Beyond New Media Art

Text by 撰文 x Li Bowen 李博文


Like other books of similar titles – and the overwhelming abundance of publications as such in recent years is already a very telling fact – Domenico Quaranta attempts in the Beyond New Media Art  to define New Media Art in a clear, honest and innovative fashion, against similar and related terms such as Digital Art (it “narrows the field to digital media”, and “shifts the focus unduly “low”, namely towards any kind of creative use of digital media”), Media Art (it “extends the reach to all media: press, radio, fax…and also computers, software, the web and video games,” and along with New Media Art it is “saved from these base associations by their “high” origins.”), Electronic Art, Computer Art, Cyberart, et cetera; and to place this notion next to the notion of Contemporary Art here, indeed to give birth to two separate, independent but correlated realms that struggle and negotiate with each other, one in the movement of becoming, or migrating into another. Interesting to the author is “the assertion that New Media Art and the culture of new media are an integral part of the story of new media, and that they can (or rather must) continue to exist as a sector, distinct from contemporary art in virtue of the fact that they genuinely do differ from it.”

如同其他有著類似標題的著作一樣——而近年來此類著作的大量面世暗示了這一年輕藝術門類迫切需要準確定義的尷尬狀況——策展人、藝術評論家多明尼克·加蘭塔(Domenico Quaranta)在《超越新媒體藝術》一書中嘗試以一種清晰、誠懇而新穎的方式定義新媒體藝術(New Media Art)。他區分了許多類似而相關的詞匯:“數字藝術”(Digital Art,這詞匯“將討論領域局限在數字媒體中”,並將“關注點聚焦於過分低級的層面,即所有創造性地使用數字媒體的實踐”);“媒體藝術”(Media Art,這種藝術“涵蓋了所有媒體門類:印刷品藝術、收音機藝術、傳真藝術…以及電腦藝術、軟件藝術、網絡藝術及電子遊戲藝術等,” 也與新媒體藝術一樣,“因其“高貴”出身而不落於窠臼”);以及“電子藝術”、“電腦藝術”、“虛擬藝術”等等。加蘭塔將新媒體藝術與當代藝術兩者相比較進行討論,以建立關於兩個分離、獨立的世界的敘事。在此敘事中,新媒體世界與當代藝術世界互相抗爭、協調,新媒體世界也在此過程中向當代藝術世界進行轉變或遷徙。對於作者來說,有趣的是這樣一種認知:“人們認為新媒體藝術及新媒體文化是新媒體敘事的組成部分,也能夠(或必須)作為這種組成部分繼續發展,與當代藝術區分開來,因為這藝術文化的確是與當代藝術不同的。”

This book was first written in Italian as the author’s thesis in 2008 and 2009, and later published in English only in 2013, with somehow understandably no substantial revisions but few updates and addition of appendixes as the author admits. Reviewing an old book, however, seems to be even stranger an idea. Before the publication of the book in its full-length, made available were a number of reviews of the abstract of the English version, and with hindsight the early history of the publication – including the reviews – is just amusing. The title of the book changed from the even more confusing Media, New Media, Postmedia; to the author of this review, the dichotomy of New Media World versus Contemporary Art World that was the ongoing, troubling “war” could be hardly found today (but of course one reads towards the end of the book “The Postmedia Perspective”, ). For anyone who might be basically familiar with the general structure of art schools in China today, it is recognised that in the new media art program taught and learned is first and foremost how to make animations. More or less, it means, in the Chinese context, the revival of Chinese animation, and the competition with Japanese animes or Hollywood animals. But this is neither here or there, unless we, for reasons that are merely strategic, place provisionally this fact as an instance in relation to Quaranta’s idea of New Media Art as an independent world, as a thing that does not belong properly, or a priori, to the art world: “…above all we need to set aside the Duchampian concept of art as being something that happens in the art world.” It is not happening in the world of the contemporary art; it has “its own tradition, its institutions, its jargon, its idea of art…” Placed resolutely next to the contemporary art world is the world known as the New Media Art World, “a multidisciplinary, varied set of practices evolved into a niche and then established itself as an entirely autonomous “art world””; but the relationship between the two worlds is far from static, for between the two worlds are migrations, resistances and wars.

本書的意大利語原版完成於2008至2009年間,後在2013年譯為英文版發行。盡管本書的觀察對象在幾年內發生了迅速的變化,作者並沒有在英文版中進行大量改動,而只是少量更新了著作主體並添加了一些附錄內容。而為一本內容相對過時的著作進行介紹似乎也是一件奇怪的事情。早在英文版全書發行之前加蘭塔便已發布《超越新媒體藝術》的摘要,而這簡短的摘要在當時引起了許多評論家的興趣,催生了許多前瞻性的書評。現在看來,包括這些評論在內的出版物早期歷史也是非常有趣的。著作題目從更為讓人困擾的《媒體,新媒體,後媒體(Media, New Media, Postmedia)》改成了《超越新媒體藝術》;而對於我來說,作者提出的新媒體世界—當代藝術世界對立狀況已不復存在(但當然,加蘭塔在著作最後一章“後媒體視野”中討論了這件事)。舉例來說,熟悉中國藝術學院結構的人們清楚:新媒體藝術專業常進行動畫制作課程,畢業的學生們也常以動畫為媒介進行藝術創作。而這在中國語境中意味著中國動畫創作的復興,與日本動畫或好萊塢動畫們的競爭。這一事實策略性地為新媒體世界的獨立性提供了反例。對於加蘭塔來說,重要的是新媒體藝術世界並不是從來就是當代藝術世界的一部分:“最重要的是,我們需要放下那種杜尚式的理念,即所有藝術都是發生於藝術世界之中的。” 新媒體藝術並不是發生於當代藝術世界之中的,新媒體有“自己的傳統、系統、專業術語、藝術理念…”被絕決地放在當代藝術世界之外的一個被稱作新媒體藝術的世界,“一個跨學科的、豐富的實踐體系,開辟了一片天地,進而成為了一個完全自主獨立的“藝術世界””;但這兩個世界的關係絕不是靜態的,而是充斥著交流、遷徙、抵抗以及戰爭。

