On the genealogy of art that can sense: From historical avant-garde to 21st-Century human-machine art

11:30, Thursday 6 May 2021 (30 minutes)
Irina Lyubchenko, Independent scholar, Canada

This paper investigates the impetus to create interactive art that relies on sensor data through establishing its genealogy in the works of historical avant-garde artists, such as Futurists and Suprematists. Vanguard artists considered their works as sensations to be transmitted to viewers and regarded artist’s sensory apparatus, the surrounding environment, the artwork, and the viewer as a networked system. They also shared a view of organic life as a system, which made it possible to conceive of machines as organisms --- a conviction that machines, being empowered by electricity, a form of energy that activates human bodies, may have a spirit or an independent intellect. The artists examined in this paper share an aspiration to repress the subjectivity of the artist by conceiving their artworks as having some form of sensory capability. This shared approach allows the character of the art medium/machine to manifest itself in the work and participate in the creative process as a co-author (for example, contemporary artists often employ AI and machine learning). This paper claims that twenty-first-century electronic artists, who aspire to create art that can sense, continue to investigate concerns that inspired early twentieth-century avant-garde artists.

Independent Scholar