Mutating Media

Mutating Media

9 October 2008, Vooruit Arts Centre Ghent

Mutating Media is not about something new. The existence of mutating media is actually an evident consequence of the fact that artists have been searching for innovation and controversy throughout the whole 20th century. The avant-garde idea, that started as a revolt against the long-established traditions and a dismissal of the prevailing institutional codes, finally led to a radical deconstruction of the classical media of art. From then on, the boom of multimedia (using everything crisscross and combined) liberated art from its canonical disciplines. Concurrently, technological revolutions brought about a modernisation of old media like photography and film, as well as a sweeping flux of new media.

Due to these transformations contemporary artists have an extensive set of instruments at their disposal. But what is more important, they also got highly aware of the nature of media and their mutual differences. This influenced artistic interests and methods drastically. Today, for instance, most artists do no longer work within the conditions of one medium but rather confront and mix media. Also, often it is decided afterwards, once the design is done, what medium will be used.

The present-day use of media is, however, not restricted to such trans- or postmedium experiments. Because of the omnipresence of multimedia, many artists prefer to focus on one specific medium only and aim to make explicit its forms and limits in a unique play of hypermediality. Or they choose for a return to basics, away from high-tech digital media, and investigate the possibilities of new and old analogue or 'unplugged' versions. Also, sometimes artists that mainly use one medium are well provoked by the aesthetics that emerge from other media and, consequently, try to simulate, contrast, or translate these artistic logics. While doing this they systematically expand and transform the qualities of their medium. In these cases, the cross-over between media is not executed directly, but rather takes place from the inside out, that is, from an intermedial stance. In still other cases, artists are especially interested in the unknown space between existing media, and explore these intermedial zones, searching for the hybrid beings that occupy these in-betweens.


Wouter Davidts (professor, architecture and fine art, Ghent University) Paul Demets (poet, Lecturer in film and literature, KASK, University College Gent), Maaike Bleeker (professor, theatre and dance, Utrecht University), Arjen Mulder (author media theory, V2_, Rotterdam), Kurt D'Haeseleer (media artist, Brussels), Manu Luksch (audiovisual artist, London), Ali Momeni (media artist, assistant professor, art and science, University of Minnesota) and Johan Grimonprez (fine artist, Brussels).