Keyword Dictionary of Contemporary Art

EN
HOME PROJECT The Footprints of Maroon Posthuman Body and Visuality: local and virtual interface
Mrinal Kulkarni # Post Humanist # Body Visuality

Posthuman Body and Visuality: local and virtual interface

INTRODUCTION

The phrase "posthuman" refers to methods of living that might result from hypothetical changes in human nature brought about by scientific and technological developments. It also signifies the victory of humanistic concepts and the decentering of human uniqueness. Depending on the chosen descriptive method, it can relate to a wide range of philosophical and theoretical perspectives, from those that are very sceptical of technological determinism to those that are technoprogressive. According to these perspectives, rather than providing chances to extend rational mastery and overcome humanity's biological constraints, the posthuman situation offers an opportunity to balance humans and nonhumans, promote horizontal ontologies, and widen the frontiers of ethics.

These diverse philosophical stances blur the lines between people, technology, and nature in favour of more flexible and hybrid arrangements. Discussions of posthuman realities often centre on how to map the online world in connection to offline reality and how online hierarchies and other forms of local access to global settings impact offline reality and online cultures. The hypervisuality of the photos places the body as an instrument and as a venue for the local, global, and virtual interplay of offline located/situated producers and consumers and online global viewers. It demands a new perspective to study the concept of the posthuman body and visuality in the context of the current art practices to understand how the relationships of local technologies and the high technologies configure the idea of culture, how the economic structures of the high tech and the regional situations manifest in these artworks. Focusing on "the interface between cities, information, society, technology, and culture," this paper will study its impact on history and contemporary practices. How do locals feel about technological advancements? How do they portray today's image through technological products, if at all? This paper will also study the implication of these artworks on the art market, Will NFT develop a brand-new system for collecting, selling, and creating value in contemporary art?

導讀

「後人類」意指「隨著科學和科技的發展,人性產生假設性的改變,此情況可能造就的生存方式」,同時也強調人本主義的勝利以及人類獨特性的去中心化。根據描述方式不同,它還可以拓及更廣泛的哲學及理論範疇,包括對科技決定論存疑,或是主張科技進步主義的觀點。基於這些觀點,「後人類」並非提出藉由擴張理性主宰去克服人類的生物性限制,而是試圖在人類與非人類之間取得平衡、提倡水平式本體論,並拓寬倫理的邊界。

關於後人類現實的討論,經常聚焦在如何映繪與離線真實世界相互關連的線上世界,以及線上階層體系和在區域進行全球存取的其他形式,如何衝擊離線真實世界及線上文化。照片的超視覺性使身體成為一種工具和場所,提供身處離線位置/情境的生產者、消費者與位於線上的觀者進行區域性及全球性的虛擬互動。我們需要一個新的觀點來研究在當前藝術實踐脈絡下的後人類身體及視覺性,進而理解區域科技與高科技之間的關係如何配置文化概念,以及高科技的經濟結構和地域性的情境如何體現在藝術作品之中。

藝術史的研究奠基在「觀看屬於視覺與視覺性的物理行為」此一概念,視覺機制使觀看等同認識,並與可視性、識別性、圍繞在凝視的相關爭議等概念相關聯。解構由視覺經驗產出的圖片幫助發展論述,數位媒體的擴散則轉變了物件的物質性與其表徵之間的關係。新媒體藝術探討物質事物的能動性以及數位媒體的特殊性,並對表徵的概念提出質疑,它代表的是身體的模擬視覺性。

新媒體藝術將其表徵帶向更深遠的層次,它不再受限於「心靈之眼」,而是構建出一個世界,能夠遊走其間並加以操縱,於是數位媒體作為一種美感經驗,其物質性包含的信息帶來的影響,以及其實質特徵如何被組織起來成為意義誕生的來源,這些都被記錄在新媒體藝術創作中,它屬於具體化藝術形式。藝術為人體、其他藝術作品及各種媒介搭起橋樑。

新媒體科技迅速改變了視覺文化和視覺藝術中身體的主要視覺性。它展示出身體在面對後現代主義通用的標準概念時,如何同時作為生成情感的場域,以及發出抵抗的來源。視覺媒體的廣泛存在提供了視覺性的世界觀,以視覺語言演繹這個世界。這種演繹過程並非無害,但它們詮釋了這個世界、呈現出世界觀,並代表了這個世界。

透過不同科技構建而出的視覺性,成為一個重要的關注點,因為它探討了外部視覺科技對社會文化層面的影響,以及人的內在性的全面重構。隨著數位科技發展,視覺性被視為一種實踐,即以人類學和文化上接受的形式,提供資料庫中原始的數學代碼序列,此層面也提出針對身體概念和相關視覺性的問題。

新科技和藝術實踐的介入,影響了新媒體藝術的美學及構成。如同1920年代的新前衛藝術,新媒體以「挪用」作為創作手段。大量豐沛的素材來源,結合電腦軟體無處不在的「複製」和「貼上」功能,進一步削弱「從零開始創作」優於「挪用」的觀念。這種媒體考古學的藝術創作手法,偏好採取合作形式,並且顯著傾向「挪用」而非從零創作,為新媒體藝術中作者原創性衰弱的典型例證。

文藝復興時期利用窗戶比喻椎體視覺的概念仍存在於數位時代,最明顯的例子就是微軟著名的作業系統名稱:Windows(窗戶),然而除了名稱之外,概念上並沒有相似之處。數位窗戶與文藝復興觀點中的窗戶及電影銀幕都有很大不同,在文藝復興時期的比喻中,窗戶是一種可以看穿過去(look through)的構造,而數位窗戶的概念則是觀看(look at)。

新媒體藝術的美學重點不在於以新的方式觀看或展現這個世界,而是在於存取及使用已經存在的媒體。在這個層面上,列夫.曼諾維奇將新媒體視為以舊媒體作為主要素材的後媒體或超媒體。

新媒體藝術探索媒體的表演性層面,並挑戰科技文化中對於身體定位的傳統理解。人類發現將思想上傳到電腦並放棄自身身體的方法,漢斯・莫拉維克將此稱為「後生物」未來,用物質具體化來定義人類界線的假設將變得不全然絕對。凱薩琳・海爾斯進一步討論探討了更加先進的後人類演變,主張後人類修辭的某個特定面向——目前將自我定義為等同心智,並將身體僅僅視為心智活動的載體——持續重演去具體化,而這正是自由主義傳統裡的關鍵歷程。

學者們探討具體化和去具體化之間的對比如何分裂成更複雜多樣的結構。凱薩琳・海爾斯強調物質性的再定位並非指實體性,也並非重新想像混雜文本及主體性的物質基礎。

她認為物質性是由實體特徵和表意策略在動態交互作用下產生的突現性質,並將物質性定位為實體現實和人類意圖的交會處,將大自然聯想為主機板。在過去,大自然被視為人類行為和實體現實的來源,現在則被通用電腦給取代。

新媒體藝術的論述聚焦在實際的電腦操作中,神秘化以及擬人化投射如何創造文化想像。在這種想像之中,數位主體被理解為有自主性的生物,富有近似人類的動機、目標和策略。因此,數位主體產生出人類與人造生物兩者的辯證定位以及混種主體性。

製作、儲存、傳輸這三種行為皆與信息、主體身體和文本相關連,因此,透過分析這些模態如何影響信息、主體身體和文本,藝術作品、藝術家的主體性以及數位物件得以被明確表達出來。



印度新媒體藝術

印度的新媒體藝術發展僅有數十年的歷史。受1990年代興起的科技場景以及當時的社會氛圍影響,藝術家開始選擇以新媒體創作。在1990年代,印度藝術家遊走於不同媒體,使用光影裝置和錄像作為表現介面,Raqs Media Collective、Thukral and Tagra、Desire Machine等藝術家團體也開始將新媒體藝術實踐拓及數位及虛擬範疇。

