Abstract: In the field of artistic production made with technology, it seems increasingly difficult to establish valid criteria for analysis of the works than the degree of technological innovation. In contrast, the Flusser’s concepts of technical apparatus and player allow us to understand the artist as a programmer of abstract machines, which operates in the field of aesthetic issues of political, ethical and epistemological processes of technological mediation.
On the horizon of ubiquitous computing and network culture, the borders that separate the fields of art and technology are increasingly blurred. Many artists have technology background while the culture of free software and hardware offer tools that allow other artists without technology training to specialize themselves in programming and development of technical devices. On the other hand, many artworks that circulate in the media art festivals are created by interdisciplinary teams and in cooperation with technology companies. As a consequence of the increasing overlap between the fields of art and technology, methods, theories and models of thought used in the design of media turn out to be automatically incorporated to the art and media theory field. However, it is not a process without consequences.
This new context puts tension to some of the most important conceptual foundations of media art criticism. Most of these procedures seems incompatible with the subversive attitude of artists and theorists until the 1990s engaged in the critique of industrial standardization and mass entertainment. Faced with this apparent paradox talking about a media art artist would mean different things, sometimes even antagonistic. In this context, how to analyze the media art production today? Should the analyses be guided by the critical position about media devices or by the technological quantum of each artwork? Were the artist and media designer statutes merged? These questions allow to investigate the compatibility between models of knowledge production in the technology and art field.
In the media theory field, this problem becomes evident when the concepts from the technological area are brought into the criticism field. In most of the cases this rises more doubts than actually helps in the understanding of expressive practices, using the concepts out of context and creating effects without a cause (Plaza, 2000). To Siegfried Zielinski(2001), one must bear in mind that the media theory is located in the space “between” different knowledge fields, so such theory might build conceptual interfaces between science, technology and human areas. Zielinski postulates that philosophy place the same questions of science, but they are different ways for approaching and that, therefore, each of these ways ultimately lead to different conclusions.
If in fact you can not understand the natural sciences as the media science, it is also not possible to understand the media technology as media art. Although the designer and the artist are involved in a similar context and use the same basic techniques, but each one raises different questions, a fact that will lead to fundamentally different results. The Flusser’s concepts of the technical apparatus allows to address these issues in a privileged point of view. As a consequence the technology is dislocated from the instrument spot that takes place in the functionalist perspective of media design to become a way of formalizing a particular world view, according to the intentions of each artist. From this perspective, it is possible to delimit the art and media engineering as two distinct fields, of which fundamentally different problems emerge. More than the well works of a media device, the artist seeks to operate certain vectors of political, ethical, economic, epistemological coded in abstract layers of technical mediation apparatus.
Thus, it is possible to consider the hypothesis such a shift in the status of the artist in comparison to his previous condition. Instead of reaffirmirming or denying the discourses operated by contemporary media devices, he seeks a dialogical approach towards them. Due to this concept the media artist turns into the one who best receives the statute formulated by Flusser as “homo ludens”, an existential condition in which the man takes the dialogue with each other and with their cultural context as a game, in this case, a game of technological mediation.
FLUSSER, Vilém. “O universo das imagens tecnicas: elogio da superficialidade”. São Paulo: Annablume, 2008.
________. “O mundo codificado: por uma filosofia do design e da comunicação”. São Paulo: Cosacnaify, 2007.
________. “Nascimento de imagem nova”. (unpublished, available at _Vilém _Flusser_Archiv, hosted at Universität der Künste Berlin)
PLAZA, Julio. “Arte e Interatividade: autor-obra-recepção”. Journal of Postgraduate Program, Art Institute, Unicamp, 2000.
Zielinski, Siegfried. “On the Difficulty to Think Twofold in One.” In: Hans Diebner, Timothy Druckrey and Peter Weibel (Editors). Sciences of the Interface. Genista. 2001.