Still Silent After All These Years


Session Title:

  • Short Paper Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • Still Silent After All These Years



  • A conference which takes revolution as its theme should look beyond the simple picture of “new” media supplanting “old media” at the local arts centre. The digital spreads sideways, so that old and new forms co-exist, blend, evolve. We don’t need a new hierarchy, a new “techno-aesthetics” full of “post-biological visions” and compulsory interactive art-formats. The Wiring Up of aesthetic response, the coercion to “take part”, the “user-friendly” museum, are not the only, or necessarily the most progressive directions the digital arts can take. In an electronic gallery filled with art shouting for attention, with techno-gimmicks, special effects, remote link-ups, virtual experiences, there is a need for the well-crafted image, composed, still; the self-sufficient object that invites a few moments contemplation. That may now represent a dissenting category in the impatient advance of new media art. Our session will emphasise the continuing potential of this stillness, this silence, this power of suggestion.

    When did the still image, the digital print, fall from grace? The critical bandwidth is now given over to the technology of the network and the spectacle. Perhaps it’s because artists engaged in still imagery, in computer hardcopy, are considered insufficiently radical. They remain within the orbit of painting, printmaking, photography, i.e. the traditional. But assessing the strength’ and weakness of a new work shouldn’t involve a checklist of functions and enhancements. Art isn’t quite the same as software: it’s less useful, and it does sometimes linger on after the upgrade.