Raqs Media Collective 是 Jeebesh Bagchi、Monica Narula、Shuddhabrata Sengupta 三人於1992年成立的新德里藝術家團體,他們遵循團體所宣稱「動態沈思」的必要性,其創作形式和方法能產出游移不定的軌跡,但在最終達成具一致性的思辨進程。這些創作深入探討身分定位、都市發展、現代化、權力形式等相關議題。

Thukral & Tagra 致力於新形式的公眾參與,試圖擴大藝術能作用的範疇,並透過他們的資料庫和出版物,著重探討虛擬情境下藝術實踐的功能。他們的創作突破特定媒介限制,並在沉浸式環境裡打造多模態感官和敘事。Thukral & Tagra 近期透過 Pollinator.io 跨領域實驗室的計畫,希望將他們的實踐方式確立為一種教學法,旨在培育具包容性的學習生態系統,藉由「異花授粉」的交流模式達成知識共享。

2004年,Mriganka Madhukaillya 和 Sonal Jain 在印度成立 Desire Machine Collective。 他們以空間和時間作為出發,創作主題特別關注人類居住、自然環境和佔領議題。他們的電影《殘渣》(Residue)表達了人為建構的符號永遠無法被複製或記憶,並反映出物質與記憶之間的關係。

班加羅爾藝術家 Raghava KK 是將科技運用至藝術創作的先鋒之一,他近期和經營青少年社群的品牌 Under25 合作,首次在 Instagram 公開名為《Eye Candy》的表演作品。2020 年,他和 Harshit Agrawal 共同創作的 AI 作品在義大利 Artissima 藝術博覽會展出,該作品邀請群眾畫出男人和女人,之後這些繪畫被輸入 AI,最後完成一件探討性別認同的裝置作品。Raghava KK 認為 AI 是一種先進的工具,它將可能模糊現實與數位世界的界線。Raghava KK 也熱衷研究將生物駭客技術用於藝術創作之中。

Harshit Agrawal 是 AI、新媒體藝術家,他夠過藝術實踐,探索「人機創造連續體」——融合人與機器的創意媒介,經常使用機器和演算法完成視覺創作。Harshit 認為 AI 正在質疑人類許多先入為主的觀念,他的創作藉由數據反映社會真實樣貌而非個人的解讀,同時他也以人類藝術家作為主導,強調這些作品的創作者是人類而非 AI, 創作意圖也是源自於藝術家而非 AI。

Karan Kalra 是一名跨領域視覺藝術家,深受許多年輕藝術家推崇,他對星際空間十分著迷,創作深受科幻小說影響。同時他也以現實世界作為視覺元素,透過創作述說德里的故事。Ravi Koranga 是另一位來自班加羅爾的年輕藝術家,藉由探索帶有諷刺性的有趣圖像來審視真實生活中的經歷。最後一位是來自烏杜皮的建築師和藝術家 Shreya Daffney,他以數位模擬圖像呈現在地人物和文化樣貌。

在這些新媒體作品中,藝術家運用科技產出視覺圖像,體現出社會、政治、文化、經濟和哲學層面的概念及關係,他們模擬舊媒體中的既有圖像,並置換這些圖像原本代表的含義,利用新科技介面,模擬身體在社會政治及文化脈絡下的傳統概念。這些作品將虛擬性呈現為一種潛在的現實,即這個世界潛藏著不曾停歇的變化及改革。

作品中的既有視覺圖像,就如同漂浮在幻想裡的虛擬世界的記憶,強調感知、認知與回應等具體行為的物質性不斷持續,並且是必要的。此外,科技創造出的物件或圖像所產生的視覺性,則提供了新的虛擬空間和圖像角度。

透過不同的科技和技術,這些作品將神話、社會政治和歷史數據融入千變萬化的虛擬空間,主張虛擬現實能實現一個前所未有的嶄新時代,其中蘊含過去無從想像的可能性和未來。它將改變我們對空間、身體、時間、未來性、主體性和全球連通性的概念,也將改變在日常生活、溝通交流、電視電影裡,以及正在擴展中並徹底去分類化的藝術實踐裡可見的數位化、控制論、人機合體的虛擬存在,甚至將透過這些模擬,創造出新的文本性和視覺性。

