“After the Tunnel: on Shifting Ontology and Ethology of the Emerging Art-subject” presented by Ag and Benayoun


Session Title:

  • Machinic Sense & Sensibility: Spatial, Interactive, Sensory Media

Presentation Title:

  • After the Tunnel: on Shifting Ontology and Ethology of the Emerging Art-subject



  • During ISEA95, the Tunnel Under the Atlantic presented an artwork that Maurice Benayoun conceived at the time as a manifesto supporting virtuality as a medium. 25 years later, we propose a new understanding of the work and its emergence along with a reconfiguration of the ontological status of contemporary media art. Rather than mere object, as defined by normalized code of representation, the artwork can now be characterized as a subject with operational sensitivities that allow complex reactive behaviors. Real-Time processing of information has played a major role in this mutation. Virtuality – understood as design of the potentialities of the work – sensors and other input devices keeping the work aware of the existence of its ‘public’ and environment seem to have converted the interactive artwork into a sentient entity, empowered with perceptive functionalities and new cognitive capacities: memory, artificial intelligence, and intentionality.

    This transductive process leading to the evolution of the original art-object into the art-subject announces an expansion of what is considered the artwork’s milieu and potentiality. More recent works of Benayoun help us to envision the next steps in this evolution: opening the ontology of art further towards its subjective capacities and possible dynamic implications in society.