Tag Archives: performance

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R. Weigel, M., Clinton, K., and Robison, A.J. (2009). _Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century_. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

In this white paper, Jenkins and collaborators argue for participatory culture as a tool against youth apathy (Buckingham, 2000) and the digital divide. Per Livingstone and Bober (2005), the digital divide isn’t about access, but speed, site, quality, support — the extent to which the Net is engaging and rich. Per Wartella, O’Keefe and Scantlin (2000), we should emphasize technologies less, and skills and content access more to undermine the current class distinction.

The authors see three challenges, thus reasons, for policy and education interventions:

  1. the participation gap: it’s not just about access to the technologies, it’s about the human capital necessary to effectively articulate their capabilities
  2. the transparency problem: the world is layered with layers of media — critical reflection is necessary for youth to see through and to media’s often warped messaging
  3. the ethics challenge: without training, young people are hindered from assuming public roles in community engagement and media production

As remedy, book advocates for an ecological approach to media technologies and communities, and for youth media education that develops skills, knowledge, moral frameworks, and self-confidence. Defined, “participatory culture” has (1) relatively low limits to creative expression and civic engagement, (2) a strong creative and sharing support, (3) informal mentoring of the uninitiated, (4) participants who believe their input matters, and (5) that they share social connections with others. Participatory culture education shifts literacy emphasis from the individual and to the collective. They are also interested in the terms affiliations, expressions, collaborative problem solving, and circulations.

Per Jenkins et al., we need new media education, the literacies of which, “a set of cultural competencies and social skills that young people need in the new media landscape” (xiii). These skills build on and complement the traditional literacy, critical thinking, and technical training already learned in the classroom.

These new media literacies are:

  • play: experimenting offers a new way into problem solving
  • performance: assuming other identities fosters improvisation and learning
  • simulation: evaluating and reconstructing real-world operations
  • appropriation: making something one’s own through remixing and reinterpretation
  • multitasking: zeroing in on primary concerns
  • distributed cognition: interacting with tools so as to augment current cognitive capabilities
  • collective intelligence: pooling and sharing knowledge for common purpose
  • judgment: assessing and determining information sources for their merit
  • transmedia navigation: following information across various modalities
  • networking: searching, synthesizing, and sharing intelligence
  • negotiation: traveling through various communities, respecting their viewpoints, and comprehending other norms

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Paul, C. (2007). The Myth of Immateriality: Presenting and Preserving New Media. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

New media art has increased and improved the conventions and possibilities for exchange, collaboration, and presentation. While many call it “immaterial,” it isn’t necessarily so. Yes, algorithms constitute, but hardware contains those algorithms. New media art encompasses several aspects: process, time (sometimes real-time), dynamism, participation, collaboration, performance. In addition, it is “modular, variable, generative, and customizable” (253).

Those are good things. Here are some challenges (that make as much sense in planning terms as they do in Paul’s museum-specific context). New media art takes time, so visitors rarely see the full work and rarely come in at the beginning, so the narrative, assuming there is one, is non-linear. In addition, museum struggle with new media art’s prescribed interactivity.

To make it work, artists, curators, and audiences share deep involvement from the project’s initiation. The artist (planner) becomes the curator, establishing parameters, a creative context, for audience agency and sometimes “public curation.” New media art can be in the gallery, locative, online, and “has the potential to broaden our understanding of artistic practice” (272).

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Poissant, L. (2007). The Passage from Material to Interface. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Louise Poissant, PhD, philosophy, is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Université du Québec à Montreal. She has led the Groupe de recherche en arts médiatiques since 1989 and the Centre interuniversitaire en arts médiatiques since 2001. She researches art and biotechnologies, as well as how new technologies are used in performing arts.

“Now the renewal of art forms has materialized through a series of iconoclastic gestures, which as introduced new materials that were first borrowed from the industrial world or from everyday life and progressively from the domain of communications and technology” (229).

This search for new materials and immateriality, to Poissant, has led artists to reorganize into the following three camps. From the emergence of new materials we observe: (1)  artists committed to sharing their view of the world and related emotions, (2) those who perceive a diverse range of roles and choose from among them, and (3) those who reorganize their practice to advance the role of the spectator to status of co-creator in interactive works.

Language and speech are performances, actions. Per Ludwig Wittgenstein’s (1953) language-games, to speak extends beyond self expression, it is to act. François Armengaud’s (1985), three notions of language pragmatics occur in art: (1) the act, where speaking goes beyond representation to trans- and inter-acting; (2) the context, which can further shape the discussion; and (3) the performance, which, once completed, verifies abilities.

There are six conductor interface categories in media arts; each one contributes to the conversion of viewer into participant. They have five functions, “alternatively extendible, revealing, rehabilitating, filtering, or the agent of synthetic integration” (240). Sensors receive and perceive data for the spectator-artwork interactivity. Recorders use binary data and allow for manipulations, sampling, etc. “Recording becomes a transferable memory, an extension of a faculty” (237). Actuators are robotics that give installations some capacity to interact autonomously with their environments. Transmitters close space and obviate time in telematic arts, such that the artworks themselves are located elsewhere. Diffusers are the projection devices from all eras (“magic lantern to interactive high-definition television” [239]). Finally, integrators, “automaton to cyborg” (239), simulate the living.

Poissant concludes that interactive programs unable to do what they can/ought must announce their shortcomings to the user at the fore. For planning, this responsibility to the user is well-taken.

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Broeckmann, A. (2007). Image, Process, Performance, Machine: Aspects of an Aesthetics of the Machine. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

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.

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Helguera, P. (2011). _Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook_. New York: Jorge Pinto Books.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist who works with installation, sculpture, photography, drawing, and socially engaged art and performance. In addition to his artistic practice, he has worked as an education curator in contemporary art museums. From 1998-2005, he was the head of public programs at the Guggenheim. Since 2007, he has been MoMA’s director of adult and academic programs. He’s written several books, ranging from novels, to curatorial stories, to essays on memory, and so on. His most recent product is based on his “knowledge, experience, and conclusions derived from specific applications of various interactive formats, from discursive and pedagogical methods to real-life situations” (x).

The goal, which I believe he achieves handily, is to give insight into how to use art in the social realm, while placing it within a larger discussion about the debates, both theoretical and application-based. His main point is that the tools of education share parallels with art — they rely on collaborative dynamics, experimentation, and the development of materials. However, what educators understands better than many artists is their “socially engaged art [SEA] can’t be produced inside a knowledge vacuum” (xiii).

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