儘管這些作品提出心智從藝術家與觀者的主體能動性的表演性身體脫離,它仍創造出將神話記憶、歷史記憶、個人詮釋具體化的身體視覺性。後人類論述提到情報/信息似乎已經「失去了它們的身體」,並且變得去物質化、去具體化,機器被想像成自人類脫離的最終解放以及屬於後人類的新穎事物。但這些藝術作品發出提問:新媒體藝術作品有沒有可能擺脫具體的行為展現(enactiment)?這些新媒體藝術作品將身體的視覺性以指示性、神話性、歷史性的圖像展現,在虛擬世界的外觀之下,確實存在著物質生產、勞動、資本、存在於時空之中的生物體工作的痕跡。

FULL TEXT
  • 1
    Posthuman Body and Visuality

    Art history studies are predicated on the idea that seeing is a physical act of vision and visuality. According to some, the scopic regime equated seeing with knowing. It eventually became linked to the concepts of visibility, identity, and the debate surrounding gaze. Later, the discussion surrounding the representation of various visuality concepts included Derrida's concept of the "Right to see." These ideas destroyed the aspect of seeing the truth. Deconstructing the pictures produced as a result of visual experiences helped to develop the discourse. Despite being equally visual-centric, this modern discourse went beyond the heroic visualisation of history to create visuality discourse.

    The proliferation of digital media transformed the relationship between the object's materiality and its representation. Through interactivity, non-linearity, immateriality, new media art challenges the object-centred understanding of art. New Media art has explored the agency of material objects and the particularities of digital media and questioned the representations' notions. It represents a simulated visuality of the body.

    New Media art takes further into representations, as it is no longer needed to keep the world in the "mind's eye" but build it walk through it and manipulate it. Griselda Pollock mentions it as a shift from reproducibility to producibility. ( Antony Bryant and Griselda Pollock) 1 Thus it addresses digital media as an aesthetic experience. The influence of information in its materiality and how its physical features are mobilised as resources to produce meaning are also documented in new media artworks, which are embodied art forms. Art serves as a bridge between the human body, other works of art, and various mediums in this way. Do human projections and the mystification of computer functioning result in the creation of cultural imagery? Does digital subjectivity possess human-like intentions, objectives, and tactics? How does computational mediation in visual storytelling reframe embodied memories and posthuman realities through the visuality of the body?

    New media technologies rapidly altered the body's predominant visuality in visual culture and the visual arts. It demonstrated how the body simultaneously functions as a site of affect and a source of resistance to the notion of postmodernism's universal standards. The imitation of the natural immortal body is what is meant by representations of the body in pre-modern and contemporary contexts, which can have a variety of metaphorical connotations that are influenced by period, style, and frame. Later, these were called into question by the ideas of the fragmented body and gaze. The concept of the body in digital and virtual media emphasises how the gaze of others influences how one observes oneself and how one's body is being monitored.

    The widespread presence of visual media offers views of the world in visuals; they render the world in visual terms. These renderings are not innocent, but they interpret the world, present a world view, and represent it. The theoretical positions analyse and contextualise the image's meaning, body, vision, and visuality. Vision is what the human eye is physiologically capable of seeing, and visuality refers to how vision is constructed in various ways: 'how we see, how we are able, allowed, or made to see, and how we see this seeing and the unseeing therein' (Foster; Foster). Visuality and other terms of scopic regime refer to the ways in which what is seen and how it is seen are culturally constructed.

    In the book Vision and Visuality, Hal Foster states that vision suggests sight as a physical operation, and visuality suggests sight as a social fact. The two are not opposed to nature to culture: vision is social and historical, and visuality involves the body and the psyche.

    While discussing the pictorial shift, WJ T Mitchell calls these new visual images as a post linguistic, post semiotic rediscovery of the picture as a complex interplay between visuality, apparatus, institutions, discourse, bodies, and figurality. It is the realisation that 'spectatorship' that is, the look, the gaze, the glance, the practices of observation, surveillance and visual pleasure, maybe as serious a problem as various forms of 'reading' that is decipherment, decoding, interpretation, etc. and that visual experience or 'visual literacy' might not be entirely explicable on the model of textuality.

