New Criticals

What happens to Krauss' narcissism in the presence of this new machine culture? Many artists, myself included, perform inside and alongside of computers. Herein any image that can be recorded can also be adapted in any multitude of imagined ways. Digital video is one piece of data among many. Where the mechanical analogue nature of the 1970s video circuit may still have appeared simple enough to be completely dominated by the artist, the new digital hybrid space appears to expand even as one tries to encapsulate it. Zizek suggests that the computer is an inconsistent machine, which, caught in a snare of self-reference, can never be totalized. Within this context we conceive of a world in which anything is possible; where we can arrange the rules arbitrarily. One may then assume that in a world where the computer is a social metaphor our psychology has undergone this same displacement.

I believe that the result has been a transposition of Krauss' narcissists' ego, from an internalized Self, to a Computer (Other). Indeed, the computer's vastness has resulted in a sometimes-misguided re-modernization of the artist's spirit. Artists, like David Rockeby, who first began performing in the 1980s alongside computers and documenting the results on video, have invested the entirety of their egos into the egos of their machine creations. Indeed, software development cycles have taken the place of aesthetic movements. It is no longer cubism that leads to abstract expressionism, but rather the release of a more powerful computer or a new software program that dictates aesthetic development. Many artists have chosen simply to use machines to mimic aesthetic forms from the past.