Author:Axelle Van Wynsberghe (Joint Research Center, European Commission)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the founding myths of a community of artists who work with digital technologies, and whose practice revives utopian ideals of the early web, analyzing how they reconcile contradictions between visible/opaque, emancipation/capture, and enchantment/disenchantment.
Paper long abstract:
Since the advent of the internet, a community of artists have engaged with emerging digital technologies in a field of practices that have been indicated with overlapping denominations such as net.art, net art, media art, new media art, internet art, post-internet art, screen-based art, digital art, and born-digital art. These artists' experimentations with the vernacular web will showcase how politics and aesthetics are ever-more interlinked since the computational revolution. Case studies of artists Hito Steyerl, Olia Lialina, Constant Dullaart, Harm van den Dorpel, and Katja Novitskova will be used to delineate the mythos of born-digital art in relation to the development of the Internet. These artists' work allows an urgent look into the increasing configuration of user culture online, the standardization of the web and its platforms, the instrumentalization of social quantification to manipulate and control public opinion, and the 'capture' of user participation. Taking the art institution LIMA as the central node of my fieldwork, this ethnography will showcase how born-digital art emerged in response to three founding myths: the internet as 'pure possibility', which in and of itself held emancipatory potential, and was lost when the internet 'died' in the year 2000. This paper outlines how the born-digital art community attempts to find resolution between the visible/opaque, emancipation/capture, and enchantment/disenchantment through these founding myths. This research will serve to illuminate the role of myth in artistic production, and shed light on how anthropology might foster alternative methods for analyzing contemporary discourses on technological development.
Negotiating imaginaries: explorations of vernacular audiovisual production