    The visual cultural studies have observed that the visuality and the visual technology mediations are of a larger social project in which the subjectivity of individuals is reconfiguring. As the British art historian Norman Bryson (1988) writes, "Between subject and the world is inserted the entire sum of discourses which make up visuality, that cultural construct, and make visuality different from vision, the notion of unmediated visual experience". Thus, the visuality is configured through the discourses that would capture the vision and the technologies to employ it. This reconfiguration enables the person/ artist to develop different tools for the reception and transmission of other expressions and experiences. This results in simulation of reality, spaces and subjectivity. However, as meaning is negotiated between and across subjects through language, it is understood as a negotiated domain, in flux and contingent on social and personal investments and contextsThus the interpretation itself is worked out as performance between artists and spectators.

    Visuality constructed through different technologies like television, films, print media became a significant concern of scholars. Through their writings, scholars discussed the impact of external visual technologies on the socio-cultural level and a total reconfiguration of the interiority of persons. This reconfiguration necessitates the individual to develop different modalities to mediate through a new visual culture which may be seen as a product of media technologies.

    With the advent of new media, the dominance of visual media over the oral or textual media, the growing tendency to visualise things that are not in themselves visible is getting prominent and becoming one of the most striking features of the new visual culture. Although imaging or visualising remains the primary modality for configuring ideas, with the new technologies and cultural practices, the whole process of visuality acquire a new meaning. With the development of digital technology, visuality is seen as a practice of giving the raw, mathematical sequences of code in databases with anthropologically and culturally accepted forms that are like psychology, concepts of perception, and visual semiotics, thus relating them to familiar elements of the traditional visual culture like cinema, television, what Manovich termed as 'new visual environment'. This aspect raises questions about the concept of the body and related visuality.

    The computerisation of culture not only leads to the emergence of new cultural forms such as computer games and virtual worlds; it redefines existing ones such as photography and cinema. Analogue image-making uses specific methods of reproducing an image of something external to it but has also been theorised to contain through its doubly indexical function of connection and indication. Trinh T. Minh-ha, while discussing —' the digital film event' to create a practice within which to inscribe its own, critical self-reflexivity about its specific modes of producing imagery, forms of proposed spectatorship and, crucially, relations to time through the specificity of digital imaging. Classic film-theorising about cinema—the moving image—as an apparatus reminds us that cinema offers but an illusion of movement. Stills, still photographic images, run through the recording camera or projector's 'gate' at the rate of twenty-four frames per second to reproduce the effect of human movement. However, there is no such thing as a still image, no punctual moment in digital cinema. There is only a consistent process of becoming based on the binary sequencing of zeros and ones that creates a constant relay of appearing and vanishing, of presence and absence.

    As the discourse on visual technologies, practices, and New Media Art is in constant flux, the understanding of New Media Art and its affiliated genres are constantly shifting, creating a question regarding the aesthetical possibilities and their impact on the visuality of the body.

    New Media art projects incorporate the new technologies, refer to the scientific and industrial research, and recontextualise them in art history, socio-political and cultural milieu. This one can observe in the works of artists like Jeffrey Shaw, Mona Hatoum, Cao Fei, Hans Hacke, Jenny Holzer, and Hu Jeiming, as they bring in their political concerns and socio-cultural issues.

    The involvement of new technologies and art practices affected New Media art's aesthetical and compositional aspects. Like the new avant-garde of the 1920s, New Media art also uses appropriation as a creative tool. New media technologies such as the web and file-sharing networks gave artists easy access to found images, sounds, texts, and other media.

    This hyper abundance of source material, combined with the ubiquitous "copy" and "paste" features of computer software, further eroded the notion that creating something from scratch is better than borrowing it. It challenged the modern concept of originality, and appropriation became an increasingly crucial artistic strategy.

    Many New Media artists consciously reflect art history in their work, reinterpreting or updating projects from the 1960s and 1970s in the context of a new technological environment. MTAA's OnKawaraUpdate (2001), for example, uses a software program to mimic the concept and aesthetic of Conceptual artist On Kawara's date paintings. In Empire 24/7, Wolfgang Staehle uses a live Web camera projection to remake Andy Warhol's Empire, an eight-hour-long film of the Empire State Building.

    01.Antony Bryant and Griselda Pollock. Digital and Other Virtualities: Renegotiating the image. New York: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010.
  • 2
    John F. Simon, Jr. revisits Paul Klee's experimental use of the Cartesian grid in Every Icon. And Jennifer and Kevin McCoy use databases to reinterpret films in such projects as 201: A Space Algorithm, their version of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

    Along with a penchant for collaboration and a marked tendency to appropriate rather than to create from scratch, this media-archaeological approach to art-making exemplifies the attenuation of authorial originality in New Media art. (Tribe 2009)

    New Media art applies conventional artistic and digital tools to represent. New media art includes multimedia artwork through these tools by mixing text, video, photographs, graphics, drawings, and sound. Moreover, new media technologies have also made it possible to create different versions of the same art projects, such as interactive, non-interactive, video or web versions. This breaks down the link between the identity of an art object with its medium. Thus, the old tradition of identifying distinct art practices is substituted with new technologies based on the materials used.

    New Media art continues appropriating the concept of Parody, Montaging and the idea that a complex visual expression can be constructed from simple visual elements whose psychological effects are known from the new avant-garde movements of the 1920s. A theory of visual meaning and emotional impact grounded in Gestalt psychology has become the technological basis of all communication. A digital image consists of pixels, making it possible to generate images automatically and manipulate them in numerous ways and, through compression techniques, transmit them more economically.

    New Media Art uses both types of montaging techniques introduced by the Constructivist movement in the 1920s. These are temporal montage and montage within a shot. In the temporal montage, images of different realities follow each other in time, while in montage within the shot, these different realities co-exist on the screen. The new media art through hypermedia, databases, search engines, data mining, image processing, visualisation, simulation access, and manipulating existing images similar to montaging takes further into representations, as it is no longer needed to keep the world in the "mind's eye" but build it walk through it and manipulate it. Thus it addresses digital media as an aesthetic experience. It furnishes a rich resource for encountering the digital age anew through various textual and sensory forms intrinsic to and critically engaged with digital technologies and culture

    The Renaissance period metaphor of the window as a conical concept of vision persists in the digital age, most obviously in the title of Microsoft's famous operating system, Windows. But, besides the names, there is no similarity in both concepts. The digital window is very different from the windows of the Renaissance perspective or the cinema screen. The Renaissance window metaphor is a tool to look through, whereas the digital window concept is to look at.

    The New Media art aesthetics is not concerned with seeing or representing the world in new ways but rather with accessing and using previously accumulated media.

    In this respect, Lev Manovich terms new media as post-media or meta-media, as it uses old media as its primary material. It is the new computer-based media access, generation, manipulation, and analysis technique. Forms remain the same, but how these forms are used changes radically. Thus develop a discourse on what is real and ideal in image-making and the historiography of the body in art.

    New Media art projects explore the performative aspect of the media and challenge the inherited understandings of the body's place in a technological culture. For instance, Australian artist Stelarc investigated the boundaries of the human/machine interaction in his works Stomach Sculpture (1993) and Ping Body An Internet Actuated and Uploaded Performance (1996) by connecting his body to various media, the web, and other technologies. He continues his research into the posthuman body with the Ping Body by connecting his neuromuscular system to the internet's pulse of information. Pings act as the sonar of the internet, sending out signals and returning with the reaction time between nearby and far-flung nodes. Projects like this in new media art change the idea of the body.

    As humans discover ways to upload their minds into computers and abandon their bodies, Hans Moravec refers to this as the "postbiological" future, where the assumption that the material embodiment has always served to define the bounds of the human would become optional (Hayles). Katherine Hayle further discusses the evolution of new and more advanced posthumans. She claims that a particular facet of posthuman rhetoric, insofar as it equated the self with the mind and viewed the body as only a vehicle for the mind's activities, continues to reenact the disembodiment that was a vital component of the liberal tradition. Zizek also discusses in similar terms while writing about Deleuzian concept virtual body. He relates it to the art practice of Jackson Pollock, where the disembodied pure impersonal, unconscious energy is transformed in his artworks (Zizek).

