What art makes today goes beyond object, affections and ideas, and beyond the discourse and circulation of the so-called ‘art world.’ Artists today are nomadic, globally visible beings, living and communicating within networked social structures and operating contingently with material and worldly ecologies. Especially as science and technology expand the artistic toolbox with skills in crafting with code and digital material, the artist is cast as a figure of extended agency—as (co)-producer, creator, craftsperson, social or collective facilitator, investigator, advocate, scientist, and ‘world-maker.’
Art’s new making has launched both excitement and concern with what art ‘makes’ when involved with making the new. Critical accounts on art’s expanded field of making stress the art as an operative program entangled with precarious dynamics of digital industrialization. The growing interest in art’s making from industries offering residencies, technology, and resources for art’s production simultaneously invites artistic creativity to feed dominant narratives of who we are, what we do, how we live, and what we aspire towards.
Art’s new making concerns what is realized and aided by art’s invention, but also the invention of new roles for art. Some artists today seize the moment to finally impact the world with art, as the pragmatists, the constructivists, the concretists, the futurists, and the system aestheticians among others dreamed about. Invited to enter spaces, labs, and environments of real-world cycles of production, they see the invitation from the world beyond art as an opening to enter the inner production room, write the blueprint, engineer the black box. While the artistic genius becomes an inventor it seems too easy to cast artistic invention as a force of innovation. But then what is at stake, for art and for us, in art’s new making?
With a point of departure in the book Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art we explore the questions: What drives artistic pursuits of inventing today? What, if anything, is new about art’s making? How might we—in perspective of the arts—grasp the dynamics between invention and innovation? How can we account for art’s ecologies when making the ‘new’? What might the pursuit of art’s new making promise, demonstrate, and feed forward?
Saara Ekström on Beacon and ‘new’ ways of making art
Read the discussion paper Art’s New Making in SCB Journal.
Image: Saara Ekström, Beacon, 2019; director and cinematography: Saara Ekström; editing assistant: Eero Tammi; 8mm film converted to 2K digital format; expanded cinema event