Olga Gorunova , Alexei Shulgin
Media Artist and the System: New Strategies (2001)

Язык оригинала: русский

The adequate perception of “reality” (a compromised term, still a little better than “actuality” – or let it be "what is happening"), while maintaining a critical distance from it and an understanding of modernity’s principles of functioning at least in certain chosen areas – all this requires not only theoretical knowledge (such as the critical history of society, history of media technologies, etc.) but also possession of various practical skills: advanced programming, marketing, management and jurisprudence.

How is somebody without advanced technological knowledge to notice and reflect upon the danger of "user friendly" software? Nor is he/she able to trace the actions of his/hers own computer or declare personal freedom and independence with certainty .
Thus the future belongs to computer experts, either to the hirelings of Microsoft or to Linux fans. Those not burdened by this kind of knowledge will stay afloat on the surface.

Lets further explore “a person without advanced knowledge of technology” –a floating artist. The majority of media artists can’t write Java code or understand anything about microchips, whether they are produced by optical, supersonic or electronic beams lithography. They however try to seek the light which is knowledge. If this artist is not as cautious as a fox in a chicken-coop (forced by current circumstances) and doesn’t think that “if I’m not interested in politics, it won’t get interested in me” – he can easily turn into the ideal consumer.

We know that the old image of active consumer – the central subject of social life, whom the companies targeted in production as well as distribution and advertisement of their goods, a young or youngish-looking businessman, energetic, intelligent-looking – has retreated, especially in the field of information technologies.

High tech requires such a powerful and constant purchasing power as is possessed only by the eternal fire. When in 1945 during the creation of one of the claimants to the title of the first computer, ENIAC, six such machines were estimated to be enough for USA, nowadays laboratories create such powerful computers and implements as very few could consume.

That’s why an image of the new consumer has to be created, a new and attractive image.
The businessman has something in common with a factory-owner, an agent of mass production and distribution, the dominant features of industrial society. The center of postindustrial society is knowledge and information. For its stability and development such a society needs apart from the mass production and consumption difference, individuality and creativity. Constant production of ideas is the basis of regulation and development of the system. .

When previously the true member of society was the one-dimensional man , now he’s being transformed into a multi-dimensional man. Besides, the system should stay highly flexible and mobile, constantly self-rearranging.

Who according to the society’s opinion possesses a highly developed creativity? The artist. Who seeks to be on the very edge of the present, between the past and the future? The artist. Who is mobile and creatively destructive? The artist indeed. It is the artist who combining the qualities of an extreme sportsman, a mad scientist and a quiet businessman is the ideal model for the image of the new consumer.

Just as the system uses a fragment of Boticelli’s “Venus” in the screensaver while loading Adobe Illustrator to render the values harmless by making them insipid (changing the context so that while maintaining the form the content is transformed `into a completely opposite one ), so using the artist as a new consumer image, a new central figure of society structure, it empties his content, exchanging it for the one it needs in its quest for stability and safety.

Both the radical and critical artists, aggressive towards rules and regulations find their place in this system as the best engine of progress in information society: through destruction to creation of the more stable. The stable mobility is a motto for the artist, for the new consumer, for the management of new media.

If the artist possesses a burden of knowledge enabling him to go deeper into the contemporary structure, where various streams are regulated , and the surface of which we view and experience, he assumes a different role – one of the new media and high tech dealer.The best illustration of this is the current star-the Netochka Nezvanova collective.

Thus, the new relationship with the System into which the artist is embroiled offers two undercover strategies, two images: the new consumerist and high tech dealer, within the cultural industry’s tradition of creating false needs.
Resistance requires sobriety and knowledge.

J.F. Liotar. The Situation Of Postmodern.. M, St. P., 1998.
Title of G. Marcuse’s book,- 1967 г.
M. Adorno, T. Horkheimer. “The Dialectics of Enlightenment”. М., 1997.


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