    These authors discuss how the contrast between embodiment and disembodiment has fractured into more complex and varied formations. So a binary view that juxtaposes disembodied information with an embodied human life world is no longer sufficient to account for these complexities.

    Katherine Hayle stresses that the repositioning of materiality is distinct from physicality and re-envisioning the material basis for hybrid texts and subjectivities (Hayles). She also reiterates that the binary opposition between embodiment and information engaging with the materiality of literary texts broadens and deepens ideas into computation and textuality. Materiality for her is an emergent property created through dynamic interactions between physical characteristics and signifying strategies.

    She positions materiality as a junction between physical reality and human intention. Thus she relates Mother Nature with Motherboard. Nature, seen in earlier times as the source of human behaviour and physical reality, is now replaced by the Universal Computer.

    New Media art discourse concentrates on how mystification of actual computer operation and anthropomorphic projections create a cultural Imaginary in which digital subjects are understood as autonomous creatures imbued with human-like motives, goals, and strategies. Thus, the "digital subjects" bring forth a dialectical positioning of humans and artificial creatures in relation to each other and hybrid subjectivity.

    Making, storing, and transmitting are related to the information and the body of the subject and text. As Stelarc's work refers to the artworks and artists' subjectivity, digital subjects are articulated by analysing the effects of these modalities on their bodies. As an embodied art form, New media artworks register the impact of information in its materiality and how its physical characteristics are mobilised as resources to create meaning. This way, artwork intermediates between body, artwork and different forms of media.
  • 3
    New Media Art in India
    In India, the story of new media art is only a couple of decades old. In the early 1990s, Indian artists started exploring other ephemeral art practices like installations, performance art, video art, and other digital image-making art practices. Johan Pijnappel, a Dutch art historian, specialising in new media art in Asia, relates the globalisation and religious hyper-nationalism to the Indian artists need to move beyond the painted image to reach out to a larger audience. The emerging technoscape of the 1990s and its associated social milieu influenced artists who chose to work with new media. 

    In 1990s, Indian new media artists worked between media, at interfaces between shadow installations and video (Nalini Malani), video and sculpture (Vivan Sundaram and Sheba Chhachhi), video animation (Navjot and Manjunath Kamath), the internet and painting (Baiju Parthan), painting and video (Ranbir Kaleka), and in performance-based video art and installations (Subodh Gupta, Shilpa Gupta, Kiran Subbaiah and Tejal Shah). Moreover, in 1990s the artists groups like Raqs media collective, Thukral and Tagra and Desire Machine extended these new media art practices to the digital and virtual explorations.

    Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta) based in New Delhi, founded in 1992. It has been highly visible on the international art scene for two decades. They create art and films, curate exhibitions, edit books, stage events, collaborate with architects, computer programmers, writers and theatre directors, and discover processes that deeply impact India's contemporary culture. Raqs follows its self-declared imperative of 'kinetic contemplation' to produce an in terms of the forms and methods it deploys even as it achieves a consistency of speculative procedures.

    Raqs Media Collective collaborates to produce intelligent, poignant works, including multimedia installations, individual sculptures, online projects, and performances. These artworks critically investigate the issues related to identity, urban development, modernisation, and forms of power. Their work is founded on the concept of "raqs," the state of kinetic contemplation achieved by Whirling Dervishes. Lost New Shoes (2005), a multimedia installation centred around a pile of 100 pairs of new shoes as metonyms for the human beings who might have worn them and their precarious journeys through life. 

    Thukral & Tagra work on new formats of public engagement and attempt to expand the scope of what art can do, further emphasising what the practice can do in a virtual context through their archives and publications. They break out of the mediated-disciplinary world create multi-modal sensory and storytelling in immersive environments.

