Experimenta Playground - Biennial of Media Art

Experimenta Playground - Biennial of Media Art
The Arts Centre BlackBox, Melbourne Aug-Sept
Once my Mum emailed me a link to some virtual bubble wrap. I really enjoyed popping the bubbles with the mouse… for about two minutes. A lot of new-media art has the same limited pull for me. I visited Experimenta Playground to test my prejudices. Just inside the entrance is an interesting looking video featuring the artist Kuang-Yu Tsui, changing his clothes in urban spaces. I watch a while but keep getting bumped by gormless tourists entering. A stupid placement so I move on. Inside the space it’s hard to adjust. Screens and sounds blink franticly like a gaming arcade. Gangs of kids jump at anything that glows while their parents mull about like cows.

Narinda Reeder’s work is an ATM style kiosk providing lifestyle advice to the disillusioned. Help Us Help You Help Centre. I wait behind a couple of boys trying to get the computer-generated voice to register their name as “Dildo Fuckface”. The kiosk seems to be getting pissed off and eventually freezes in protest. I don’t get a turn. A stylish couple are swooning over the “cute little monitors” in a work entitled ‘Charmed’. I’m not charmed. I feel like I’m in a soulless Sony showroom. The artwork seems almost secondary to the technologies featured. Some works would make great screen savers. The virtual, interactive fishpond entitled ‘Immersion’ reminds me of a high tech version of the ‘burning log’ video once sold on infomercials.

Shaun Gladwell’s simple slow-mo video of himself skating around various public fountains is like catching a breath. I catch snatches of a moody soundtrack but it’s drowned out by the blinking jangle. I imagine Shaun’s work would be great amplified and projected but it’s lost in these surrounds. I give up and head off to Ikea for another dose of masochistic people hate. I need new picture frames.
Jolly Johnson


Anonymous Brendan said...

I once made multimedia (computer) art, that was until my art lecturers grabbed me around the throat and demanded that I make a choice between ideas or technology. When you base your art practice around a computer and what it can do it's like a hammer. Put a hammer in a gallery and you expect to hit something with it (preferably the frozen interactive work).

It's hard to avoid the old cliché 'the medium is the message' yet video appears to have managed to break free of its constraints (possibly due to the lack of projectors in people's homes). Technology focused works are stuck in a rut, just like the hammer. Interactive works are burdened by the mundane tasks the computer normally does. I see interactive and I think 'I want to check my email' or why doesn't this work.

Ten years ago we had a saying used to illustrate multimedia works - teach the dog a trick and it will get a reward - when applied in the post television age, multimedia art seems a big daggy. Everything is interactive now.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Jared Davis said...

With regard to Experimenta Playground, your argument is apt, however this may be reflective of the context with which such ‘new-media art’ is placed, rather than the quality of the works per se.

Truly the profound effects of digital media in contemporary culture are of pertinence too strong to ignore, and by using such media to produce art, one may in turn critique and observe ‘cyberculture’ to great extent. The issue I believe lies in the differentiation between art and art’s subject of analysis.

Clearly, the location, marketing and apparent big budget of Experimenta Playground seems to wish for a mass crowd, indeed at the expense of the works themselves. Rather than asking its audience to think critically about the artworks, the show tends to read as a place to keep the kids happy after a Sunday afternoon at the markets, and consequently the works within it turn out to be merely integrated traces of the ‘cyberculture’ they initially set out to critique. They become not artworks, but simply games, skate vids and a short film a bit like ‘that Honda commercial’.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous brendan said...

I agree. One of my favorite shows of recent times was White Noise at ACMI. Each piece was installed with respect to the medium and treated as fine art to be slowly digested.

2:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the experimenta show was very lame, very safe and very banal...so much for experimental media arts...it was more about pleasing the kids...but to be fair at least they are trying to do something different to the standard art world experience...which can be as boring as bat shit

12:11 PM  
Anonymous speech said...

what is different - is it the interactivity? would you elaborate on what you see as the standard art world experience - and why you think it is boring

12:56 PM  

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