About WRO 05 competition
traditionally the most numerous part of the competition are video works (and more exactly: video, animation and mixed techniques). Taking into consideration the history of the Biennale there is nothing strange in it, yet a high quantity of screening works submitted and qualified for competition probably somehow corresponds to actual proportions in media art production. From amongst contemporary electronic media the video belongs to ones that are relatively friendly for its creators, and tools for its processing become more and more popular - however workshop (there constantly appear video works the creators of which design for their own purposes their proper image recording and processing technologies), and conceptual sophistication of many competition works make it difficult to confine oneself to the statement about "an easiness to use". Apparently this medium has still a lot to offer.
Presented installations can be clearly divided into two subgroups. The first ones use forms constructed by means of standard, consumer-made technologies (in particular screens) – this relates first of all to video installations, generally non-interactive ones, the authors of which expand the scope and possibilities of video art through unorthodox presentation forms. The second group includes works the authors of which create their own media with all consequences that follow it: while designing their own communication strategies, technologies and interfaces, they give up consumer-made technologies or conduct their sabotage by finding other applications, and they appeal to retrotechnology.
All performances included into the competition put strong emphasis on sounds, and they all in some way appeal to the microsound aesthetics in frames of basic definitions of this term that comprise interest in physiologic side of sound perception and qualities existing on the verge of hearing physiology and musical composition. They all start from creating their proper software (including breaking off with till recently fundamental for musical composition term of the time line). Instinctively we can also feel economic and political context of microsound understood as a movement boycotting commercial music technologies and distribution channels.
In the face of dawn of CD-ROMs as an artistic projects carrier it is the Internet that becomes the main medium for interactive applications and artistic software. Internet works currently use in an economical manner options specific for contemporary computer networks (firs of all this year competition does not include works that exploit connecting with one another many active users). In turn they use database technologies enabling easy publication and distribution of information (including freeware) and ideas - the URLs become a platform for conceptual projects.
Processor’s clock rate and performance power are no longer a determinant for technological advancement – available performance power will most probably grow, yet it is no longer in the centre of attention neither for industry nor consumers. It does not mean withdrawal from high technology but a change in priority: these are not hyper efficient power technologies that are desired but dispersed ones of connective character, ensuring thus communicative versatility. Creators follow this change by interfering into communication channels and recapitulating gradually the going down to history role of chase of computer industry after GFLOPs.
Life in environment saturated with people communicating with one another by means of small intelligent devices is easy and comfortable as far as control over these devices remains within possibilities of their owners (usually however a large part of control means stays in somebody else’s hands), otherwise a controversial intelligence of these gadgets has to be clashed – a derivate of their principal, commercial function. A part of competition work takes up this subject by creating own control tools or by using such tools, unblocking functions and options hidden in them or replacing some elements (usually the software) by one’s proper ones.
Retrotechnologies are artefacts of programmed postulated future. Future that did not come in defiance of expectations. In defiance of technocratic rhetoric which locates the creator as a technologic industry ally and simultaneously its main consumer and propagator, media art expands in many directions: reaches high technology at the same time returning to low, rubbish technology demystifying its own past and opinions. It can be clearly observed in competition works: not only technologies were subject to recycling and revitalization but also popular visions of future (that is the current time) – as a result of this operation a schizophrenic split between reality and its visions came out. Retrotchnologies, and their character that is disrupting in relation to the industry and commerce complex, also have something from punks’ provocation shifted from moral into economic field.
Retrotechnologies enclose also data reinterpretation and return from digital environment to the analogue one: attempts to make hypertext narration linear, quasi-analogue processing of materials obtained in a digital way and finally constructing mechanic equivalents of digital technologies.
Habitual rather than born out of an actual need invasion on remains of a global ecosphere generates a wave of tensions, reflecting also in the content of the competition. Yet, it is not ecological art but rather works with anthropological verve. Their authors usually use simple means (video, videoinstallations) that contrast with a weird form the mention invasion takes and weird situations it puts its perpetrators into. A feeling of absurd sense of humour experienced while watching these works makes us wonder not as much on artists’ strategies as on surrounding that evokes such an ironic distance.
Living and lengthened in cyberspace urban space as an inspiration, a subject of digitalization and a place for documented interventions is treated by artists in a much softer way. Especially authors rooted into the clubbing culture perceive it as a field of a free aesthetic imagination play. Conversely, observing a gentle recuperation by nature places previously annexed by civilization – for example a decay process of outdated industrial infrastructure – or simply nature itself, takes place in a surprisingly calm, contemplative mood reflecting the state of post-anthropomorphic change.