June 23, 2010

"There Should Be No Computer Art,"

by Frieder Nake, an early pioneer of the medium, here. The article, published in 1971, fits right into recent discussions re- the ART WORK newspaper. Nake wrote:

The discussion centers around the question "is it [computer art] or is it not art?" . . . I find it easy to admit that computer art did not contribute to the advancement of art if we judge "advancement" by comparing the computer products to all existing works of art. In other words, the repertoire of results of aesthetic behaviour has not been changed by the use of computers. (This point of view, namely that of art history, is shared and held against "computer art" by many art critics . . . .) There is no doubt in my mind, on the other hand, that interesting new methods have been found, which can be of some significance for the creative artist. And beyond methodology, but certainly influenced by it, we find that a thorough understanding of "computer art" includes an entirely new relationship between the creator(s) and the creation: [M. Bense] uses the term "art as a model for art" in this context.

[Goes on to say the art world is dominated by dealers, who invent new "styles," and how computer art is the latest fashion. Says we read complaints that "real" artists lack access to the expensive equipment required and that really interesting results could be obtained if that access were provided.]

At the same time, artists become aware of the role they play in providing an aesthetic justification of and for bourgeois society. Some reject the system of prizes and awards, disrupt big international exhibitions, organize themselves in cooperatives in order to be independent of the galleries, contribute to the building of an environment that people can live in.

I find it very strange that . . . outsiders from technology should . . . try to save [the world of art] with new methods of creation, old results, and by surrendering to the given "laws of the market" in a naive and ignorant matter. The fact that they use new methods makes them blind to notice that they actually perpetuate a situation which has become unbearable for many artists.
It just gets better from there. Follow-up here (the reference to the "Artist Placement Group, which injects artists into industry not for patronage but as agents of change" might interest you, Maureen) and here. I disagree with Nake's conclusion, but I like his observations.

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