Brian Reffin Smith
Hijack! How the Computer was Wasted for Art
To the person in the street, a computer is a machine for gaining access
to the web. This is like using a Ferrari to deliver the milk. Computers
are constantly mis-described, misunderstood, mystified, a fortiori in
"computer art" which too often uses the aura of the technology
to justify meretricious art. Real computer-based art is rather rare. The
frontiers of contemporary art are seldom touched, let alone extended.
The computer, in art, has been hijacked by the ever-changing latest thing
(3-D, fractals, data-gloves, internet...)
Thomas Kuhn postulated science progressing by periods of "revolutionary
science" or paradigm shifts, interspersing longer periods of "normal
science". Computer art shows the opposite effect, where "normality"
is constant so-called revolution, the Zeitgeist continuously changing,
and all that is solid melts into air, again and again. Thus there is never
time for thoughtful, well-conceived art to be made using computers. State-of-the-art
technology merely produces miles of state-of-the-technology art.
Computers should be reclaimed for art, and their potential as revolutionary
machines, representation processors rather than just information-processors,
realised. From the 1960s onwards, the history of computer-based arts is
one of neglected ideas, missed opportunities and a terrible waste of potential,
accompanied by a lack of reasoned discourse, of critical language. This
can and should be changed: it is not too late!