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Machines

Conversations on Art and Technology
2012
pp. 126, cm. 21
Author: Maurizio Bolognini
Language: English
Publisher: Postmedia Books

ISBN: 9788874900749


excerpt





preface

My machines do not know whether they want to be considered art. All they know is that they want to function without interruption, and they are not bothered about where this happens. Usually they produce tangles of lines that can stream out mile upon mile before your eyes. 
They get along with your phone and with e-democracy, which they use to hook up with the public, but they cannot stand hi-tech. What they have in common with new media art is the fact that we are part of an epoch-making technological upheaval whose implications need to be understood. However, they have nothing to do either with digital activism or with technological experimentation as an end in itself. 
They also have little to do with virtuality. The flow of images they have been generating without interruption for twenty years is non-material but real, and it has an existence independent of the observer. They are self-operating devices, machines programmed to operate at a minimum, in an abstract, empty way, reduced to the essence. 
Arguably this makes them similar to conceptual research, although even this definition may seem inadequate, since here the medium and the theoretical object of the research are the same thing – and this opens up a new situation. 
The book brings together some conversations about art and the new technologies, conducted between 2004 and 2011. Some are published here for the first time, others have already been published, though not in English. 
In the main section there are conversations with curators and art historians (such as Simonetta Lux, Domenico Scudero, Terri C. Smith and Sandra Solimano) about my work as an artist, and also included are extracts from critical essays and documentation relative to some of my installations. 
Another section of the book is comprised of some conversations that are not about my work, but which offer a broader perspective on the relationship between art and technology; involved in these other conversations are several leading players in the fields of research and experimentation, namely, Roy Ascott, Mario Costa, Eduardo Kac, Richard Stallman and Gerfried Stocker. 
My special thanks go out to all. 

MB 
October 2011


back cover

The book brings together some conversations about art and the new technologies, conducted by Maurizio Bolognini between 2004 and 2011. In the main these are conversations with curators and art historians (including Simonetta Lux, Domenico Scudero, Terri C. Smith and Sandra Solimano) about Bolognini’s artistic work. These conversations bring out an interesting and unusual angle of vision on neo-technological art, which the author describes as a vast and heterogeneous area of research, part of which appears to be closer to the art system and to conceptual art. By continually referring to his own work Bolognini is able to look at this area of artistic research, as it were, from the inside, and to offer a view of it which is both concrete and extremely engrossing.
Another section of the book includes some conversations which offer a broader perspective on the relationship between art and technology. Involved in these conversations are several leading players in the fields of art research, art theory, and technological activism, including Roy Ascott, Mario Costa, Eduardo Kac, Richard Stallman and Gerfried Stocker.


 

"I find it interesting that Sol LeWitt, to express the notion that in conceptual art the idea is more important than the work, and that the execution becomes secondary, has used the phrase: 'The idea becomes a machine that makes art'. Clearly, when LeWitt used the metaphor of the machine in 1967, he had in mind a machine that carries out specific predictable tasks mechanically, not a machine which, like my installations, can make decisions and operate autonomously. Perhaps one might say that, with the new technologies, the idea has partly moved into the machine. For this reason conceptual art, as a self-reflective process about art, can find delegating to the machine, and the growing distance between the artist and his work, an interesting subject of research..."   (Ch. 1. Conversation with Terri C. Smith, 2011)

"The conclusion I came to about this was that in these series my work is the machine, programmed and running, and then, if it is not 'sealed', in other words if it can be hooked up to a monitor or a projector, the operation can be carried out by anyone (a curator, a collector, etc.) and according to any criterion. Once programmed, the machine is self-sufficient and how it is used is no longer any of my business."   Ch. 10 - Digital works, immateriality and preservation. Conversation with Cristina Pontisso, 2010

 


"Computer-based technologies make available something which moves in the direction of transcending the artist, creating a discrepancy and a disproportion between the artist and his/her work. This is what suggested the idea of referring neo-technological art to the aesthetics of the sublime, which, in the 18th century, was linked to the grandeur of natural phenomena. [...] When I program my machines to produce a continuous stream of random images, and then I leave them running indefinitely, the work becomes something which is as much on the side of the artist as on another side, that is, under and beyond my control. [...] In this way the game becomes more complicated but more interesting. It can take place on different levels, including the challenge of art as the territory reserved for the subject [...]. In the activation of technological processes that are deliberately void of artistic intentionality (like the flow of random images produced by a machine), there is still a dimension that goes beyond mere sensoriality; here, artistic content does not consist in producing images as such, but in creating the conditions for a controlled experience of sublimity by means of this production."   Ch. 3 - Infoinstallations. Conversation with Domenico Scudero, 2004

"First of all, we need to consider different areas within neo-technological art, and the definitions in use – which generally only make reference to the technology employed: net art, software art, robotic art, etc. – do not contribute to clarity. It is necessary to emphasize that neo-technological artists do not belong to a single homogeneous research area, but they move on to territory which is centered upon three different elements: the art system, scientific and industrial research, and media activism..."  Ch. 2 - Postdigital. Conversation with Simonetta Lux, 2007


 


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