The Exhibition "Media Ontology, Mapping of Social and Art History of Novi Sad", medien.KUNSTLABOR, Graz
The exhibition is open from: 09.09 - 05.10, 2006, medien.KUNSTLABOR, Lendkai 1
Exhibition setup that New Media Center_kuda.org will realize in medien.KUNSTLABOR represents a dialogue between conceptual art practice from the 1960s and 1970s and contemporary new media art practice. One segment will be represented by wallpapers printed with documentation of artworks from 1960s and 1970s and other part belonged to the new media practice from the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century.
Production of the exhibition:
New Media Center_kuda.org www.kuda.org
Previous exhibitions "Media Ontology":
21.05. – 31.06. 2005 in Württembergischer Stuttgart as part of On Difference #1 exhibition
31.05. - 21.06. 2006 in Artpoint Gallery, KulturKontakt, Vienna
Experience of conceptual art from the 1960s and 1970s and the concept of dematerialization
In the second half of the 1960s youth movements and radical artistic and social practice from Yugoslavia provoked a dominant discourse of a moderate modernism at that time. One of the most radical demands for the democratization of culture came from the artistic and cultural circles in Novi Sad. They were focused around few magazines, Fields (Polja) in Serbo-Croatian, New Symposium (Új Symposion) in Hungarian, student's magazine INDEX, film company Neoplanta and particularly around the cultural centre - Youth Tribune.
Significant protagonists of the artistic scene at that time were members of the KôD group (Slavko Bogdanović, Slobodan Tišma, Mirko Radojičić, Miroslav
Mandiċ and partly Janez Kocijančić, Peđa Vranešević, Branko Andrić, Kiš-Jovak
Ferenc), the group (E (Čedomir Drča, Vladimir Kopicl, Ana Raković and partly
Miša Živanović), and group (E - KôD (Čedomir Drča, Vladimir Kopicl, Mirko Radojičić, Ana Raković and partly Slobodan Tišma and Peđa Vranešević). Those groups worked in the sphere of linguistics, performances, process art and conceptual art with strong emphasis on intertextuality and interdisciplinary work. They were all deeply influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Marshall Macluhan, Stéphane Mallarmé, Guy Debord, Duchamp, Malevich, OHO, Art & Language, Joseph Kosuth, Dejan and Bogdanka Poznanović. Crucial for this scene was its relation to film production house “Neoplanta” based in Novi Sad, which was, on this exhibition, symbolically represented through a film “Early works”(1) by Želimir Žilnik.
The critique of Yugoslav society from these groups at that time came from a non-dogmatic radical left position (during this time there was a wide range of anarchic-liberal, Marxist, situationists, Trotskyst and Maoist ideas) that imperilled the exclusive right of the state to practice Marxist and left ideologies. The state reaction corresponded with the victory of party hard-liners (between 1972 and 1974). Until that time, culture, media, and even politics and economy had been relatively liberated areas of culture.
To the majority of these artists, the product itself, the artefact, was not of crucial importance, which was common ground for conceptual art regarding the project of dematerialization of art works. What was important were the processes, ideas, experiences, the social, political, ethical and aesthetical positions of creation as such, which corresponded to the investigations and experiences of the so-called new artistic practice of the 1960s and 1970s, that is, conceptual art, performance, mail art, visual poetry, analysis of the art market, social engagement, feminism.
New Media Art and the Critique of the Industry of Ideas
Combining two artistic practices, New Media Center_kuda.org wanted to re-establish a practice that determined the end of the 1960s and 1970s in Novi Sad bridging it with some contemporary art practices that are closely related to local and global socio-political developments.
In the post-industrial information economy, ideas became commodifiable objects that constitute today’s capitalistic exchange. Some critics like Howard Slater also emphasize that conceptual art in the worst instances functioned "as the vanguard of a capitalism that was slowly getting to grips with monetizing ideas" (2).
In the contemporary society ICT (that is, Information and communication technologies, ICT) is the very foundation of contemporary information capitalism, which, according to Hardt and Negri, is based on biopower. It is the convergence of social and economic relations, where social relations turn into economic relations and economic relations into social ones. Capitalist production is identified with the body, with the society, with life, and becomes affective economy in which communication generates value (and surplus of value!), on account of which its role becomes crucial.
In their book Empire (3), Negri and Hardt stated that in the 'disciplinary society' (to which the conceptual artists still belonged), economic labour was occupied with the mass production of commodities in discrete and specialised spaces such as factories, and in which the accumulation and realisation of capital required the outside, now the capitalist economy has lost its outside, turned inward and began a 'real subsumption' of the social bios itself.
The works that were presented as contemporary art production in virtual kuda.org neighbourhood are works made from 1997. until 2004. In that sense, association Apsolutno, in their (unofficially) first net.art work in Serbia, The Absolute Sale from 1997, is dealing with the concept of monetizing humans as production labs for ideas, where new eastern European idea-art market or bio-power are sold. In Eastwood’s project Civilization IV the concept of post-industrial “new economy” came to an end, where one plays the game as CEO of IT company using creativity, open source principle and the industry of ideas to compete on the market. In Vladan Joler’s project MCTE, a modification of SIMS game, where all functions are disabled and when one can’t move further through the game, there is an inherent crisis of interactivity - a critique of necessity for interaction and communication, which is imperative for new media art.
To conclude, net.art and new media artists operate in changed socio-economical environment and therefore some of them in their work shifted their focus from the critique of dematerialization of art, towards the critique of the world of ideas that became new expanded frontier for capital, according to Josephine Berry(4). But on the other hand, if the main power of information capitalism is biopower and network society, that means that in this sense there is also vast potential for change and certainly for new artistic practice.
(1) Želimir Žilnik was awarded the 'Golden Bear' at the 1969 Berlin Film Festival. The success of this film and some other films by Dušan Makavejev and Karpo Aćimović Godina that belonged to so-called ‘’black wave’’ was of crucial importance for young Novi Sad art scene in the beginning of the 1970s.
(2) Slater Howard, The Spoiled Ideals of Lost Situations - Some Notes on Political Conceptual Art, 2000.
(3) Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire, Harvard University Press, 2000
(4) Josephine Berry, The re-dematerialization of the Object and the Artist in Biopower,
amsterdam.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/ nettime-bold-0102/msg00059.html , 2001