[ISEA95] Panel: Doug Back – Critical friction: in your face, real space

Panel Statement

Panel: Three-space

Artists have always used new technologies… the first person that blew paint through a hollow stick to reproduce an image of their hand on a cave wall was using technology. As Jean Picht has said “a flute is a machine and a piano is a very complex machine”.

I was looking at a Windsor Newton painting products catalog recently and the photographs in it show hands mixing paint with a mortar and pedestal, no where in it is any hint of a production line or the large powerful computers this company must own, certainly much more powerful than anything I could afford. The painting crowd is still in denial. The arguments about whether artists should engage with computer technology or not, are dead. Affordable computer technology has been in the hands of the general public and artists for fifteen years. Computers are old tech. The discussion about whether artists should engage with high technologies or not are now in the hands of those artists dealing with bio/medical art, Orlan, Joe Davis and  Stelarc. The only determining factor on the popularity of electronic art is whether electronic technology is in current public moral favour, and the coverage of the gulf war certainly has put computer technology in a favourable light in the west. Now that our field has aged significantly and we are secure in our place in art history we can look forwards to openly discussing the factions within eIectronic art, the In Your face artists and… I guess we would have to call them the In Your Machine artists, the political artists and the apolitical artists. One thing that this field has sorely lacked is critical friction and critical friction is what will make or break technologically
based art works.

  • Doug Back has been making electronic art since 1979. He has shown this work across Canada and in Italy, France, Holland, Germany, Austria and in New York. He teaches mechanics, art history, electronics ond computer programming at The Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Canada.

Full text p.10-11