Very valuable is the author’s history of New Media Art from the 60s to the 90s that goes on for about thirty and change pages. Ambitious of course, as this lengthy narration is practically the mapping out of the territory of the World created a moment ago. The author concedes however, in order to focus on the New Media Art world’s social history, this history overlooks the aesthetic and cultural aspects of it. Following this chapter is a point-to-point comparison of both worlds of the New Media Art and Contemporary Art, and, interestingly, the realm of the internet. The author by no means attempts to sustain the independence of the New Media Art World, but tries to examine its movement of migration into the Contemporary Art World. Overall, founded on a very interesting hypothesis of two different worlds, this book tackles the complicated problem of the New Media Art in a way that was refreshing and thought-provoking. The author did a good job in anticipating a postmedia (arriving at this term when reading I felt the spectral presence of transmedia or whatever similar terms they might come up); along with Regine Debatty who reviewed the abstract of the book back in 2011, I would still recommend it to anyone interested in the idea of New Media Art, at least for the author/curator’s mentioning and evaluations of very great number of cases – exhibitions, events, books and articles et cetera – one has to complain a little bit, however, regarding the equally abundant but rather obscure cliches found in the book (“That said, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. A single event does not necessarily indicate a trend.” An explanation of the cliche adds a curiously charming repetitive turn). The publication could be a solid starting point for anyone interested in knowing more and being involved in the making and undoing of the worlds. Though Quaranta’s appropriation of Lev Manovich’s Turing Land vs Duchamp Land seems problematic, as it opens the possibility of an abyss of countless worlds (whose interiority is rendered void, no less abyssal), it nevertheless provides me, somebody who considers himself to be today working on the periphery of the contemporary art world, with an alternative to the disillusion – that the monster with countless tentacles named contemporary art devours all, casually, without even a fight. The appendixes are also very amusing.

作者也在此書中譜寫了20世紀60年代至90年代的新媒體藝術歷史。這洋洋灑灑三十多頁的歷史敘事是《超越新媒體藝術》一書中非常珍貴的內容。作者旨在通過這種方式畫出新媒體藝術世界的版圖,因此這也是非常有野心的一次歷史梳理實踐。然而,加蘭塔也承認,這一歷史梳理僅僅關注了新媒體藝術世界的社會性層面,而忽視了其美學及文化層面。在歷史敘述一章之後,作者逐條對比了新媒體藝術世界及當代藝術世界——有趣的是,此章中另有與互聯網領域的對比討論。加蘭塔也並沒有嘗試強硬地維護新媒體藝術世界的獨立性,而是細致地檢視了此世界向當代藝術世界不斷進行的遷徙運動。總的來說,建立在一個有趣的雙世界假設之上的《超越新媒體藝術》以一種新穎的、激發人思考的方式討論了新媒體藝術這一艱難主題。加蘭塔也在書中為“後媒體”(postmedia)時代的到來做了很好的前瞻性思考(然而在讀到此處時,我不禁想象“超媒體”(transmedia)或別的什麽新奇詞匯的誕生);就像蕾金·德巴蒂(Regine Debatty)在2011年所做的一樣,我也會向所有對新媒體藝術這一概念感興趣的人推薦此書。書中有著豐富而深入的事例討論——討論緊密圍繞大量展覽、活動、著作以及文章進行。然而我也想要輕微地抱怨,同樣頻繁出現的是大量有著書呆子氣的成語及俗語(“盡管如此,一只燕子出現了,並不意味著夏天就來了。一次單一的事件並不能成為一個潮流的指標。”作者可能怕人們不懂這些迂腐的俗語,還必須要在後面加上解釋)。如果你對於諸多世界的生成與消失感興趣的話,這本書可以提供一個很好的思考出發點。加蘭塔的理論所依賴的、由列夫·馬諾維奇(Lev Manovich)提出的圖靈世界(Turing World)與杜尚世界(Duchamp World)的對立的確是有問題的,因為這開啟了這樣一個深淵:無盡數量世界的分裂(而這些世界的內部很可能是虛空的,而不是充盈的),但這本書為我這樣一個自視在當代藝術世界邊緣工作的人提供了有趣的觀點,將我從這樣的一個幻覺拉出:那個被叫做“當代藝術世界”的怪獸輕易地吞噬下所有的事物。《超越新媒體藝術》的附錄也非常有趣。


Domenico Quaranta

translated and edited by Anna Rosemary Commons

LINK Editions, Brescia 2013




LINK Editions, Brescia 2013


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