VISUAL SPLITS: NEW MEDIA MATTERS
19:00-20:30 Special event
Guest lecture of Sabine Himmelsbach (Germany) "The Invisible Dimension in Contemporary Urban Space"
14:00-17:30 – 1st session
Discassion: Dmitry Galkin
18:00-21:30 – 2nd session
Discassion: Dmitry Bulatov
14:00-17:30 – 1st session
Discassion: Olga Shishko
18:00-21:30 – 2nd session
Discassion: Andrey Shcherbenok
14:00-15:30 Special event
Guest lecture of Oliver Grau (Germany) "Media arts challenge for our societies: MediaArtHistories, Image Science & the Archive 2.0"
Panel 1. Avant-Garde and New Media: What Didn't Dziga Vertov Know? ↑
In his seminal book on the topic, Lev Manovich famously used Dziga Vertov's 1929 film The Man with a Movie Camera to illustrate fundamental characteristics of new media. The striking similarity between many Vertov's and other avant-garde discoveries and contemporary new media leads us to the question: what is there in new media that avant-garde did not practice or at least presage? If contemporary technology made a lot of avant-garde dreams possible, would an avant-garde artist make a full-blown contemporary media artist if s/he miraculously obtained this technology, or would he still be missing something very important?
Dmitry Bulatov (Russia) «Jesuit theatre and art of new media» ↑
It is considered that art only focused on media in XIX-XX centuries, with the development of photography techniques, cinema, television and the following computer technologies. However, those who would like to trace the history of media art from the very beginning, must look much further than the XX century. The breadth of the subject can be clearly seen in the process of unprecedented role of media in the conflict of Reformation and Counterreformation in XVI century – at that time the idea of Rescue was replaces by ideas of Health and Freedom. This period marked by the emergence of many technical innovations in art and society. The activity Jesuit monks who have joined in their ranks academics, theologians and artists, provokes particular interest. In speaker opinion, at this time, the concept of contemporary media art was created. It is, according to Ignatius Loyola, who was the Counter-Reformation ideologist, "useful in the contemplation of images of Hell, so that a person's faith can gain godly character."
Ekaterina Lazareva (Russia) «Futurism as a forefeeling of new media» ↑
Manifestos and declarations of Italian and Russian futurists are rich in examples of foreseeing of new kinds of creative work, invention of new techniques and genres - from performance, sonorant and visual poetry to kinetic art, sound art, video art and complex interactive installations. In which way does the historical avant-garde correlate with the contemporary versions of the “art of the future”? Where is the pole of innovations today? Perhaps Dziga Vertov took some of his secrets with him to the grave forever.
Mikhail Stepanov (Russia) «The traces of a machine: genealogy of the “complex apparatus – operator” of Vilém Flusser» ↑
The pioneer in the theory of media Vilém Flusser described difficult dialogic relations between a man and a technical device as the “complex apparatus – operator”. This concept is very precise as concerns the contemporary media culture and the practices of technological art. An artist is always in dialogue, in a fight with an apparatus, and the result of this fight is unknown. The discovery of apparatus’ possibilities, allowing new vision, was made by Russian avant-garde, in particular by Dziga Vertov. The report will trace the genealogy of the concept and describe its functioning in the contemporary visual culture.
Andrey Shcherbenok (Russia) «Film-Thing and CGI» ↑
The Film-Thing is a film made according to the principles of Dziga Vertov's Kino-Eye – seems quite incompatible with CGI, computer-generated imagery. Vertov's film-thing is a phenomenon of "non-played", documentary cinema that attempts to catch life "unawares"; it minimizes the creative arbitrariness of a screen writer and a film director and strives for the immediate, indexical representation of reality "as it is". Apparently, this concept has no place for the programmability of the image, which characterizes new media in general and CGI in particular. However, the film-thing is at the same time a radical construction performed by the Kino-Eye as a mechanical apparatus (a movie camera, a montage table, and a projector) and explicitly opposed to human eye with its everyday perception. Like a CGI, the film-thing merely makes use of the elements of the real world which it subjects to the "communist decoding"; it is a "factory of facts" that produces reality according to the pre-determined (party) program. How is the concept with such glaring contradiction at its core at all possible? And isn't there a comparable contradiction behind the notion of CGI and new media in general?
