Archeologies, Indeterminate Textualities, and Possible Futures

This track will revisit the foundations and formulations, the contextual and epistemological entanglements, of the histories of Media Art. The track is organized in 4 sessions and we welcome proposals which address the focus of one of the specified session themes below. However, we also welcome proposals addressing the track’s general theme.

Session 1:

This sub-track will consider the ways in which music, and sonic art more broadly, contributes to the experience of historical contemporaneity, in an attempt to situate it within the critical category of “contemporary art”.

As a time-based medium, music necessarily produces complex temporalities on multiple scales: from microtemporal processes internal to a specific work, to the subjective time of experiencing a piece of music. “Contemporary music”, then, adds to the complexity by introducing a critical relationship to historical time, while prompting a reconsideration of the historical ontology of “art” as such. This is problematic, as music is an art form still awkwardly clinging to its medium in an otherwise transmedial field. A number of questions surface, spanning the ontology of “contemporary art” to temporal experience, as well as problems posed to art historical periodization proper to the field of traditional ‘art history’.


  • Ryan Nolan
  • Geoff Cox et.al.
  • Aarhus University
  • Plymouth University

Session 2:

The sub-track departs from the book publication Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art (Intellect, 2018/2019), which – in perspective of the Nordic context – examines how in our current digital era the digital profoundly changes contemporary art because it changes the life worlds, imaginations and tools of artists, the conditions for art’s production and distribution, and artist’s sense of agency and capacity to affect the world. The sub-track is thus part of a dissemination series relating to the book on ‘art’s digital futures’ that will explore new ways of knowing, sensing, doing and making in contemporary art afforded by the digital.

Chair :

  • Tanya Toft Ag

Session 3:

In a medial archaeological sense, electronic sound and image (radio, TV, audio/video recording) are time based electromagnetic signal modulations and as such their genesis is detached from the track of opto-chemical media (photography and film).

Sonic media practices predated the artistic use of video and of the electronic image. Tape-montage as well as electronic synthesis have been explored in the sonic arts already since the late 1940s. It comes with no surprise, that pioneering video artists such as Nam June Paik, Bill Viola or Steina Vasulka have a background in sound and music. Moreover, experimental techniques (analogue and digital) are oftentimes explored in sound and then transferred to the visual (e.g. sound/image sampling, glitch effects).

Taking the shared technological roots of electronic sound and image as a point of departure, this topic seeks to investigate the influence of sonic media practice on the development of visual media art. A combination of theoretical investigations and practice based audio-visual experimentation would enhance the format of this session.


  • Dieter Daniels
  • Jan Thoben

Session 4:

Since the second half of the 20th Century, popular as well as experimental sonic arts have been increasingly engaging with aesthetics and techniques beyond human authorship (e.g. aleatoric operations, auto-tune, and composition with artificial intelligence). Often, though, the notion of the posthuman in academic and public discourse is associated with that which comes after mankind in a linear historical progression. This is problematic as such an understanding misses crucial points in the historical resonances of sonic media arts and culture in general.

By addressing examples of sonic works in the arts, this panel will instead suggest a nonlinear historical understanding of the posthuman as an ethos (Foucault).


  • Jacob Eriksen, Sound Studies and Sonic Arts, Berlin University of the Arts
  • Felix Gerloff, Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures, Academy of Art and Design Basel FHNW
  • Sebastian Schwesinger, Institute for Cultural History and Theory, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin