"Prehystories of New Media" class at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Fall 2008 + 2009, instructor: Nina Wenhart

“Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power. For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.”
Paul Valéry, Pièces sur L’Art, 1931
Le Conquete de l’ubiquite

>> students' research papers, Fall 2008

class .04

"the brain is a meat machine" - reflection on lutz dammbeck's "the net"

my analysis is based on a deconstruction of the documentary in three main parts:

what are the different kinds of net in "the net"?

kaczynski's self-image:

- rambo-topos
---- a lonesome warrior in the woods fighting the whole world
---- comes in multiple episodes
---- the standard plot of an american action movie
---- the seer, the only one that sees clearly --> cassandra-myth
---- the savior
---- conflict between state and individual, both radically interpreted
---- trained by the state, state created expert, is abandoned, then individual turns on the state

- thoreau + counterculture topoi
---- K. as a radical, but also archetypical character of these times
---- in reflection: being the fly caught in the (inter)net as an icon

the film, dammbeck's approach, the structure:

- art documentary, subjective paths, dammbeck spinning his own net/web with this docu
- kaczynski as a starting point
- k's starting point as the artist lutz dammbeck's starting point
---- thriving from one association to the next
---- scribble as an indication for this --> storyboard for the film, dammbeck+film travel from one hint to the next
- modular montage as well as remix of old visuals with audio for his present as further indicators
- a puzzle, that in the end leaves the author puzzled as well as the audience
- kaczynski as a layer, but not the topic; as a parenthesis for reflection on technotopias (positive and negative) and their various aspects and histories and deliberately blanked out spots as well as forgotten connections; the unspeakable, what are the last taboos left today?
- dammbeck not supporting kaczynski, but trying to understand
---- critique of his film --> compare to hannah arendt's reportage for the newyorker of the eichmann trial in jerusalem --> “the banality of evil” --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eichmann_in_Jerusalem
- navigation through film like navigating through hyperlinks --> vannevar bush
- net = web = spiderweb, who is the spider, who is trapped

the net of histories:

- of technological developments and their connections, especially:
---- of how they create and structure society
---------- state: superpowers; stronger, better, faster; predominance and superiority, creating fear
---------- from k.'s view: the oppressive perspectives, suffering from fear
---- of how they could as well -''- different societies
---------- counterculture: liberating effects

- of social experiments:
---- state, state institutions intruding into people's minds; domination
---- search for private alternatives to modern society; liberation
---- on the individual basis of k.: of how the state which he later on fights against creates his state of paranoia, his conflicts, uses him as a test rabbit

- of personal connections:
- success-stories: the people who are interviewed, that can be seen
- being in- or outside of the net = society:
---- self-chosen, voluntarily
---------- liberating --> in --> see success-stories
---------- necessary escape --> out
---- pushed out of society:
---------- ascribed/created/real mental illness
- net vs individual
- inner logics of systems (individual people, communities, state, machines) and closed systems

read chapter 4 of Gene Youngblood's "Expanded Cinema":

No comments:

>> recommended books

  • Richard Barbrook - Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village
  • Fred Turner - From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism
  • Howard Rheingold, Tools for Thought, MIT Press, 2000 or online: http://rheingold.com/texts/tft/index.html
  • Oliver Grau - MediaArtHistories
  • Oliver Grau - Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion
  • Neil Spiller, Cyber Reader: Critical Writings for the Digital Era. Phaidon Press, 2002
  • Stephen Wilson - Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology: Intersections of Art, Science and Technology
  • Gene Youngblood - Expanded Cinema
  • Ruth Leavitt - Artist and Computer
  • Jasia Reichardt - The Computer in Art
  • Jasia Reichardt - Robots. Fact, Fiction and Prediction
  • Herbert Franke - Computer Graphics, Computer Art
  • Frieder Nake - Ästhetik als Informationsverarbeitung: Grundlagen und Anwendungen der Informatik im Bereich ästhetischer Produktion und Kritik (Hardcover)
  • Norbert Wiener - Cybernetics
  • Claus Pias - Cybernetics - Kybernetik 2. The Macy-Conferences 1946-1953
  • Jasia Reichardt, Cybernetic serendipity: The computer and the arts, 1968
  • Catherine Morris, 9 Evenings Reconsidered, 2007
  • John Cage, Variations VII by John Cage: E.A.T. - 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering (1966) - DVD
  • Robert Rauschenberg: E.A.T. and ARTPIX: Open Score by Robert Rauschenberg (1966) - DVD
  • Noah Wardrip-Fruin - From Wagner to Multimedia
  • Erik Davis - TechGnosis: Myth, Magic + Mysticism in the Age of Information
  • Wendy Hui Kyong Chun - New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader
  • R.L.Rutsky - High Techné: Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman
  • Lev Manovich - The Language of New Media
  • Lev Manovich - Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database
  • Siegfried Zielinski - Variantology. On Deep Time. Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies: On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies
  • Siegfried Zielinski - Deep Time of New Media
  • Timothy Druckrey - Facing the Future. 20 years of Ars Electronica


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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.