Abstract- Hey, Look at Me! Thoughts On the Canonical Exclusion of Early Electronic Art
This paper will address the absence of early electronic art from the historically evolving artistic canon. Looking specifically at work produced between 1970 and 1995 by Canadian artists, Doug Back, Catherine Richards, Tom Sherman, Jana Sterbak and Norman White, I will argue that the electronic art object contested museum practices by drawing attention to itself in ways that could be deemed "uncivilized". Utilizing Althusser´s interpellation of the subject metaphorically, and Mieke Bal´s reading of the art object as subject, I will suggest that the "bad behaviour" of early electronic art created reminiscences of the carnivalesque that was vanquished from the museum at its genesis. The hailing nature of these works, their insistence on calling to the passerby, points to their contestation of the museological apparatus, and their abject nature as art objects/subjects. My discussion will explicate the historical precedents within the exhibitionary complex that led to their initial exclusion. It will make a case for the threatening nature of the art object that behaves badly and show that Ursula Franklin´s culture of compliance is one that applies not only to subjects but to objects as well, having ramifications for how art history is produced.