User:Nicole Hametner/Reading, Writing & Research Methodologies 2013-TM2.03

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From Transmediale to my own skeptical position vis-à-vis new technologies

The choice to visit the media art festival Transmediale was based on my need for a better insight in the digital culture, a culture that still remains hard to access for my own purpose. The experience in Berlin at the beginning of this year has therefore pointed the way for closer inspection of my own situation within this media landscape. This first outline for an ongoing examination can be seen as my response to the trip at the Transmediale. Furthermore it links to the reading of my self-directed research as well as to the literature of the chosen media object for the encyclopedia, the black box.
The article Der Zukunft müde (tired of the future) from the Berliner newspaper TAZ submits a critic of this year’s festival. The author writes that instead of looking forward, the event is stuck in a so-called retromania. By comparing media art with the art scene in general he sees both “caught in a postmodern loop”. He uses the notion “future fatigue” from the science fiction author William Gibson, to emphasize the felt lack of interest to broach the issue of an essential critic towards the today’s media use. If media art could comment the contemporary culture, he claims: Apparently there aren’t any artists anymore, who have something to say about today’s media. His review underlined partly my impression of the festival and in addition allowed me to recognize that it would be interesting to expand the examination of my own critical attitude towards new technology with positions from former era’s where the confrontation with the progress had strong impact in society. The cultural pessimism as counterpart of the faith in progress serves as topic to investigate. A theme that all the more wins attention at the current situation of the 21st century. In my bachelor thesis I compared la fin du siècle of the 19th with the turn of the century thirteen years from now. The following lines perfectly tie in with this preset research outline by saying that both time periods were marked by euphoria and in the same time by fear of the future. To link here again to the notion of fatigue, the author Norbert Bolz points out that the promises and ideals of the so-called modernity failed and became utopia and nightmare in the same time. This is why it is so hard to step into a new era. (Norbert Bolz, Theorie der Müdigkeit) The decadence of the Belle Époque seems to repeat today in the industrial nations and as a student in a media art department I cannot avoid to be touched by the idea of cultural pessimism. Especially while working with the technical image of photography and film, which has its origin in the 19th century, right next to the industrialization with all its radical impact on society, what links inevitably to the current media environment we live in.
Relied on my self-directed research I will start to investigate Junichiro Tanizakis essay about Asian culture and western enlightenment. This serves as a research point for a better understanding of my own position towards new media and the omnipresence of new technology in our contemporary world. What would interest me furthermore in that context is Paul Virilio's essay L'art à pert de vue, where he writes about the loss of the capacity to see due to the constant perception through interfaces and how the ubiquitous presence of light and images leads to overexposure and blindness. This outline ends for the present with a quote from Charles Baudelaire: "Nobody can ignore that the industry, when it interacts with art, becomes the worst deadly enemy. If we allow such intervention to the spheres of the mystery and the imaginary, in everything, that only has its value because man adds a part of his soul - then woe to us!"