[iDC] Why the artist? Sorry to be aphoristic

Patrick Lichty voyd at voyd.com
Sat Nov 17 20:58:07 UTC 2007

---- Simon Biggs <s.biggs at eca.ac.uk> wrote:
> All excellent points. However, the key issue remains mediality. Euripides
> remains interpretable today because the 'code' it is written in (whether the
> original or a translation) is open to humans to read. In the case of digital
> media (which is only one type of media that a media artist might choose to
> work with) the code is written to be read by a machine. It is the case that
> machines and their codes become obsolete and stuff becomes irretrievable.
> I agree that for many artists this is not a problem. They choose to use
> ephemeral media because they do not want the work to last. One of my
> favourite works (which I liked so much I bought) was a small sculpture made
> from a bird's nest and a broken egg. 25 years ago it was lovely. 10 years
> ago it didn't exist anymore. It simply disintegrated. That was the artist's
> intent. No technology involved, just natural materials.
> This example evidences that the issues involved here are not unique to media
> art, but I would still argue that the technological dependencies that
> underpin most media art do render it a special case in respect of
> conservation and preservation. Whether the artist wants the work to be
> preserved or not isn't really the point. Why should the artist be the one to
> decide whether something should be preserved or not?
> Regards
> Simon
> On 16/11/07 21:56, "Adrianne Wortzel" <sphinx at camouflagetown.tv> wrote:
> > 
> > What about Euripides?
> > 
> > Written on papyrus in an extinct language 25 centuries ago, the plays
> > have been preserved as texts and continue in performances  without
> > Euripides lifting a finger.  They are also reiterated, repurposed,
> > reinterpreted and even re-made   (see "The (Re)making Project -
> > Charles Mee at http://www.charlesmee.org/html/about.html.
> > 
> > Are our technologies harder to decipher/decode than an archaic
> > language? Are we imprisoning our works when we make them in
> > technologies -- even code?
> > 
> > An aspect of mischief in my own work as an artist in is to embrace
> > the physical obsolescence of works by embedding their content in the
> > context of archaeological digs and lost civilizations. A case in
> > point are "The Electronic Chronicles."-- stories of a future
> > archaeological dig which excavates our own culture as if it was the
> > past . Created in 1994, with overzealous use of newly available html
> > magicJ ( alignment and tables) and written on a yellow pad on the
> > subway, it is now inaccessible on a CD of "pioneer web works"
> > accompanying The New Media Reader which demands System 9.  Update it?
> > No. It is, in itself now an archaeological artifact. (Its also still
> > visible on line).
> > 
> > I know these things are painful for archivists and artists to
> > contemplate , but isn't it also emphatically charming and Sisyphean
> > to have our work "frozen" in time?. We tend to experience both the
> > newness and obsolesce of technologies as ascendant through time, and
> > indicating revoluiton, but what is really changing?
> > 
> > Speaking of shelf life as one of stasis; this is signage from the
> > American Museum of Natural History, which, aside from terrifying
> > kids,  lauds the process of decay as life enabling.
> > 
> > "A square foot of dirt in a forest holds four times as many dead
> > insects and animals as how many humans there are on all of the earth.
> > If the pile just grew and grew the forest wouldn't get any light and
> > air and everything would die. This is called the Cycle of Nutrition
> > and Decay."
> > 
> > When work is buried by its form in new technologies, its wonderful
> > that there are those who would put their ear to the ground to hear
> > its heart beating there and resurrect it, but considering the span of
> > our lifetimes and those of our literal or philosophical heirs,  what
> > kind of time are we talking about?  Years, Decades, Millennia?
> Simon Biggs
> simon at littlepig.org.uk
> http://www.littlepig.org.uk/
> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
> Research Professor in Art, Edinburgh College of Art
> s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
> http://www.eca.ac.uk/
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