The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Maria Pirkkalainen.
Where does analogue art stand in a digital world?
The distinction between digital and analogue technologies as well as the effects of the rise of Digital Data has had in both contemporary art and our society are topical and dividing subjects in the art world. This was, for example, seen at two events held in London just a few days apart this September.
The first one, a panel discussion organized by the British Library’s Digital Research team, went by the name Digital Data and Artistic Expression. The discussion focused on how Digital Data is defining the new aesthetic expression of our age and how artists and audiences could benefit from this. The latter one was London Analogue Festival, held at the Bargehouse of OXO Tower Wharf from the 12th of September to the 14th. The event was described to celebrate the beauty and aesthetics of analogue technologies in an era when digital technologies are ubiquitous.
The panel discussion held at the British Library on Wednesday the 10th of September was chaired by Professor Anthony Lilley and amongst the excellent panelists were both artists and researchers within the field: visual artist and researcher Michael Takeo Magruder, Professor Ernest Edmonds, artist Julie Freeman and Dr. Kevin Walker. One of the topics discussed was how science uses digital data, but what about contemporary artistic expression? And how could using Digital Data affect the art?
The discussion pointed out how artists integrating Digital Data into their work help translate large amounts of information into meaningful content to their audiences. An excellent example of this was Michael Takeo Magruder’s digital installation PRISM on Edward Snowden, in which he had utilised real data related to the case. The artist highlighted how, in general, the information is all there, but the context is not usually clear to the audience. The artists can help with this, and digitality can help people to see their surrounding society in a different way.
Another fitting example was artist Julie Freeman’s digital work The Lake , where the artist had tracked natural biological motion – in this case, of fish – via electronic tagging systems and transformed the data collected into a musical composition and animation. In the end the artwork became a part of the local fishermen’s community and it was used to help their daily lives of finding out where the fish were. Freeman also pointed out how Digital Data offers us new ways to make us think how society is changing.
London Analogue Festival took a different stance toward the subject. Conceived as an event to showcase analogue aesthetics and to promote analogue technology and its use in art, this multidisciplinary festival took over the Bargehouse at OXO Tower Wharf for a weekend in September, exhibiting art works and holding discussions.
The event was an interesting experience with many floors of artworks, including in its artists for example the Helsinki-based sound artist James Andean. Sponsored by the likes of Fujifilm, the festival aimed to bring out the idea of how important it is to support alternative ways of creating art. This is the case especially in a digital world, where it is necessary to hold events such as this to introduce new generations to various analogue technologies.
Although the comparison between digital and analogue technologies is evident, both of these approaches still feel necessary in today’s world. At the end of the day one question arises, however, which analogue technologies might find it more difficult to answer: is datavisualisation a new method for contemporary art aiming to bring art closer to the public? Art made with Digital Data usually demands interaction which, in a way, brings it closer to the public than the more traditional analogue technology does. But like the panel discussion at the British library pointed out, in the end, the most important thing is still creating art.
The power of photographs in constructing our society
Although we are living in a world more visual than ever before, the importance of photographs in constructing our societies already began many decades ago. The new exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, Constructing Worlds, explores architecture and its relationship with the world as well as the power of photographers through more than 250 images from 18 artists. The buildings featured in the photographs are from architects such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright and the photographs themselves span 80 decades from the 1930s to today. (http://www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=16264)
Also featured in an article on It’s Nice That, the works in the exhibition are displayed in a gallery space constructed by the Belgian architects OFFICE KGDV. The exhibition is not only impressive from its architectural point of view, but the actual gallery space has been constructed to imitate the atmosphere of the buildings photographed.
On top of this, the exhibition brings out two important questions: first of all it discusses how our cities and societies have grown and what kinds of changes have taken place in them throughout the years. And above all, the second question highlights the importance of photography in collecting evidence of our own history and how our societies have changed. Good art lasts a lifetime, and sometimes it doesn’t matter whether its in analogue or digital form.
Constructing Worlds exhibition is open at Barbican Art Gallery until the 11th of January 2015.