Art’s conceptual expansion beyond object and form to becoming experience, sphere, and environment, nurtured by the growing interest in affective experience, has launched both excitement and concern with digitally afforded experience. With immersive art environments, artists explore what it feels like to be present in our contemporary world of particular temporal-sensorial conditions, and artistic concern with representation, with what is represented to us, seems to transfer to a concern with how we are present and what conditions our sense of presence today. Human sensing takes center stage as a both ontological and epistemological premise for art, recasting ideas of materiality, subjectivity, and ecologies related to art while implicated with fast-paced cultural evolution.
The celebration of ‘presence’ that seems to have liberated ‘art’s experience’ from the emphasis on meaning construction and interpretation and instrumentalization of the program and discourse of art in the hermeneutic grip is nonetheless met with skeptical accounts of art’s new alliances with the ‘memory industries’ – as evolving contingently with immersive technology that offers experiences of virtual, augmented, mixed, and other realities. Critics question speculative takes on (and, tendentially, industrial application of) art’s immersive experience when it offers ‘alternative scenarios’ mediated in various modes of ‘sensorial experience.’ They question what kinds of anticipation such experiences might stir, what future grasps of reality they may support, and with what durational and technogenetic effects.
This topic departs in the questions: What drives and conditions artistic pursuit of sense environments today? What (if anything) is ‘new’ about art’s environments and the digitally afforded experiences they offer, and how do they implicate cultural, ecological, and technogenetic perspectives? Eventually – what might the imaginary pursuit of the ‘new’ in art’s environments eventually promise, demonstrate, and feed forward? And how might art’s ‘new’ environments re-route art’s histories?
Exile and Other Syndromes (2019)
by Budhaditya Chattopadhyay
Chattopahdyay on Exile and Other Syndromes (2019) as a new art environment
Representation, complexity and control
Modern sonic art is heavily influenced by digital technology, and we have seen major changes in composition, construction, performance and mediation of audio art since the digital watershed started in the mid-1990s. One can arguably say that sonic art depends on digital technology. When attempting to understand these changes, one must consider the materiality of the works, the tools used to create them, the technological affordances that make their creation possible, and the changes in the social contexts that facilitate public acceptance and reception. Technology is a social construct, not only a tool, but also an attitude, an adeptness and a craft for making meaning for artists and art users alike. The deep inclusion of digital technologies in nearly all aspects of modern western society has changed our self-understanding and behavior in everyday and art contexts, and a rich undergrowth of alternative distribution outside of the conventional hierarchies of good taste has developed over the last 25 years or so. The talk will attempt to describe some of the nuts and bolts of the digital technology that is at the base of this development, revolving around the keywords representation, complexity, control, new material, large and small data conversion, soundscape and ecological perspectives, and conceptualism.
An Aesthetics after Conceptualism
Ulla Angkjær Jørgensen
In her own wording, Norwegian sound artist Jana Winderen is describing the material body in a surrounding environment when she says that, “The sensory impression of sound is very physical. Depending on the materials around you, you can feel it in your bones, or as a sensation in your nostrils, or vibrating under your feet.” The combination of augmented reality and strangeness in her digital soundscape The Wanderer (2015) does precisely that, it moves you into sensing your presence in a specific environment in ways you couldn’t possibly have known before, yet it is a nowhere. It does not lean on the gallery to prove it is art; it can just as well be listened to anywhere you go with your iPod. Its place is the sensing body. Works like The Wanderer may help us formulate an aesthetics after conceptualism.
Post-immersion: Towards a discursive situation in sound and media art
Immersion is a much-used word in the domain of sound and media art. It is through immersion that the audiences are often made to engage with the media artworks, especially those involving multi-channel sound, and spatial practices. In these sound-works, immersion operates as a context for realizing the production of presence as an illusion of non-mediation (Reiter, Grimshaw et al). The main concern of this paper, and the corresponding exhibition and performance, is whether the audience tends to become a passive and non-acting guest within the immersive space often constructed by an authoritarian and technocratic consumer-corporate culture. I will argue in the paper that in this mode of non-activity the audience may lose the motivation to question the content and context of the work by falling into a sensual and indulgent mode of experience, therefore rendering the consumerist-corporate powers to take over the free will of the audience (Lukas et al). From the position of a sound/media artist-activist myself, in this paper I will argue for producing a discursive environment rather than an immersive one. I will examine the possibility to create sound artworks where the individuality of the audience is carefully considered and taken into account as a parameter for a fruitful dissemination of the work. I will discuss a number of recent works as well as conduct a self-reflective analysis of the exhibition to develop and substantiate my argument.
Image: Lundahl & Seitl, Unknown Cloud on its way to… (2019), Struer, Struer Tracks. Courtesy of the artists.