Andreas Broeckmann is the Artistic Director of transmediale–festival for art and digital culture berlin. He studied art history, sociology, and media studies, and in his university courses, curatorial projects, and lectures, he discusses media art, digital culture, and an aesthetics of the machinic.
Broeckmann introduces these aesthetic categories of image, execution, performance, process, and machinic to show that digital art isn’t its own thing, not another aesthetic category, but situated within art history and practice. A digital art interface is unique in that it reminds us continuously of its constitution–it is ephemeral, barely material.
Our “digital culture [is] a social environment, field of action and interaction, in which meanings, pleasures, and desires and increasingly dependent on their construction or transmission and thus on their translation by digital devices. The necessary technical abstraction that the contents have to go through is becoming a cultural condition, which has effects far beyond the actual mechanism of extrapolated signal switching” (194).
In the image category, we understand media art gives us broader parameters than strictly visual. Now we have opportunities to examine images’ temporal structures, not just the narratives but the actual programmatic infrastructures, as well.
In execution, we see that computer software is a cultural artifact. Cultural theorist Michael Fuller distinguishes among types of “software art”: “critical software” refers to existing software programs, “social software” to social dimensions, and “speculative software” to the boundaries, to what can be considered software. Execution projects examine the change, the process. Those images with spatiotemporal bases require “processional approach[es], Bertrauchtung as an act of realization, of execution, which is itself the very moment of the aesthetic experience” (199).
With performance, the “domain of ‘live art’ . . . . the non-participatory live presentation of body movements, images, and sounds” (199), we see the witness the outcome of an execution. Situationism, Fluxus, intermedia and later computers all evoke performance through the use of scripts.
Process differs from performance in that it’s “the notion of process-based yet not fully programmed sequences of events that build on one another in a non-teleological manner” (201). “Processuality in art is closely tied to the existence of communication tools” (201) and “the aesthetics of process-based art crucially implies this context–it cannot be other than relational” (202, emphasis mine).
Finally, the machinic category refers to how this art is produced, through any assemblages of apparatuses, be they mechanical or biological. Here the art’s existence is contingent upon mechanical forces outside of human control and beyond our subjective determination.