Lubov Bugaeva (Russia) «On the way to the art of the future: from biodynamics to neurocinematics» ↑
Eisenstein was a pioneer in the field of the biodynamic research of emotional expression. He saw the connection between the structures of emotional experience and the composition of the cutting. The enactive approach is also based on the idea of perception as a sensory-led activity. According to S.Zeka, an artist is a neurophysiologist, investigating the potential and the abilities of the brain, although with the help of his own instruments. The narrative stream in the enactive cinema is perceived not only consciously through the verbal and visual levels of the film but also through the subconscious psycho physiological involvement of the soectator. A step to the cinema of the future is the creation of special films aimed at giving stimuli interesting from the point of view of neurocinematics (“Crash” by P. Haggis, “Obsession” and “The Queen” by Pia Tikka). Are these experiments successful? Is elective approach possible in intellectual cinema? Should contemporary director orientate himself toward neuroscience?
Panel 2. Imitations of Life: What Is Visual Evidence Beyond Indexicality? ↑
Photography emerged as a documentary genre first and foremost because it created indexical signs of reality: actual light reflected from an actual object left an actual trace on the sensitive plate without much interference on the part of the photographer. As such, a photograph constituted a legally acceptable document, visual evidence of the thing "having being there" in front of the lens. This status was then shared by cinematography and analog voice recording, both providing an immediate link between actual object and its visual or acoustic sign. However, with the advent of the digital, the indexicality of technology-based visual images is vanishing rapidly. Does this mean that there will soon be no more visual documents in the evidentiary sense of the word or is there something that is replacing indexicality as a guarantee of reality?
Lev Manovich (USA) «Looking at one million images: How visualization of big cultural data helps us to question our cultural categories» ↑
How can we do research with massive visual collections of user-generated content containing billions of images? What new theoretical concepts do we need to deal with the new scale of born-digital culture? How do we use data mining of massive cultural data sets to question our cultural assumptions and biases, and "unlearn" what we know?
In 2007 author established Software Studies Initiative (softwarestudies.com) to begin working on these questions. He will show examples of our projects including analysis of 1 million pages from 887 manga books, 1 million artworks from deviantArt (online community for user-created art), and 2.3 million Instagram photos from 13 global cities. We will discuss how computational analysis and visualization of big cultural data sets leads us to question traditional discrete categories used for cultural categorization such as "style" and "period." Speaker will also address a fundamental question we face when researching social media: is it a "window" into social reality, a reflection of lifestyle of particular demographics, or an effect of software itself? In short - is social visual media (such as Instagram) a "message" or a "medium"?
Alexandra Portyannikova (Russia) «Real body and its Facebook avatar» ↑
Virtual reality, constructed by social media, is intrinsically bound with the everyday life. The necessity to look others’ news and publish your own, register real life in photos and transfer it into the virtual space – all this alters our consciousness and ways of communication with the world. Online space offers an opportunity to control the stream of information we want to share with the surrounding, which allows for an ideal presentation of ourself.
We can suppose that terrorist attacks have brought about a new image of a civilized world citizen - a Facebook user, whose private life is open to everybody thus declaring him to be open, predictable and innocuous.
The dark side of this openness in the virtual space is a tendency of distancing from the reality.
To study this phenomenon an experiment was conducted. It consisted of a series of performances in the city environment (qr_trip). The participants of the performance wore masks with QR-codes on them, which gave access to the personal pages of the performers on Facebook.
