terça-feira, janeiro 15, 2013

de-touch-ment

Part of what's impressive about the Internet is that it's infinite, immaterial, and uncontainable—it's untouchable—but I still touch it many times a day.

-- Anthony Huberman (US/CH)
Anthony Huberman writes about evokes the sense of touching as a representation of the works selected to be part of Detouched exhibition patent at Project Arts Centre in Ireland. As a guest curator Huberman refers to the sense of touching related to works that were developed around one of the human senses and that is in fact very present in this digital era.

Do we have to touch in order to feel?

Feelings or how the human body reacts through stimulation resulting on emotions are important to the general idea of being alive, of being present. Today while taking part as an audience in a conference that aimed at discussing issues concerning the intersection between Art and Technology the moderator (Carlos Pimenta) brought up a PowerPoint presentation that quoted some interesting authors that have been thinking about the technology and its impact on the world.
The conference, named after 'Les écrans sur la scène' (translated to Portuguese as The Stage Full of Screens: between transparency and opacity) was centered in discussing the impact of technology on theater, not only going through the analysis of how much technology has transformed our lives - bringing the species to a whole new level of low-tech cyborgs -, but questioning the balance between what it used to be an established art form and that is fighting with an adaptation process that is taking longer than expected and the result is unknown. While many (again) state that Theater is long gone, others question how can this adaptation result without damaging the purpose of this ancient story telling form that has throughout the times suffered many changes and faced the adversities of other kinds of technology, going from orality to text based, from ritual to practice, from amateurism to professionalism not to mention the process of bringing engineering, light design, sound enhancement...

At some point of the discussion the topics were mainly two and were related to the way the audience experienced the artistic object through the use of any kind of mediation. And the impact the bringing technological input to the theatrical device.

The idea of detachment was very present in the conversation while thinking on the possibilities of broadcasting plays in contrast to an physical and emotional engagement that happens on having the experience as a community in a theater room with someone sitting next to you. That idea of detachment again came associated with the general idea that only the visual sense is activated in such action of watching something on a screen that all the other senses are somehow left aside.

In order to talk about the impact of technology on theater many bring the subject of video on stage and the problems of such visual impact that often overtakes the human action going on at the same time. Although to talk about video is not at all to talk about the impact of technology we can take it as an example and try to understand through its use what work needs to be done in order to find a balance between human and technology on stage. To measure on stage the presence of all kinds of media being used.

Going back to Marshall McLuhan statement "The Medium is the Message" can be a very simple way to understand that every medium used as a support and therefore becomes (as a canvas supporting a painting) part of the entire piece. The support itself along with the content becomes one object and allows - depending on what those supports are - the "message" to be experienced by the spectator as the artist previously designed. The support=medium=message is the device and should be thought as one thing since all of this is going to be received and perceived together. One part of a whole shouldn't be considered or thought to be a decorative element in the picture for the whole picture is to be defined as decorative if someone using it or watching it decides to do it.
The same notion that led to the deconstruction of 'canonical art', in very specific periods where the canons were considered to be out of date, and new tools and art practices were considered, introduced and confirmed was means of enhancement in order to achieve new results more adequate to the motivations and 'urgencies' of the time, is the same notion that introduced the radio, the television, the telephone as tools that were the support for the message and were in fact the message itself sometimes raising awareness to themselves and their social impact.

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