Nouveaux nouveaux nouvelles

Douglas Edric Stanley


ZINC/ECM/Friche Bel de Mai
ZINC/ECM/Friche Bel de Mai

So we did our book opening this evening. I wasn’t really feeling so hot, so I rambled a bit. I also was taught that when you don’t have anything to say…

Jean Cristofol was brilliant as usual. Unfortunately, just as I actually found a topic I could sink my teeth into, and finally was able to eek out some sort of constructive debate, we broke off without any questions from the audience. Huh?

Now I remember why I hate round-table discussions. They’re designed to avoid any deep exploration of an idea, and people are basically asked to give their “opinion” on some arbitrary subject, which is just about one of the most useless things we have to offer one another. I’ll have to avoid these in the future.

One of the more interesting points Jean made this evening revolved around what he called a “dispositif matriciel”. He was arguing that the territory of digital art is in fact a shifting one (clearly), and cannot be lifted out of the contemporary social field, or delimited as some isolated event within that field. The transformations brought about by “New Media” cut across all fields, not just artistic ones. In fact, that we cannot even describe this field, and tend to call it names such as “New Media” attests to the fact that the dispositif, the apparatus, has yet to coalesce into a specific technical form such as cinema did, or photography before it. In fact he suggests that no such apparatus will arrive. It is precisely because we have not yet invented (and will not invent) the “dispositif matriciel”, the apparatus that opens up an entirely new field of artistic endeavour, that we profit from a speculative mode, all the more interesting as each apparatus is designed as a specific diagram of social, political, and technological relations. It’s the open nature of this field that gives it its force — and gives us such trouble with those that require a delimited category in order to be accepted as artistically valid (traditional/contemporary, same difference). For each apparatus offers its own reading of the power stuctures that organise us and our world.

There are of course, within the field of so-called “New Media” (as you can tell Jean and I dissed pretty heavily this term), certain apparatuses which seems to be opening up new fields, for example I suggested we look at Video Games as one such field. But none of these apparatuses represents the “dispositif matriciel” for the entirety of “New Media” as a whole. Hence the approximate nature of the term which ultimately will have to replaced with something else, something equally aproximative.