The Artist as Sen­sory Ma­chine in the Post Re­al­ity


Session Title:

  • Interart / Intersensorium. On the Interrelation of Media and the Senses

Presentation Title:

  • The Artist as Sen­sory Ma­chine in the Post Re­al­ity




  • Panel:  Interart / Intersensorium. On the Interrelation of Media and the Senses

    In what I have come to refer to as the post re­al­ity, we have be­come a so­ci­ety of “su­per-par­tic­i­pants” – ap­pro­pri­at­ing, am­pli­fy­ing and redi­rect­ing in­for­ma­tion via the so­cial media. In the post re­al­ity, the su­per-par­tic­i­pant feeds on user feed­back, in which every­thing they do, think, and say is cap­tured and processed and remixed and re-broad­cast – their every sen­sory im­pulse is con­nected and re-con­nected to the un­blink­ing eye of the elec­tronic media.  As a re­sult, I have con­cluded it is im­per­a­tive in the cur­rent epoch that the artist must now find new tech­niques and method­olo­gies to more fully em­brace mul­ti­me­dia and its per­va­sive­ness or else be­come in­ef­fec­tual as an artist.

    This ne­ces­sity is akin to László Mo­holy-Nagy’s ur­gent view of the gesamtkunst­werk in the early 20th cen­tury when he de­clared: “What we need is not the gesamtkunst­werk along­side and sep­a­rate from which life flows by, but a syn­the­sis of all the vital im­pulses spon­ta­neously form­ing it­self into the all em­brac­ing gesamtwerk (life) which abol­ishes all iso­la­tion, in which all in­di­vid­ual ac­com­plish­ments pro­ceed from a bi­o­log­i­cal ne­ces­sity and cul­mi­nate in a uni­ver­sal ne­ces­sity.” There is now the ne­ces­sity for a cur­rent day gesamtkunst­werk, or gesamt­daten­werk as Roy As­cott has called it, in which the artist moves be­yond ab­strac­tion, be­yond rep­re­sen­ta­tion, be­yond the sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief: the artist be­comes, in ef­fect, fully en­gaged as a sen­sory ma­chine. To demon­strate this idea and its im­pli­ca­tion, I will or­ga­nize and pre­sent a multi-sen­sory read­ing – a rhyth­mi­cal, vi­sual, tex­tual, ges­tural read­ing – that re­flects on cur­rent artis­tic thought con­cern­ing the artist’s role (and re­spon­si­bil­ity) in re­spond­ing to and com­ment­ing on the trans­for­ma­tive ef­fects of the post real con­di­tion.