Along this research path I examine how art exists with temporalities that we live with and develop through, and especially how digital culture and technological objects and milieus affect those temporalities.
As art employs the technologies of our times, it behaves and operates as much as it expresses or presents (Paul 2008); art becomes something that does, rather than something that is (Toft 2016). A growing discourse in art today embraces its temporal, active, and productive, qualities. This discourse leans on a modernist avant-garde perspective on art’s reason of existence to stimulate cultural habit as difference rather than repetition and incorporating something new (Blanchot, Ravaisson, Proust) – casting art as potentially transformative (Tygstrup 2016). But it also announces a current critical moment: The temporal liberation of art involves an expansion of art from object to forum, and a transfer of art’s ‘transformative qualities’ to environments of innovation and anticipation of the future, for better or for worse.
The attention to art as potentially ‘transforming a commons’ grew with the 1990s relational art practices of socially engaged art (dialogical, community-based, participatory, or collaborative art). These art forms typically addressed pressing social issues by mobilizing, giving voice to, and establishing temporary communities around the art as experience (Bourriaud 1998, Bishop 2006, Larsen 2006, Bolt 2011). The trajectory of the social-oriented discourse in art reflects a tendency to think of art’s forums in terms of social clusters underpinned by an understanding of ‘intersubjectivity’ as a matter of relations between subjects and their context. This understanding, however, reflects a world before we became digitally networked – with each other, but also with object-milieu relations in which we are culturally inscribed and that we collectively co-produce.
This project approaches the quality of transformation in art in relation to the commons differently because it understands the mechanisms of the commons today to be different. I explore a different understanding of how the ‘we’ is constituted. While before digital networking the ‘we’ could mostly form through geographical or context-specific groups, clubs and local communities, today infrastructures of social commons evolve through hybrid relations of time. Configurations of the ‘we’ are changing because temporal conditions of what and how we experience are changing. How we navigate and behave collectively (or, connectively) is entangled with temporal behaviors of ‘objects’ that are generated through connected systems for data processing. What we might understand as intersubjectivity is shadowed by interobjectivity – the inter-operation of censors, interfaces, algorithms, databases, and networks (Hui 2016, Hansen 2015). In our technologically developed milieus today, subject-context and object-milieu relations are thus contingent and co-evolve through intratemporal existence. The project examines art’s role in intratemporal conditions of experience, becoming, and cultural evolution. A more conventional phenomenological approach to art would focus on themes, concepts, or idealities of what audiences are intended to experience, but such an approach neglects the very premises of existence of ‘time-based’ art today, which exists through intratemporal commons by means of (technological) temporal infrastructures – both hardwired, softwired, and imaginary.
With a focus on art’s transformative qualities through intratemporal relations, the project problematizes art’s forums as simultaneously milieus of invention (Stiegler 1994). I question a fast-growing discourse in art and technology where the art is treated, funded, and appropriated as a catalyst for change. For example, when artists are invited into residencies, technology and science labs of corporate technology companies, or when art is granted support by European or other funding schemes to act as a catalyst for industrial innovation and urban development (or even human rights). In Denmark, government initiatives generously support innovation funding especially to cultivate VR as an artistic medium based on cultural-economic imperatives (Jochum 2019). These initiatives reveal how art is implicated with our adaptation to changing configurations and ideas of reality with technological innovation. Hence art’s temporal existence today is not uncomplicated. Art participates in transforming our experiences of shared realities, commons, interests, and urgencies by co-producing structures and tools through which we exist and evolve intratemporally.
In challenging art’s intratemporal qualities of transformation, with this research project I ask: What temporal mechanisms connect art with changing forms of communality? What characterizes intratemporal experiences of the ‘now’? How might art’s participation in the sense of ‘now’ affect shared, cultural connections to the past, and projections of the future? And, with what technogenetic effects, in terms of how we co-evolve with technology?
Hosted by the Center for Art as Forum, Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen
Integrated with the Center for Art as Forum the project examines intratemporal conditions for experience as a premise for art’s existence as and constitution of a forum. It explores how social commons around art, which once depended on direct time as a medium, take form today through indirect and hybrid relations – with subjects as well as digital-temporal objects.
The research follows a two-year research fellowship at School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong (2018-2020) on temporal experience, memory, and technogenesis in expanded reality, realized with the Carlsberg Foundation’s Internationalization Fellowship. Art of Our Times evolves my research from individual-subjective to connective, intratemporal experience in technologically developed milieus, which I critically examine through the ‘forums of art’ and as a condition for cultural transformation.
VIDEO: Kunsttid (Art Time), (talk in Danish, starts at 19:22 min), Art as Forum opening conference, Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen, August 28, 2020
REFLECTION TEXT: Art Time (Of the Audience), in Brečević, Geska and Wik, Annika, 2020. Levande Bilder – Levande Stad. 1st ed. Stockholm: Film Capital Stockholm. ISBN: 978-91-519-
TALK: Art of Our Times: Art Machines, presented at Art Machines Conference, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong, January 2019.
KEYNOTE: Curatorial Inquiry in Times of Cognitive Crisis, presented at the Ph.D. Summer Camp – Artistic Production and Curating in The Age of Technogenesis, hosted by CATCH in Elsinore and within the framework of Media Art Histories Re:Sound 2019.
PH.D. DISSERTATION: Images Of Urgency: A Curatorial Inquiry With Contemporary Urban Media Art, 2017, Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen.
Image: Lundahl & Seitl, Unknown Cloud On Its Way To… (2016)