[ISEA2011] Paper: Søren Pold & Christian Ulrik Andersen – Digital Art and Culture After Industry? TOWARDS AESTHETIC BUSINESS STUDIES


When art and business or economy is related it is currently often through the concept of experience economy (Pine & Gilmore), however, such concepts of aesthetics and art often borders on the escapist and argues for an aesthetic harmonizing of contradictions. This paper will suggest that the ruptures, disruptions, clashes and breakdowns of contemporary art are more valuable contributions.

In the 1930’s materialist theoreticians such as Georg Lukács and Walter Benjamin were discussing how the change in the “Unterbau” of reproductions technologies affected the “Überbau” of culture, economy and thinking and how art could respond to this – either by submitting to it unconsciously (e.g. as a consumer good, “Zur-Ware-Werden”, (Lukács)) or by taking it up and exploring it as a conscious, dialectical “Tendenz” (Benjamin), which entails a critical exploration of how the art work is part of the production process, technology and economy.

The thesis I would like to put forth and test is that art has the potential to critically probe new media economies. Probably art can even be seen as a key developer of new economies such as we have seen earlier with the addressing of industrial production of the historical avant-garde leading to Bauhaus and modern design or with the 1960’s avant-garde addressing the tertiary sector (creative industries, mass media, advertisement, etc.). The question at the end might be what happens when this artistic exploration gets recuperated, if it is good or bad for art and artists and if there are opportunities to change this?

The paper will discuss its idea with examples from digital art, where the production, distribution, showing and selling has become part of the artistic work. An example will be Electroboutique (Chernyshev, Shulgin et al.), a series of works that address the current value of critical art, relations between software and objects and develops its own artistic economy.

  • Søren Bro Pold is Ph.D, Associate Professor of digital aesthetics at IMV, University of Aarhus, Denmark, part of DUL  and founding member of DARC (Digital Aesthetics Research Center. He has published in Danish and English on digital and media aesthetics – from the 19th c. panorama to the interface, e.g. on electronic literature, net art, software art, creative software, urban interfaces and digital culture. Together with Christian Ulrik Andersen he edited the anthology “Interface Criticism – Aesthetics Beyond the Buttons” (2011). 
  • Christian Ulrik Andersen (DK) is associate professor and chair of Digital Aesthetics Research Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark. He researches within digital aesthetics, software cities and computer games. Together with Søren Pold he recently edited the book “Interface Criticism – aesthetics beyond the buttons” (2011). He is also a researcher at the Centre for Digital Urban Living, Aarhus University. pure.au.dk/portal/en/imvcua@hum.au.dk

Full text (PDF) p. 1949-1954