Nikolay Poselyagin (Russia) «Photography after Indexicality» ↑
The report presents an attempt to problematise the notion of indexicality itself. It is viewed as a result of a social contract between the photographer (and later the cameraman and the sound engineer) and the public, when one side is considered to provide supposedly realistic and authentic images, while the other confirms their status. The borders of indexicality in photography became vague even before the broad implementation of digital technologies, in the 50s and 60s. The world wide spread of digital technology has facilitated this process. It is probably connected to the total revision of the category of reality, which started during the same period. Nowadays the discussion of documentality of photography must concentrate not on its indexicality and connection to reality but on its correspondence to the conventions, which redefine the notion of reality for different audiences, while these audiences are aware of these conventions as such - constructed systems of coordinates. The status of the document would mean the connection not to the reality but to these conventions, and photography, loosing its indexicality, but gets symbolism in turn (in the sense proposed by C.S.Peirce)
Marta Heberle (Poland) «Living media. Reality displaced by copies and the monsters of hyperreality» ↑
On the border of silicone and carbon a new type of media is being produced. It's fleshy, wet and differs much from our common perception of digital technology. These engineered living media require new ontology and new taxonomy: traditional media discourses, as well as philosophical concepts concerning life remain helpless. Although it is not fully understood what it is exactly that is created, techniques developed within the field of biotechnology are appropriated by artists. When the recombined organisms are conceived in domain known as bioart, they annihilate the immemorial paradigm in art: the notion of representation. What was considered fundamental for art practice gives way to mere presentation. Indexicality is substituted with identity, with sinister presence of new life. However, apart from identical organisms, also new, unknown living beings are created. Admittedly, they remain in a certain relation with the prototypical organisms for they are created with known genes. However, they are at the same uncanny and appear a threat to reality, as we know it. When accurate copies, hybrids, monsters or simply new species emerge, is reality disrupted? Is it consumed by its perfect evidence? Or is a new independent reality created? If so, what kind of reality do these living media constitute? In my presentation I will reflect upon these issues by analyzing few chosen examples of living artworks.
The arrival of digital technologies has given birth to two prejudices.
The first is that an individual has lost the indexical connection with the reality. But in the case of a photo image a digital is just a way of the encoding a picture. In an analogous image a picture is also encoded but not through a digit, but through chemical reactions which transform the ray of light. There is a difference, but not an absolute one. Analogous images were subject to manipulation and deformation as well as digital ones.
The second is the idea of all-powerful manipulation and control of digital codes by the programmer. But today the programs are so difficult, that there are no more fully controlled programs. Increasing complexity of digital codes removes digital technologies from control and introduces a strong element of unpredictability and randomness.
Panel 3. The Gallery and the Metro: How Does New Media Art Change Everyday Perceptions? ↑
A person entering a contemporary art gallery, one with media art installations in particular, is forced to change their mundane way of perceiving the world. He encounters split screens, multiple points of view, the collapse of spatial and temporary distances, dislocation and dissolution of stable subjective identities, etc. Such works of art are often considered harbingers of the new perceptual discipline that will at some point become dominant in the world at large. Is this process of the pedagogy of perception really underway? For example, when our visitor leaves the gallery and enters the metro or any other conventional space, does he bears a residue of the gallery experience and sees the world in some novel ways that have a potential to become widespread?
Bio art is entering its new, ethico-ecological phase. I will use the work of one of its pioneers, - Kathy High and her "Embracing Animals" project - to discuss the main characteristics of anthropological aesthetic and its limits. The question of visutality of transgenic animals, from their demonstrations in art installations, documentation of living with them, to their portraits and the involvement in educational programs will be explored in further detail. In conclusion, I will argue that theories and practices of biotechnological art, which is closely associated now with animal studies and their philosophy of life, would widen its conceptual horizon through Jainism and its long tradition of non-harm.
Whether we think in techno-determinist way or occupy a socio-constructivist position, when we think about new media an issue of borders naturally comes out – borders they set, erase or expand. Especially if we talk about the borders between public and private, physical and virtual, technological and live. New screen media are more and more organizing as well as subverting the sphere of privacy with smart phones, tablets, smart TVs, play stations. Post-screen new media deconstruct the physical borders of the urban space with interactive architecture, media facades, social robots. Hybrid (carried) new media form a new experience of the body and digital intimity (Google Glass, Healby). Digital culture initiates new technological cycles of “virtualisation-materialisation”, defining the logic of development of the new media communications. Principles and borders of the functioning of the new media come closer and closer to autonomous behavior and modeling of artificial life. Shift and movement of the borders becomes the basis for the search of new interpretations of what are the new media and their process.
The last century witnessed a series of epistemological shifts (ontological, linguistic etc.), but it was the media shift of the late 90-ies which became the only synchronic event in the pair first/second world. This didn’t however abolish this dichotomy, but only surprisingly revealed its vanishing meaning. Documental fixation of such a minimal difference at the moment when it is still minimally valid is a task historical in its meaning and at the same time constructive in its intention.
