Kamis, 05 Juni 2008


By : Bambang Sugiharto

The history of art, especially as it appears in the West, has been characterised by the persistent tendency to question the long tradition of painting as the privileged medium of representation. The struggle with the canvas found its decisive turning point in Duchamp’s works (ranging from ready made objects,mixed media,installation to film). Ever since Duchamp, no longer under gravitational pull of the canvas, artist was free to express any idea through whatever means possible. While the buzzword of today is “ the death of the subject/author”, in the world of art, ironically, art becomes more and more sheer personal statement.

The Shift of Focus
The shift of focus from ‘objective’ representation to personal expression and ideas/concepts, as well as the manner and the means in which the expression is conveyed, have led to such a proliferation of materials and forms. And this eventually leads to the questioning of the very nature of ‘Art’ itself. Anything can be called ‘art’, somehow that Arthur Danto once declared “the end of art”, as we have known it. Whereas the usage of any technological media to render meaning and new ideas has made the critic Gene Youngblood call all art today as ‘experimental’. “All art is experimental, or it isn’t art”, he said.
Facing so many forms of art especially those coming from the alliance between art and technology, we cannot but realize that the common “isms” associated with the art such as Cubism,Surrealism,Conceptualism,etc. have run their course. When Walter Benjamin talked about the lost of “aura” in the technology of reproduction, today digital technology has made the artist able to introduce new forms of “production” not “reproduction”. While Baudrillard talks about ‘simulation’, Virilio says, more acurately, that we are entering a world with two realities, the actual and the virtual, and there is no ‘simulation’ but ‘substitution’. Any notion related to representation of the real seems to be obsolete today. In art, visual literacy is no longer limited to ‘the object’, it now embraces the fluid, ever-changing universe, an interactive world that can be interdependent in its incorporation of ‘the viewer’ into the completion of the work of art.

The Fluid Reality
It is this the same fluid reality which is also captured and played upon in one of the new media arts called ‘Video Art’. It is video’s capacity for instantaneous transmission of image that is most appealing to artist, in addition to its relative affordability. Different from film, Video records and reveals instant time, whereas film has to be treated and processed. Film is contemplative and ‘distanced’; it detaches viewer from present reality. Furthermore, multiple projection devices make possible for the video artists to represent the often chaotic and random feel of multiple images competing constantly for our attention, just like fluid reality. Video also gives more sense of intimacy usually not realizable in film. As in the works of Acconci and Nauman, video becomes an extension of the creative process and the artistic gesture so long associated with Abstarct Expressionists physical act of painting. Video also gives more space for the intentionality of the artist. The work is not a product for sale or mass consumtion. At issue here is precisely the intentionality of the artist. The iconoclastic minimalist intention of Nam June Paik in his work Zen for Film, for instance, where he projected clear film leader inside a television set, sought to question the common associations viewers bring to the watching of a film, stripping film to its barest essential (the film stock itself).
Other pervasive form of expression of art today working with real time is the so called ‘Performance Art’. This is the fruit of the cross fertilization between theater,dance,film,video and visual art. Although it is usually related to Dada and Fluxus the phenomenon is in fact nourished by much more complex movements of art in the late twentieth century in many parts of the world. Its multimedia character, including the use of video camera, has made possible for the artist to reveal the nature of ‘process’ in art, that is, art as ‘activity’ and ‘experience’ in real time usually missing in painting. Besides, it makes possible to venture into uncharted waters of the conventional art : the body as the source and specific language, the possibility of mixing sound, movement, image etc to make a complex statement, the lost of words and emotional deprivation, the close connection between everyday objects and events and art,etc.etc.
Technology is indeed changing rapidly, and with it the artist’s field and language are expanding. When in the twentieth century we saw the merging of art and the everyday, perhaps in the twenty-first centrury we would witness further the merging of the real and the virtual. After all, what artists do has always been challenging or altering our way of looking at things and our mode of experiencing the world, including the technological world. It is the nature of art as personal statement that makes possible for us to see or experience things differently and find again and again the ‘other side’ of reality; be it reality of history of art, the politics of the day, or the politics of the self; no matter West or East. This ‘otherness’ is something we can always expect from any kind of works of art.
* the article was written for Bandung Video,Film and New Media Art Forum (bavf-NAF 1) August 2002.

Tidak ada komentar: