Accepted paper:

When (digital) art came back to be material


Debora Lanzeni (RMIT)
Vanina Yael Hofman (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

Paper short abstract:

New Materialism become a theoretical ‘belief’ in the interrelated field of art, design and technology from which to reveal elements that have neglected by art theory since the Digital Revolution. However, its analytical implications seem to be signed by the need to develop adequate methodologies.

Paper long abstract:

Material-centered approaches appeared to be a new welcomed perspective in Art History and Theory in that they allow the visibilization of elements that have been overlooked or neglected in previous historical narratives and aesthetics studies. New materialism together with STS and perspectives like the object-oriented-ontology configure sources of inspiration and pillars on which to build other stories by re-introducing a place for "objects" and "materials" that were lost after the nighties "digital revolution". Digital art inherit from previous artistic movements and embodied in their discourses ideas on dematerialization. But after the burst of obsolescence, ones and zeros ceased to be immaterial arithmetic and 'objects', 'materials' and very quality of 'materiality' were put on the table for discussion among artists, curators, archivists, theorists and art historians. The above-mentioned theoretical sources were exceptionally helpful in the process of "re-materialization" of digital arts and the following discussions it brought to light. Nonetheless, there is a gap between the theoretical use of the ontological turn in digital arts studies and the development of methodologies and methods capable of provide tools to approach the fieldwork accordingly. New Materialism approaches in arts field depart from a 'need', but become -generally- new kind of theoretical belief. In our paper we want to discuss some cases that show this multiple tensions in the interrelated field of art, design and technology. Doing so we'll also explore -the other way around- how classical anthropological understandings of 'objects' could help to enhance the articulation of new materialistic approaches with research on foreknown field.

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Anthropology, the arts, and new materialisms