The Art Mainstream As The Enemy


Session Title:

  • Short Paper Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • The Art Mainstream As The Enemy



  • A Coda Presentation of the discussion previously occurring at ISEA98REVOLUTION in Liverpool: a brief history of the development of art & technology since Cybernetic Serendipity in 1968. Then a reflection on the fact that the art mainstream (academies, commercial and state galleries) ignored the field for a long period. When, finally, they did adopt it (in the early 1980s after it had become fashionable) they did so in a way that ignored (undermined) the “significant” agenda and served only to perpetuate their own outmoded paradigm. In particular they promote work where the value (aesthetic or monetary) is intrinsic to the work.

    This places the mainstream’s adoption of art & technology as an extension of modern-ism (and of the concept of the avant garde) rather than a change to an extrinsic value system (In the context of post-modernism). The academies of art have failed to respond to the challenge of new technologies. They teach students how to push a mouse about and use “shrink wrapped” apps, which emulate traditional media, whilst simultaneously undermining attempts to develop a curriculum that can address “significant” issues and knowledge development. They are constrained by fear of the unknown and restrained by the new “rational” economics of higher education which prioritise funding for developments that earn immediate benefits (like enrolment income) rather than for “prestigious” developments like a reputable (albeit subversive) arts programme.