Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock

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Alterazioni Video, The New Circus Event, 2019. Venezia, VAC Foundation. Image courtesy Valentina Campari

The full version of my long essay (or short book) “Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock” is now available on NERO, in a beautifully designed webpage. You can read it online or download it as a 40 pages, ready to print pdf. Enjoy!

Abstract:

This text is an attempt to understand if, and how, art can exist in the present time. We know we are living an age that is profoundly different from that in which contemporary art was born: an age of acceleration, present shock, distracted gaze and end of the future. And yet, when it comes to art, we still confront it as if nothing had actually changed: as if it were the sacred result of moments of deep focus and concentration; as if it could still be experienced without distraction; as if it were the expression of a constant fight against the old, and of an endless rush towards the new; as if it could speak a universal language, and last forever. But it doesn’t.

Rather than providing answers, this text raises questions such as: is it still possible to make art under these conditions, and to experience art as it should? What’s the price we have to pay for engaging today’s media and the crucial issues of our time, in terms of duration and long term appreciation?

Although these considerations apply to all contemporary art, I use contemporary media art as the main area of reference, as I think most of the problems I’m outlining are more visible there, and more radically affecting the art that uses the tools and addresses the key issues of the post digital age. The essay addresses sub-topics such as primary and mediated experience, the end of the future, Futurism vs Presentism, art’s relation with art market dynamics and technological hypes, art’s incorporation in the art system and in mainstream culture, obsolescence and media art preservation, the difficult relationship between artistic practices and media hypes (with a focus on Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence).

Media, New Media, Postmedia disponibile anche come ebook

Book, Texts

A dieci anni esatti dalla sua prima edizione, Media, New Media, Postmedia, la versione italiana di Beyond New Media Art, è ora disponibile anche come ebook alla metà del prezzo della versione cartacea. Il libro italiano, pubblicato nel 2010 da Postmedia Books, è stato oggetto di una riedizione nel 2018. Ora potete leggerlo anche in digitale, in formato Kindle e epub.

“Nel corso degli ultimi decenni, un complesso corpo di lavori è andato sviluppandosi all’intersezione tra arte, scienza e tecnologia. Negli anni Novanta, con la crescente accessibilità delle nuove tecnologie e lo sviluppo della cultura digitale, questa ricerca è esplosa, conquistando una massa critica di artisti e dando vita a festival, centri d’arte specializzati e a un’intensa attività editoriale e pubblicistica. Nasce la New Media Art. Ma nonostante questa espansione, la New Media Art non è stata in grado di conquistare il mondo dell’arte contemporanea. A che cosa si deve tale scollamento di tradizioni? Perché la critica d’arte ufficiale stenta a integrare la New Media Art nella sua lettura del contemporaneo? Perché il mercato dell’arte fatica ad accogliere software, computer e rete come mezzi artistici? Perché molti artisti rifuggono l’etichetta di New Media Art mentre altri vi si rifugiano, esaltando la sua distanza dall’arte contemporanea? Media, New Media, Postmedia è il primo saggio che tenta di dare, a queste domande, una risposta organica: ripercorrendo le ragioni storiche dell’isolamento della New Media Art, e spiegando perché oggi, in un’era ormai pienamente postdigitale e postmediale, questo isolamento non abbia più senso di esistere.”

La commedia delle immagini: Maurizio Cattelan

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Flash Art Italia commissioned me a piece about Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian. The article is now available on the printed magazine (Issue 348, March – April 2020) and on the web magazine. On this occasion, the website revived an older piece I wrote in 2012 about Cattelan’s work, titled “When an Image Becomes a Work. Premesse a un’iconografia di Cattelan” and focused on his relationship with vernacular images, internet memes and popular re-use of his own imagery. Both pieces are in Italian, but the older one is still available in English on Poool.info. Enjoy!

Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock

Texts

Soon available as part of the Macro Asilo Diario series, Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock is an excerpt from a longer, unpublished essay born out of a conference I had in Rome in March 2019, wondering if, and how, art can exist in the present time. The longer version includes chapters about net.art’s futurism, post internet’s presentism, precorporation, media obsolescence, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. If you want to read the draft or suggest a publisher, please drop me a line. This shorter version suffers a bit in the last part, but it features one of my favorite chapters, about the end of the future. Hoping it could be a good companion in these days of anxiety and loneliness, I shared it on Academia. Enjoy!

“We know we are living an age that is profoundly different from that in which contemporary art was born: an age of acceleration, present shock, distracted gaze and end of the future. And yet, when it comes to art, we still confront it as if nothing had actually changed.
Rather than providing answers, this essay raises questions such as: is it still possible to make art under these conditions, and to experience art as it should? What’s the price we have to pay for engaging today’s media and the crucial issues of our time, in terms of duration and long term appreciation?”

Reality is Overrated. When Media Go Beyond Simulation

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I’m happy to announce that an old – but hopefully still fresh – text of mine has been re-published in the amazing Flatland Reader, a publication from O Fluxo presenting “a collection of art and essays that analyzes today’s post-digital conditions for critical media and artistic practice — the act of blurring the boundaries between the physical and the digital by staking out new paths for understanding and working in the transversal territories bounded by theory, internet, and art.”

The Flatland Reader is available in print on demand on Blurb. “Reality is Overrated. When Media Go Beyond Simulation” can still be read online on Artpulse‘s website, where it was originally published; but I strongly suggest to buy the reader for the great graphic design and the amazing company. The list of participants includes Aaron Graham, Anne de Vries, Brad Troemel, Christopher LG Hill, Constant Dullaart, Couple (Adam Cruces & Louisa Gagliardi), Domenico Quaranta, Ed Fornieles, Harm van den Dorpel, Jon Rafman, Keith J. Varadi, Rafaël Rozendaal, Antoine Donzeaud, Bora Akinciturk, Hotel Art (Loney Abrams & Johnny Stanish), Ilya Smirnov, Jack Self, Jakub Choma, Konstanet (Keiu Krikmann & Epp Olekõrs), Matthew Raviotta, Michael Assiff, Natalya Serkova, New Scenario (Paul Barsch & Tilman Hornig), Nuno Patrício, PANE Project (Lucia Leuci), Ricardo Martins, Something Must Break (Monia Ben Hamouda & Michele Gabriele), Sydney (Conor O’Shea), Timur Si-Qin, The Swan Station (Luca Pozzi), 63rd-77th STEPS (Fabio Santacroce), Vaida Stepanovaite and Zoë De Luca.