The new aesthetic paradigm has ethico-political implications because to speak of creation is to speak of the responsibility of the creative instance with regard to the thing created, inflexion of the state of things, bifurcation beyond the pre-established schemas, once again taking into account the fate of alterity in its extreme modalities (Guattari 1995, 107).
The results of the 9th edition of the Sergio Motta Award show that the expression ‘art and technology’ is no longer enough to comprise the contemporary artistic production related to the fields of sciences and media. This definition, following the reorientation of the role of telecommunications and information technology in the everyday life in the mid-1990s, referred to the emergence of categories and experiences that were unknown outside specialized spaces, such as labs and advanced research centers. Concepts such as telepresence, artificial intelligence, and posthumanity were, then, added to the vocabulary of arts and human sciences, shaping what we believed to be the virtual era.
That era, if it actually existed, is now over. However, to talk about the end of the virtual era does not mean to talk about the return of the analogical world. On the contrary, it means admitting that networks have become so present in our daily lives and that the process of digitalization of culture is so comprehensive that to think about the dichotomy real/virtual has become anachronous.
The world of the Internet of Things already exists in the present; it anticipates that all objects will be connected and it places us before a new tangibility, which is sensory, tactile, concrete, but also media related; it takes place through images that are no longer clickable surfaces and have become expanded interfaces that blur the limits between what’s real and what’s virtual. In this context, devices, such as cell phones, transform us in cyborg-like creatures—hybrids of meat and connection. At the same time, objects are converted into material instances of information flows. In this world mediated by all sorts of data banks, we become a kind of platform that provides information and habits, as we form our public identities in the several types of services that relate to our consumption, leisure, and working habits. Therefore, we become informational bodies. And this tends to grow, as methods of genetic investigation and their distribution on the Internet become available. Ultimately, that’s what the Genoma Project did; it converted our understanding of the body—up until then seen as a set of meat, bones, and blood—into a map of sequenced information. This makes us think that, one day, we might suddenly bump into our genetic code in Google or hack someone’s DNA through a torrent-based sharing website. But it also makes us think that we are witnessing the redefinition of the limits between nature and culture, and new relationships between real and virtual. They have aesthetic, cognitive, and political dimensions, and their tensioning is made evident in the diversity of portfolios by the shortlisted and awarded artists at the 9th edition of Sergio Motta Award.
Here, we found a set of works that question the emerging micropolitical issues of contemporaneity, the new relationships between what’s public and what’s private, as well as the programmed obsolescence—a strong feature in Lucas Bambozzi’s, mmnehcft & MANIFESTO21.TV’s, and Claudio Bueno’s work—, and that pay attention to the “B-side” of globalization and technological advances, questioning their environmental and sociocultural impact, as well as the strategies to build collective memory—issues that are present in several works by Maurício Dias & Walter Riedweg, Pablo Lobato, and Alice Miceli. We are in face of a wide variety of creative experiences that also explore new cognitive horizons, which are presented by machinic prosthesis and investigate new forms of altering our ways of seeing, listening, and perceiving, as made evident in portfolios by Vivian Caccuri, Ricardo Carioba, and Raquel Kogan. Above all, these works lead us to think that the differences between low and high tech, old and new, tradition and rupture no longer make sense. We are experiencing a technophagic era in which old knowledge is reprocessed according to robotics; in which life, its rhythm and its time, continues without giving in to the mystifying enthrall of technological innovation, as made clear byZaven Paré’s and Jeraman’s projects.
Nearly ten years ago, as professor André Lemos says (2009, 32), we were discussing the dematerialization of culture, focusing on the upload of social practices, whereas today, we are downloading the cyberspace. This download takes place in the demand for Augmented Reality applications; in the increasingly tactile and ergonomic design of screens and devices; in science and in philosophy into which they advance, shattering the compartmentalization between natural and artificial; in new political horizons that go beyond the old real-virtual dichotomies; and, specially, in postdigital media contemporary art.
All of this makes up a field of action vectors that sees the emergence of a planetary conscience, new audiovisual formats, innovative relations of authorship, codification strategies, a “Ready Media” vocabulary, mapping of nomadic spatialities, proposals of new interaction and exploration systems of political and cognitive dimensions of bodies expanded by the man-machine interaction.
In this context, the work of art becomes device, tensioning the status quo of media, disarming it as a tool and as a theme, turning away from any relationship with fetishism, devotion, or phobia. Media and technologies, according to what one may infer from the shortlisted artists at this 9th edition, are nothing but one of the lines of force that make up the discoursive tissue of contemporaneity. And this is a lot. After all, as we have already learned from Agamben: “Contemporariness is a singular relationship with one’s own time, which adheres to it, and at the same time keeps a distance from it” (Agamben 2009, 41).
Agamben, Giorgio. 2009. What Is an Apparatus? And Other Essays. Translated by David Kishik and Stefan Pedatella. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Guattari, Félix. 1995. Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm. Translated by Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Lemos, André. 2009. “Cultura da mobilidade.” FAMECOS journal (Porto Alegre) 40 (December): 28-35.
Giselle Beiguelman is a media artist and university professor. She develops works in the field of media art creation and criticism. She was a communication and semiotics graduate professor at PUC-SP (2001-2011) and is currently a lecturer with FAU-USP. She curated Nokia Trends festival (2007 and 2008) and was the artistic director of Instituto Sergio Motta (2008-2011). Information on her artwork and critical essays are available on her website: www.desvirtual.com