The 24th issue of Notebook for Art, Theory and Related Zones examines the question of what we deem new in art and why. Five authors offer answers, each from a different perspective. The philosophy and art theorist Kamil Nábělek looks at how we might think of the artwork as an exemplar. He searches for parallels between Giorgio Agamben’s exemplary paradigm and Walter Benjamin’s concept of the dialectical image. The film theorist Sylva Poláková looks at light-kineticism in the work of Zdeněk Pešánek. Alexandra Moralesová investigates the contemporary phenomenon of art film laboratories as a platform for experimental filmmaking in which traditional film material receives a new lease of life after the digital transformation of the industrial production of moving images. The last article in this issue is by Adam Franc and looks at the history of software art. Like the previous two texts it attempts to move away from the history of a specific medium and instead to reflect upon the general assumptions behind one of the spheres of art production at present. The issue ends with Josef Vojvodík’s review of a monograph written by Rey Michalová on Karel Teige. While the new inevitably ages, the return of the old is never simply repetition.
The Artwork as Exemplary Paradigm and Dialectical Image: An Analogy between the Concepts of Giorgio Agamben and Walter Benjamin
The consideration relates to the concept of paradigm in its dimension of a system and its dimension of an exemplum. In this context, Giorgio Agamben’s interpretation of paradigm in the sense of an exemplum is mentioned. It is understood as a specific kind of analogical knowledge that avoids dichotomous categories. Every work of art, whether historical (i.e., “canonized”) or contemporary, actually works in terms of the paradigmatic exemplum. Contemporary works of art could be shown as a paradigm or an exemplum, whose “value” or “meaning” cannot be given by an identifiable rule, but by its own exemplification, its own expression. Historical works of art can be interpreted not only in their dimension of the system, but they can be also reinterpreted as the paradigmatic exemplum. To the notion of exemplary paradigm, I add the concept of the dialectical image of Walter Benjamin. I try to find similarities and analogies in both approaches. Their comparison allowed me to reflect the nature of the work of art and its relation to the interpretative and historical context.
The Resonance of Czech Luminokinetism
In this study I focus on Czech luminokinetism as a practice integrating a moving image whose media automatisms resonate in the Czech audiovisual sphere across generations. Because this is an interdisciplinary practice whose forms and operations are influenced by a host of dynamics, the initial film perspective is supplemented by related themes from the spheres of architecture, public municipal space, and the organisation of culture and the applied arts, including advertising. In this study I underline links to previous working methods, historical situations and specific personalities, whose legacy resonates in contemporary manifestations of film/architectonic convergence. As well as following the relocation of certain automatisms of individual media practices, this study anchors itself locally by examining possible intergenerational relationships, of which the legacy of Zdeněk Pešánek is especially important. The bridging of different period methods and themes (across the entire gamut of cultural informational references) might these days seem new. However, rather than a new form of art we can speak of the lumino kinetic interventions more as an unstable visual practice within the framework of which the requirements of the applied and free arts were asserted. Location became demonstrably crucial for their analysis. Location is itself part of a certain cultural practice, whose technical and aesthetic customs and conventions the organisers of these events had to come to terms with, and the relocated moving image helped them, inter alia, as a generally intelligible communication system.
Experimental Film: Entering the Film Laboratory and Meeting the Body
Over the two past decades experimental filmmaking found its base more than ever in the photo-chemical laboratory. The filmmaker as producer enters different roles and gets his hands into the whole process of filmmaking. The artistic gesture is expanded from the area of conceptualization, filming and editing to the very hand-crafted approach towards the material of the celluloid and thus allows it to open the blackbox sometimes labelled Kodak. It seems that the transformation of the film industry and its infrastructure over the last twenty years represents a paradigmatic turn and the most important moment for film as art. The film laboratory as an indispensable part of the making of the photochemical film is being recognized as a creative tool in experimental and art films. Artist-run film labs allow for the development of creation in the medium of film and create a platform for the convergence of traditional knowledge and skills with contemporary experience of digital awareness. Regarding those new working conditions in experimental filmmaking we face the transformation of the relationship between the artist and the medium of the film which acquires a new bodyness as a “body of the film”.
The History of Software Art: Several Beginnings, Several Histories
This paper introduces an artistic movement known as software art that was born almost twenty years ago. The art movement doesn’t just use software as a mere tool for creating art but also works with software itself as an artistic material and fully-fledged means of expression. This paper describes the complex history of the art movement and its various historical roots. Although at first glance, it may seem that software art is a completely new art praxis, we can find several historical predecessors of software art in the world of art. The first art movement that deeply influenced software art was conceptual art. Conceptual art shares several fundamental characteristics with software art such as the shift from the physical object to an abstract idea or the creation of instructions for the realization of artworks. Software art is also inspired by destructive tendencies in art (for example Dadaism, destructive performances, Body Art) because the destruction is one of its most important strategies, realized through the performance of computer viruses. However, the historical roots of software art don’t come exclusively from widely recognized art movements but can also be identified in some artworks of early digital art. In the last section of the paper, we describe a revisionist approach to the writing of software art history. In this case, software art is not put into art history as a continuation of the coherent story of art but takes on the role of active participant in the creation of our present. Software art is seen as a new opportunity for the critical reflection of contemporary art and society which are deeply influenced by ubiquitous software.