Going Digital 2018
Keynote Speaker Dejan Grba*
Presenting and Promoting Digital Art Within Contemporary Digital Culture”
The significance of facing challenges and the necessity for new strategies in promoting digital art were the key points at the closing plenary of ISEA 2016 in Hong Kong. We acknowledged that digital art professionals predominantly operate and most efficiently communicate within the limited circles of like-minded artists, authors and cultural workers. Combined with glitches of human cognition such as confirmation bias, framing and heuristic reasoning, this contributes to our prevailing illusion that today digital art is widely recognized, well established and adequately evaluated. Digital art is certainly much more present in contemporary culture and more widely covered by the media than it had ever been before, but it remains a fringe of the art world, of the art market and—most critically—of art education.
With a myriad of unresolved conceptual, academic, technical and economic issues for marginality of digital art, we have already started hyping on post-digital, post-media and post-Internet art in which the complex, often unstable and difficult to understand layers of digital infrastructure are taken by the artists as permanent or indefinitely granted utilities of everyday life. These digital artistic interventions and aestheticizations of digital culture at once utilize the means of digital technology and thematize the phenomenology of digital paradigm. Regardless of how its nomenclature may be misleading and how its current theoretical handling may be dubious, this divergent artistic production is real and momentous, it contributes to digital art and, being well received by the mainstream art world, it both enriches and complicates the cultural identity of digital art. It makes it clear that today (and indeed ever before) it does not suffice to just be keen and enthusiastic in presenting digital art but that we need to continuously think up and update a repertoire of intelligent strategies which simultaneously promote digital art, educate on it, and incite the broad audience into layered contextualization and critical appreciation of this groundbreaking creative enterprise.
This was one of the principal motivations for the exhibition project TRACE: Wayfinding in Contemporary New Media Art that I curate with Anna Novakov and Yvonne Senouf, and in this talk I will share my experiences and insights in making it. TRACE features the artists who draw inspiration from different forms of situational awareness, transforming them into complex new platforms for reflection and discourse. It premiered at MoCA Salon in Belgrade, proceeding to Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland, California, and leading up to the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain. Through every iteration, TRACE is redeveloped as an autonomous project with different configurations of artworks, educational activities, online and printed documentation. The exhibition includes a printed catalogue issued by MoCA Belgrade, and the complete project will be presented in a book published by McNally Jackson in New York.
*media artist, author and educator
Dejan Grba is a media artist, author and educator. He has exhibited and lectured at venues including ADM/NTU Singapore, ISEA Manizales and Hong Kong, SIVA Shanghai, SU Syracuse, ZKM Karlsruhe, IFA Berlin, GfZK Leipzig, Montevideo Amsterdam, MiP Vienna, CCN and <rotor> Graz, MoCA Novi Sad, MoCA and MST Belgrade. He has published papers in new media art journals worldwide. He is a founder and chair of New Media department at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade where he teaches Transmedia Research. He teaches Poetics of Digital Art at Digital Art PhD program at University of the Arts in Belgrade.