Documentation of vanishing meanings does not check the theory of the media shift, but rather imposes its own event substrate on it, which is absent in the everyday life not checking itself. It imposes something, which is finally impossible for the theory to deal with, for the best hopes of the experimentalist and the one upon whom the experiment is conducted. The hope for the failure of the theory by the experimentalist is always a special situation, open only for a thought experiment. In this sense the most interesting cases documentarily are ones, in which the visual complexity of the contemporary art is separated from the event and the neutral background shines through, the inertness of which is guaranteed by the social milieu, as in public leisure spaces typical for the “second” world.
With the new media Humanity for the first time in its history has received a technical implementation of tools which is called "Technologies of the Self" – the technologies through which man can know itself through the "care of itself" (Foucault). First of all, these are interactive technologies. They become all-pervading and broadly available, thus becoming an important factor of the human life experience. We look realistically at the novelty and importance of the interactive art, because the cognitive abilities of a human being and its physiology do not exceed the level of the Stone Age. Interactivity of a work is broader than the technical ability of the interface, the main interface of art being human consciousness. The works of art which are less like a window or a stage (for a passive observer) and more like a tool, pointing the viewer’s attention back to himself, his own consciousness and perceptions – this is the ideal we all hope for the artists working with new media.
Panel 4. Tradition and Contemporary Media Art: Is Classical Art Still Relevant? ↑
Since the time of the Impressionists, if not earlier, contemporary art claimed to be radically reconsidering, subverting or getting rid of artistic tradition. The experience of classical art was, therefore, essential to understand the ways avant-garde of various kinds defamiliarized and overturned traditional artistic norms. What is the situation with contemporary media art? Is it only thinkable as a reaction to “old-media” (classical or avant-garde) or has it acquired a certain self-sufficiency? In other words, is it necessary to have been submerged in traditional media in order to properly appreciate new media?
Velikanov Andrey (Russia) «Mediating art and semiotics of environment» ↑
On the practice of use of some words in art theory and art practice. What happens when fraises and text full with specific scientific terms is translated into Russian? Does the meaning change? Is anything left of it? Is the language of a theoretical statement about art a mode of communication? Or it has other goals for instance to denote an author as a member of elite? Do we know for sure the meaning not only of rarely used terms but also of such widely known as art, media and avant-garde?
Alexandr Evangeli (Russia) «Portrait and ornament: Mass media and the birth of the iconography of the masses» ↑
After the First World War in the 20-ies a new type of portrait appeared in Europe representing a person without a face or with a covered face. The explanations made by the history of art bear local character and in fact ignore the fact of the birth of new iconography as a historical symptom of paneuropean situation. If we trace the origins and the circulation of this iconography, we can find connection with one more type of images appearing at the same time. We mean ornamental images of the regular masses – athletes, soldiers, children etc. If we study the context and the predecessors it becomes clear that the disciplinary order is crystallized in the end-19-century practices of upbringing.
The presentation will describe the connection of the new types of images, key for the contemporary visual sphere to the new ways of seeing and presenting the social and the individual, to the First World War and breaking changes of the social and political order. Totalitarian regimes, which are being formed at that time, present themselves in the changing regimes of seeing. Individual vision gives way to a vision not discerning a particular face and transforming a subject into a unit of the mass.
Zhagun-Linnik Elvira (Russia) «Mistake as a Formative Strategy in the contemporary Art of the 20th and 21st century» ↑
Olga Shishko (Russia) «Transformations of panoramic painting: from physical immersion to critical manipulation» ↑
Panoramas, fakes, simulations disappear from the history of art from time to time to reappear anew each time dressed in a new technological reality, thus projecting a new aesthetics and new ways of thinking.
The dual nature of reality and optical illusions have become an object of research of artists during the classical period of visual art as well as today when artists “mix reality”, creating a fantastic 3D-landscape reminding us of the illusion of panoramic painting of the 19th century.
The real world gradually becomes a fabric for a virtual (accelerated) panorama. But the optical attraction of the past changes its meaning: today a viewer becomes a part of a system observed by him, a visual construction with deep immersion is created, where the behavior and the content of an image change depending on the actions of the viewer. The image space functions as a portal, allowing for penetration into a pseudo-real physical space and back. Programmed images are used often for analyses, control and manipulation of spectator, and more and more often we ask a question: are the physical space and an illusion really so distant or it is a balanced pair of realities?