Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Reading Response | Navas | JD Pirtle

“The Influence of Non-places in the Concept of Latin America” by Eduardo Navas discusses issues of non-place, the border-less space of the internet and the plight of artists working in the wake of the information age. I found all of the works mentioned from the Transitio_MX Bienalle to be interesting, but wondered about their relevance to Navas’ curatorial interests and specific theme. At several points in the reading it seems that Navas thinly connected these projects to any notion of Latin America, if at all.

What interested me most about Navas’ paper was the issues of the great shift in the milieu of art; it becomes difficult to look at pieces as were mentioned in the text and decipher the country of origin for either the art or the artist. Projects like Translator II: Grower have a certain ambiguity and universality that would enable it to be immediately accepted by various cultures, regardless of their level of technocracy (provided that they had seen grass before). This universality present in Raaf’s piece and a great deal of art/tech work leads to a chicken-and-egg question: do contemporary artists make this type of work to appeal to an increasingly globalized community? If so, is it a conscious effort? Do they perceive a mutuality of connection via the non-place of the internet and therefore create work that is designed to reach anyone conceptually? If not, why are so many works increasingly global in scale and universal in content? Perhaps what people (including the artists themselves) have come to expect of technology art is what they expect from the technology they encounter everyday. In a world made up of cultures that are increasingly nationalistic and simultaneously becoming mutually fluent in a homogenous mode of interaction (user interfaces), are the best art pieces those that deliver universal art experiences through the modes of instant, sleek and technological?

This concept of universality is related to Navas’ mention that “Las Vegas is architectural simulacra”--a more accurate conception of Las Vegas would be as caricature. A simulation is such that it is difficult to discern it from the real thing. Las Vegas is caricature in that it highlights or exacerbates desired aspects of these places and diminishes or hides others. Likewise, if in all of the social networking sites that Navas references, a great deal of simulation or caricature is present in the way people present or represent themselves. Things are punctuated or de-accentuated. What people have come to expect of technology is either simulation or caricature. What technology used in art production implicates is producing work of a scale that is significantly global, universal or physical. Perhaps art/tech practitioners can harness these qualities to embody non-place and place simultaneously, resolving some of the issues Navas discusses.

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