webart _ and _ political _ discourse .html
.CONTENTS (according to the greek version)
New Media and Technological Utopias
Heath Bunting ®ark (RTMark)
THE YES MEN
The Internet as heterotopia and the political as antagonism
The research process for the implementation of this thesis initiated by the field of the theory of new media and focused on the artistic practice which is combined with technology and public space. The result was structured in such a way as to address the question of whether the artistic practice which uses the internet as a medium, has the ability to articulate political discourse and to manage this, in terms of making the internet a public space. Firstly, approaching the theory of new media and technology to get a look at the different approaches of theoriticians on this field , then follows net.art, the first movement of web techniques and continues with the clearly political Tactical Media. In a next chapter are presented specific examples of artists from both fields, for a more practical understanding of the foregoing. In the penultimate chapter the internet is introduced as another real space and is explored the concept of the public sphere, through political theory and art theory. We can look the thesis more closely on the following. We would say that the perception of reality is now defined by the composition of the natural with the digital environment. Numerous structures and functions, at least in the Western world, depends on the technology and its continuous evolution. The place of art, dealing with perception, could not be unaffected by everyday life, which for two decades was significantly affected by the emergence and spread of the Internet. The internet, as the culmination of the digital era, became a means of artistic practice since the 1990's, but theorists in the field of new media were divided, on the one hand to those ardent supporters of a digital revolution and on the other those who exercised one analytical approach with sobriety and skepticism. The course of this research starts from this point, the not so neutral field of the theory of new media and technological reality from Marshal McLuhan to Lev Manovich, Richard Barbrook, Roy Ascott, George Gilder, and from Paul Virillio to Jean Beaudrillard. Continuing, the research focuses on the field of internet art, net.art, which followed the appearance of the world wide web and often manifested the need for alternatives in terms of apprehending and trafficking of an artwork, away from the established mechanisms of the dominant art market. Here we find one of the first attempts also critical to corporate aesthetics and commodification of information through the example of a pioneer of net.art, the Serbian Vuk Cosic. This will give us the opportunity to look
inside the special field of artistic-‐activist practice, that of the Tactical Media, closely associated with web art. The theoretical basis relied on by the Tactical Media, is placed on the theory of the French philosopher Michel de Certeau about the practices of everyday life that are transformed into political tactics. With Heath Bunting, ® ark (RTMark) and Yes Men we gather practices that combine net.art with Tactical Media and are developing as a criticism of neoliberal hegemony. In the last chapter, the web space is suggested as another real space, through the concept of other spaces/heterotopias of Michelle Foucault. Is it possible to support such a position and if so, what does it serve? Dilemma arises as to whether the heterotopia of the Internet will serve as a place illusive which intensifies the illusion of the actual space or would be able to make another real public space, that its political status could potentially arise from proper artistic practice. We will focus on considerations of theoriticians such as Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Julian Stallabrass, Rosalyn Deutsche and Oliver Marchart, who develop the theory of the political as antagonism and politics as hegemony, and we shall understand that public space is not enough to be determined by its physical or institutional existence to perform its essential function.
.Conclusion We saw Gilder and Ascott agreeing with McLuhan's optimism and add, the former the opinion that possession of information means power and sovereignty and the latter the view that techno-‐cultural achievements are able in expanding significantly the human perception (cyberception). We agree in part with these positions but we further find more critical ones, such as those of Barbrook and Baudrillard. In fact, in the reality of hyperconsumption in capitalism, the glorification of technological achievements keeps open the path of sustained growth of the multitude of consumer goods and maintains the myth of its system’s success, disorienting attention from the fundamental daily needs. The digital utopia is presented as adequate to support the replacement of the real. The Internet is the main tool to turn in that direction. But here we propose to take into account the notion of Foucault's heterotopia and recognize the internet as the heterotopia of contemporary society that allows us to arrive at further conclusions in this regard. The demonization of the internet shows naive when, instead of producing an even more illusory public space which enhances the illusory aspect of reality, it can produce another real public space, agreeing to the elements which characterize heterotopias in Foucault . We usually use the notion of the public abusively, without reaching the essence of it. The public as such, stops at the point where an hegemony imposes its sovereignty and prevents challenging and disagreement within the prescribed limits of its own. The views of Deutsche and Marchart enlighten us on this point, which shows that a public space in order to perform its essential function, is not enough to be physically or institutionaly defined, but needs conflict and antagonism, through which is identified as such. Considering the post-‐marxist theory of Laclau and Mouffe, relied also on the Lacanian subject of the unconscious, which is divided and castrated after entering the language, we understand the concept of the political in the holder of hegemony and antagonism. This is what gives us the tools to look once again at the role it can play in redefining artistic practice and the political in art. Since the advent of Internet art in the 1990's the political dimension of the Internet has emerged against attempts by the private corporate aesthetics, which have since
been relentlessly trying to commodify information and to tame its free flow. We looked for ways in which the Internet operates in practice as a public space, especially with the effort of presenting Tactical Media and the groups that operate within them. These artists are at the same time questioning both the boundaries of art and art itself. We find here tactics that challenge the image of normalcy that neoliberalism promotes and also manage to confront the corporate absurdity. These tactics use existing hierarchical structures of neoliberalism and move flexibly in the field predetermined from the'' enemy'', just as it is described by Certaeu. After that, we are able to recognize the existence of political art today, or rather the political in contemporary art practice. Those views talking about a near-‐death of political discourse in art since the institutional critique of the conceptual artists, as also an accompaning technological stupor too, prove rather unrealistic. The internet and new media in general, with a suitable treatment based on critical thinking and political thought, proves that allows the articulation of political discourse. Furthermore we can now move away from the illusion that wants every artistic practice that uses the internet or new media in general to be characterized as radical. Can one say, that any kind of artistic practice that uses the internet is also placed in the field of the public sphere? An affirmative answer is proved to be unrealistic. Nowadays, the concept of a radical artistic leadership may have been disappeared, especially on the part of the artists themselves, but this does not automatically imply the same for their political discourse and particularly the ability to contribute to the formation of new political subjectivities in the area of sovereign neoliberal hegemony.