Skip to content

Text

For the fourth installment of Art Voices, our collaborative content project with Red Bull Arts, we’re exploring the theme of New Media. In this era of expanded media, digital worlds can be just as, or more, important than physical worlds. We are now continuously confronted with new avenues of creation and discovery through digital, social, and virtual spaces.  

The art world has a unique part in cultivating the future of new media as both a medium to be manipulated, a tool to be leveraged, and a place to create communities. We’ve distilled these ideas down into two questions that assess how a diverse, creative field think about the future of new media:

Tech innovations and advancements move increasingly fast. How do we, either as creatives or professionals, play a part in supporting new media advancements in relation to the arts?

For many artists, galleries and museums the followers digitally are exponentially higher and their identity less known than participants in the art community locally. How do we reach this new audience for culture and how do we bring them into a place of exchange?

Read on to hear from Rozsa Farkas, Eva and Franco Mattes, Aki Sasamoto, JiaJia Fei, and Kristen and Joe Cole about New Media.

Text-Image-1

Farkas

Rozsa Farkas
Rozsa Farkas is founding director and co-curator/editor of Arcadia Missa in London.
Photo by Alice Neale

I think the best thing we can do to support new media advancements in relation to the arts is to promote and educate around collecting new media. For example, with the younger artists I work with it is important that more private collectors support their video practices, they can do this by adding video to their collection and also helping with the production of new pieces - basically being a more traditional patron, working with artists through the development of the work.

mattes

Eva and Franco Mattes
Eva and Franco Mattes are an Italian artist duo based in New York.
Photo by Laurel Golio

Perhaps the best way to deal with the increasing velocity of tech and its consequences is to ignore it?

In the 90s we were obsessed with visibility, with traffic logs, with reaching an ever-expanding audience... but now we’re no longer interested in it, almost in the opposite, we’re more and more interested in invisibility. But on the other hand, we still want to engage with the internet, we don't want to go live on a deserted island...

And we noticed that once you start ignoring the numbers, the likes and shares, the "quantity", a whole new internet opens up before your eyes, much larger and unexplored.

For example, we spend a lot of time surfing anonymously on the darknet, we often microwave our hard drives to erase all their contents, and this morning we uploaded our new video on an obscure social media in Pakistan. Very few people, if any, will get to see it there, because we don’t advertise these links. But if someone reaches it, our hope is that it will feel like an achievement, that they will be more engaged than being drown in the YouTube crowd, they're aware they're part of something special, like participating in a secret rave party?

-

We involve people online in the very making of our works, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes accidentally. They're like social experiments in which the audience becomes the very subject of the work.

For example, in Emily’s Video (2012) we compiled viewers’ reactions while watching a mysterious, apparently horrible, video. The viewers represent a random selection of volunteers who replied to our online call. Participants were visited in their homes by a girl named Emily (hence the title) who would show them the video and record their reaction with a webcam. We later destroyed the original video, which had been sourced from the darknet, and created a video with the reactions edited in sequence.

They say the most valuable resource in the information era is not information, but the attention people pay to it.

Sasomoto

Aki Sasamoto
Aki Sasamoto is an installation and performance artist living and working in New York.                          
Photo by Laurel Golio

When it comes to technology, old or new, artists are constantly shifting their gaze towards a certain medium between using it correctly as a tool and using it wrongly as a material. Art happens when one surrenders to the logic of the material while simultaneously having complete control over it. When the line between building and hacking gets blurred, I know something exciting is brewing. Artists are responsible to experience this estrangement of technology and tell that story through the work. It is secondary, or rather insignificant, whether or not the work proposes technological advancement to the world.

I would like to take a moment and suspend our urge to correlate tech worlds and art minds. Sometimes it seems like technology and art reciprocate one another, but their correspondences are as off-chance as a cryptic conversation between two people at their first date. While we use whatever technology as a tool or a material, we must distance our art making from the other worlds’ chronology. To allow a space where you can learn to master something in one’s own speed and also to be light footed enough to make something seemingly inefficient, we must first free our minds from the idea of constant updates.

Artists are not responsible for progress, but for a practice of humility, especially when fast movements in technology fools us to be anxious about meanings of our inputs. When we feel like speed of the technological changes pushes us to become consumer/producer machines, slow down or break it down. We must then question; for what eyes do we regard progress happens? Artists’ ultimate goal has to be an activity of making sense of the world. Perhaps then, and only then, technology can get something out of artists’ minds.

Fei

JiaJia Fei
JiaJia Fei is a digital strategist for the art world and currently the Director of Digital at The Jewish Museum.
Photo by Laurel Golio

Too often, technology is implemented for the sake of innovation, yet completely misses the mark on how to solve the immediate problems at hand. If technology is the answer, then what was the question? My approach as a museum technologist has always been to use technology as a design solution. Although VR, AR, and blockchain might be appealing keywords of the moment, they often produce more problems than institutions can handle in the long-term. To creatives or professionals in the field, I often discourage the production of “shiny objects” unless there is a clear objective/audience, maintenance plan for future iterations, and most importantly, a budget in the pipeline for “shiny object 2.0.” This leads to larger conversations that must be had about the future who might invest in these innovations in the art world specifically, to further our continued relevance as the rest of the world advances.

For the first time in the history of art, we must now confront the notion of a “digital audience” who may view a work of art for the first time online before ever seeing it in person, or a vast majority who may only ever see it online at all. This presents a number of challenges for those inheriting the responsibility of translating experience into a digital space, and in turn, managing expectations about what that means. The first step is to accept the reality that social media is a performance of identity. Everyone is simultaneously performing on the same stage, and it’s up to the performer to tell an authentic story that can cut through the crowds to make an impact.

Cole

Kristen and Joe Cole
Kristen Cole is Forty Five Ten's President and Chief Creative Officer. Joe Cole is a Creative Director at Headington Companies, Forty Five Ten's parent company.
Photo by Casey Kelbaugh

In our role as supporters and collectors of contemporary art, we feel it is important to embrace and consider advancements in new or non-traditional media. It is less about tech, specifically, and more about appreciating the evolution of how something is created and exhibited. Professionally, with Forty Five Ten and Headington Companies, we have developed a 360 digital art platform at Hudson Yards. Titled Curyatid, this is an ongoing program where we commission digital artwork by female and gender non-conforming artists. The program debuted with work by Hayden Dunham and will next show the work of Jamilah Sabur.

While digital connects and makes the world smaller, it also creates distance by creating easy access. We would rather see access continue to get easier and be more inclusive than the alternative. Having said that, we think it is important that we find ways to engage this broader digital audience and create enough interest that pushes them to go deeper. Whether it be commerce or art, it’s important to interweave the digital and real worlds. Digital is a great way to begin the conversation, but we like to use it as a tool to suggest further engagement and continue the discussion in said place of exchange. There are also terrific ways to use digital in order to democratize for a broader audience. As long as whatever it is you are doing is worth seeing, engaging in or getting involved in, digital shouldn’t be a barrier but a hook.