Re:place conference 2007
Review of Panel 5: Place Studies: Media Art Histories
Moderated by Andreas Broeckmann
Daniel Palmer (AU) - Media Art and Its Critics in the Australian Context
Ryszard W. Kluszcynski (PL) - From Media Art to Techno Culture. Reflections on the transformation of the Avant-Gardes (The Polish Case)
Caroline Seck Langill (CAN) - Corridors of Practice I: Technology and Performance Art on the
Machiko Kusahara (JP) - A turning point in Japanese Avant-Garde Art: 1964-1970
Re:place conference’s Panel 5 Place Studies: Media Art Histories traced some of the media art histories that can be told in a local context, raising the complex issue of how national and local processes relate to broader national and international media art contexts. As media art’s global networks have had an acute impact on the development of local artistic and critical practices, it is important to analyze their complex interaction and influences in order to understand the different ways in which media art develops.
The first paper to be presented, Daniel Palmer’s Media Art and Its Critics in the Australian Context, focused on critical reception and coverage of media art in
Palmer also highlighted the important role that video played in the development of media art in
In the following presentation, Ryszard W. Kluszcynski drew examples from the post-war Polish media art scene to illustrate the process of transformation of media art avant-gardes from the perspective of media studies, to a perspective closer to cultural studies. Referring in detail to the development of the artistic practices of The Workshop of the Film Form (1970-’77) and The Central Office of Technical Culture (CUKT, 1995) as case studies, Kluszcynski noted that, despite the differences, there is a continuum between both collective’s practices; the Workshop’s anticipating the culture analysis, and its conceptual and analytical approach preparing the CUKT project’s tactics. While the whole picture of post-war Polish avant-garde media scene is way more complex, Kluszcynski chose to focus only on these two examples, in order to better illustrate his points. Through the juxtaposition of these two different artistic practices, one can clearly see the shift of media art from self analysis to an analysis of the social environment, from showing interest in the technological basis of art to focusing on the technological foundations of culture. Unfortunately, and given the limited time frame of 20 minutes, there was no insight on how the political and historical context affected the avant-garde, an aspect that would be very interesting to explore.
Caroline Seck Langill traced the history of electronic media art practices that developed at various centres in US and Canada, along the axis of the North American Pacific Coast, choosing not to explore these developments from the scope of locality, but by tracking a ‘corridor of practice’ instead.
Starting with the Vancouver Art Gallery’s 1969 Intermedia exhibition, the collective’s first group show, Langill focused on US American and Canadian artists that were active on the North American Pacific Coast in the 1970s and early 1980s, working in similar, performative modes with electronic media. Communication of ideas and practices was frequent by those artists who found themselves on the north side of the Canada/United States border in the late ‘60s, and occurred mainly in the frame of pedagogical institutions, where artists were both teaching and learning, but also by Americans migrating to
Using examples from the Japanese art scene such as GUTAI artist Atsuko Tanaka’s or Akira Kanayama’s works, Kusahara illustrated that although it was common for avant-garde artistic practices in Japan to use (media) technology, once western gaze became dominant in the art scene they either stopped, either gradually turned to representational/painting practices. Kusahara points out 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympic Games, as a turning point for the vitality of the avant-garde scene. Around the same time, the announcement of the Osaka EXPO ‘70 triggered a great discourse among artists and architects experimenting with media technologies, on whether to accept the EXPO’s invitation to design major pavilions or not. Since the political and commercial motives behind the EXPO ‘70 were harshly criticised (the EXPO was considered to be drawing public attention away from the renewal of US-Japan Security Treaty, also taking place in 1970) some artists rejected the invitation and joined either Fluxus in New York or the anti-EXPO movement, while others responded to the festival’s call. Due to the successful results of the collaboration system between artists and the industry that was introduced then, this model has dominated ever since, influencing the development of media art itself. Kusahara traces the emergence of characteristic elements of Japanese media art, such as playfulness, positive attitude towards technology, and friendly relationship to the industry, in the period from 1964 and 1970, and argues that this period represents a shift of the avant-garde movement from radicalism to pragmatism.