Kuwakubo Ryota

November 7, 2005 at 4:11 am Leave a comment

For awhile I’ve been reading about media art on we make money not art and other sites and while I’ve always thought it was cool, it never struck me as being fully art. While there’s a lot of art involving computers and the internet, the art uses technology a means not an ends to continuing art’s history. But tonight I was reading an interview with Kuwakubo Ryota and he essentially confirmed what I’d always thought. He says, “people in the media art field see what they do as an extension of contemporary art, but the truth is people well versed in contemporary art will have nothing to do with them…[excerpt some of the usual my work doesn’t sell stuff]… You could put a media artist and a contemporary artist in the same place, and they’d have no common topic… which is a real shame.” He then goes on to say he would like to be considered a contemporary artist. But this creates an interesting question: what is so different from say contemporary primarily western art that uses technology and Japanese media artists? Is media art like graffitti a much loved form with out the content of the old?
    Ryota’s reaction to contemporary art though is a little refreshing: “I tried studying contemporary art, and started to find it stiffling. I’d prefer to do things in a more playful way.” This does ignore Jeff Koons or The Art Guys (never thought I’d use them in arguement), but it does suggest Ryota wants to escape the history of art which certianly isn’t a bad thing. Art could use competition and while design is quickly escalating to near art like levels in the world of commerce the fact is both are saddled with long histories that ultimately derive from the clergy. We wouldn’t have typography if monks hadn’t saddled every word of a manuscript with as much pontification as possible, and art’s patrons were often churches that ended up producing most of Art’s masterpieces. Mr. Ryota states that his work isn’t as technical as MIT, but one day someone will come along who will be.
    Perhaps the real problem with media art is that it doesn’t have the severity of art’s questions, the probing depth of it’s masters, etc. It’s similar to grafitti. It’s inherntly un-hegemonic right now so it’s a world of play. Art has a long history full of errors and mistakes, but do we have to do everything right if we have the chance to do it again? Media Art is hardly the place for art’s thinkers, but taken the open forms of modern art say Barney or Cao Fei, the humor of McCarthy, and the jokes inhernt in much art, isn’t media art what people are trying to reach? Well no, the openness of contemporary art is a product of reacting to art’s history as a whole. While art with a sense of humor is nothing new Asia has little problem shrugging off the heavy handed conceptual precepts of western art. I see little Asian art that takes art as seriously as the West does. While Ryota admits to wanting to be considered part of this tradition will he come to the world conversation of art or will art come to Japan? Chances are both will meet some ways away. While media art has found it’s hitch with the technorati, it’s connection to art as a whole is fairly obvious. Mr. Ryota could do it, to make a weigthy but fun conversation out of knick knacks and technological trinkets and their encompaying philosophies. Technology is an intrinsic part of our lives and while contemporary art has no problem using it to critique art as a whole and provide a neede comedic break from modernism’s stern exterior, very little art has truly captured the strangeness of what technology has created. After Bueys we’ve had to accept that actions can be more complex and weighty than what lasts in paint or words. Duchamp made just the possibility of making art into an act. The form of their art itself performance or concept itself dictated a new form of art making. What’s to say that media art doesn’t represent a new form? That’s it’s seemingly empty messages aren’t just naive gestures, that we’re beginning to face something new? What’s needed, unfortunately, is boredom. If you can’t take the form seriously enough to make something out of it, why do it all (ok so yeah it is worth doing for the fun and creating cool little gizmos like the bitman etc.)? The idea that you can’t have fun and make contemporary art is funny and much of what I saw last time I was in New York seemed to be art as idle pleasures like roller skating and chewing gum. But art could use a competitor and coupled with design and grafitti media art does make a benign place to stash away all the cash art as a brand is producing.

cuts:
” maybe what’s more at stake is creating a competitor. While art certianly has it’s tricks, what’s to say we’re not building a new insitution? The questions are about the same for media as they were for art’s origins: realism. Software struggles to attain realism both graphically, physically, economically, smell-a-lee, and after that? Design, grafitti, and others are building a corpus that isn’t bogged down in words as art journalism is increasingly having little to do with history and focusing more on art as brand. Maybe media art is merely the objects we found in those caves so long ago, but more likely art will swallow it whole.

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