Critical Strategies in Art and Media

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Date/Time: 15/04/2010 12:00 am

Below the introduction to “Critical Strategies in Art and Media” the book
and now online as a video in two parts…
Join us next Thursday April 15 for a book launch hosted by Ted Byfield —
with remarks by Marco Deseriis (NYU), Steve Kurtz (Critical Art Ensemble),
Andy Bichlbaum (The Yes Men), Ken Wark (NSU), and Trebor Scholz (NSU)
Cheers, K
In September 2009, the World-Information Institute organized a roundtable
conference on “Critical Strategies in Art and Media” in New York City. For a
full day, digital theorists and practitioners met to debate the future of
art and culture in a fast-changing world and in a shifting economic and
ecological environment. Profound changes related to global digital
information and communication systems challenge the cultural heritage of the
future and require independent cultural intelligence analysis. Does art have
any relevance beyond the role of the corporate style consultant or the
decoration of digital-product worlds? Is there any need for art beyond its
function as status décor, tax-minimizing investment, or a special market
Today the sacred aura and mythical uniqueness of the object, closely
connected with the cult of beauty emerging with the bourgeois world, is
still the dominant art form. The deeply ingrained economic logic that
mystifies cultural creation and emphasizes unique individuality has never
been overcome. Amidst all the pretensions of authenticity, the focus on
meaningless “innovations” and “individual” personalities consistently
produces market failures. Meanwhile the cultural peacekeeping industry of
the military-entertainment complex makes inroads into the imagination, and
increasingly influences behavior at every level. At the same time, the
agonizingly dull myth of the “Creative Cultural Industries” — that they
bring the fine arts in from the cold and into the productive forces of the
economy — raises questions about dissent and critique. The
bourgeois-bohemian Creative Class confuses talent with a fetish for
lifestyle technology and mistakes ignorance for tolerance. It isn’t just the
finance world that’s ensnared in Ponzi schemes: exploited by finance to
create meaning for their belief system, arts and culture develop bad
practices and mechanisms of self-reinforcing silliness all by themselves. By
now gestures of rebellion have become the stuff of everyday marketing. In
the supermarket of farcical Web 2.0 socialism, a naive off-the-shelf
critique comes at a discount. Greenwashing and community kitsch are the
order of the day.
This book is based on the statements, debate and interventions moderated by
the editors on September 10 2009, and include a range of additional
commentaries by the participants. An amalgam of postmodern perplexity and
bourgeois disorientation in neoliberal market economies achieves and
sustains an abysmal lack of vision. With the decline of postmodern theory
and a growing weakness of neoliberal ideological hegemony, a serious
reassessment of “critical cultural practice” seems necessary.
Konrad Becker and Jim Fleming
New York/Vienna, December 2009
:: April 15, 2010; 6:30 – 8:15 pm :: Wollman Hall, New School University, 65
West 11th St, 5th Floor, New York, NY.
April 15, 2010; 6:30 – 8:15 pm :: Wollman Hall, New School University, 65
West 11th St, 5th Floor, New York, NY.
Contributions by: Konrad Becker (World-Information Institute), Ted Byfield
(Nettime), Amanda McDonald Crowley (Eyebeam) Steve Kurtz (Critical Art
Ensemble), Jim Fleming (Autonomedia), Claire Pentecost (Continental Drift),
Peter Lamborn Wilson (Temporary Autonomous Zone). Interventions by Franco
Bifo Berardi, Marco Deseriis, Rene Gabri, Brian Holmes, McKenzie Wark, and
Felix Stalder.