and interactivity. Interactivity is different from communication and information. An interactive technology needs a special subject and atactics, that avoids stable codes and emphasizes the process of collaborative acting.
The paper will be illustrated with conceptual and video installations by Russian artists and by experts from experimental TV in Russia and the Piazza Virtuale in Kassel, Germany.

  • Alla Mitrofanova 1983 graduated from the department of Art History at the State University of Leningrad, Russia. 1983-86 curator of Pavlovsk Palace and Park Museum of 18th and 19th century culture. 1987-89 Independent curator and art critic. 1989-94 Director of Art Critic Center in St. Petersburg. Member of expert committee of Soros Center for
    Contemporary Art. Organized several symposiums, seminars and held lectures e.g. on art, technology and communication, and written articles concentrating on communication.