[FISEA’93] Keynote: Jan Hoet – Art and Technology: A Paradox or a Challenge to Articulate a Necessity of Faith


For a long time I have been sometimes fascinated and involved, but more often annoyed by the use of electronic media in art. The annoyance was such a frequent experience and reached such heights that I tended to refuse to enter into discussions about the place of electronic media as a whole. Rather, I engaged individual artists. “The place is art,” I said.

The basic reference for me remained the one to painting and its disposition to extend beyond itself. In Documenta quite a few of the referential pieces were actually videoworks. Their attitude was one of enveloping the observer rather than encountering him.

A medium can only become a message when it is internalized. Every new area needs time to become familiar. In its first phase the power of the inherent possibilities is often overwhelming, and most of the people using it are adepts of the technology rather than artists for their own sake. At the same time there are the true pioneers, developing a  sensible indication of the possibilities, intertwining the medium with their own subjectivity and intersubjectivity. The paradigms, then, often remain linked to another area, like the first ceramics to the calabash.

This period seems to be over for many of the areas of electronic possibilities, now legitimized areas in their own right. The glamour of the novelty is no longer the prime seductive adventure.

  • Jan Hoet (1936- 2014), Curator, Belgium.  Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium. President, International. Association of Art Critics. Artistic Director, Documenta IX, Kassel, Germany, 1992