    Their earlier work dealt with tropes of migration, mythological narratives, symbols of Indian identity, and motifs of a globally manifested consumer culture that enliven a largely pedantic and static area of cultural material. Recently, they sought to identify the practice as pedagogy through their collaborative Pollinator.io – Interdisciplinary lab, which cultivates an inclusive learning ecosystem that indexes to achieve knowledge sharing through cross-pollination. 

    Desire Machine Collective was established in India in 2004 by Mriganka Madhukaillya and Sonal Jain. They create films, video, photography, and sound and multimedia installations that consider space and time, particularly human habitation, natural environments and their occupation. Their film Residue is a reflection on constructed signs that can never be replicated or remembered and the relationship between matter and memory. Close to the vision of an abandoned temple or a monument in ruins, here, nature and industry intermingle. Without an explicitly documentary statement, Residue is an experimental film, a stroll through a dream world incorporating both the universe of the mechanical, human and natural as when a machine morphs into a butterfly, or power meters indicate depleted figures. 

    Periferry is Desire Machine Collective's foray into the notion of space and takes the modes of working with collaborative and hybrid practices further. It has the scope of being more participatory and inclusive of multiplicities than a conventional studio space. It pushes for experimentation and extends the limits of our practice as well as other practitioners. It was the creation of a space for experimentation and cross-disciplinary practices. It also occupies a liminal space and in-between—land and water, urban and rural.It draws from Manuel Castells, who describes the modern world as a 'space of flows—flows of people, capital, information, technology, images, sounds and symbols.' 

    Bengaluru-based Raghava KK, another flag bearer of tech-infused art, recently debuted on the' gram with a performance piece titled Eye Candy, made in collaboration with youth brand Under25. The artist-designer, who has used iPads and robots to create art in the past, also curated India's first AI art show in 2018, with his brother and economist Karthik Kalyanaraman. In 2020 he is presented an AI artwork in collaboration with artist Harshit Agrawal at Italy's contemporary art fair, Artissima . For this, they crowdsourced line figures of males and females. Then these drawings were fed to the AI and what we get are installations that create a discourse about gender identities. Raghava KK considers AI a new transcendence tool, which can potentially blur the binaries between the physical and digital. Raghava is keen to understand how biohacking can be used in art creation.

    Raghava has also experimented with EEG headsets that use brain waves to bring new, dynamic perspectives into his work. His works include Mona Lisa 2.0, whose face changes based on Raghava's mood; a depiction of Gandhi that varies based on whether you agree or disagree with him; a red artwork that uses brainwaves to see every shade between red and blue; and Venus 2.0, who you can choose to cover up or uncensored. 

    Harshit Agrawal is an artificial intelligence and new media artist. He explores what he calls 'human-machine creativity continuum'- the melding of human and machine creative agency through his practice. He uses machines and algorithms and often creates them. He believes that AI is challenging us to question many of our preconceived notions, creating art with data that reflects societal perceptions in their true essence rather than an individual reading of it. 

    He has worked with AI art since its inception in 2015. His work has been nominated twice for the top tech art prize, the 'Lumen', and he was the only Indian artist at the first global group exhibition of AI art at a contemporary gallery in 2018. Initial examples of AI art were mainly to create hauntingly familiar yet alien forms. As a visual artist working with AI, he works with a lot of images as data that the machine trains on and then produces new images that represent that data set. The process is obviously much more involved in terms of how this artist created and it is in the training process that a lot of subtle variations lie where the craft of the human artist comes into play and also in terms of what data set, they choose to work with and how they collect the data set. In this new form of art, he experiments with various media via visual, sculptural, text-based AI creation. 
  • 4
    As an artist, he looks at technology beyond its transactional, efficiency and economic purposes to its emotional, relationship perspective that we as humans need to build with it. He relates new media artworks to the human artist. He stresses that the artist in these artworks is a human being, not an AI. The intentionality in artworks is due to the artist not because of AI. As he puts in an interview, "I tell the AI what it needs to train on, and I decide how it trains on the data that I set to train on. I define the process exactly and I ultimately choose the outputs from AI that I call art". 

    He mentions that the AI artist governs the whole process; the artist visualises the outcome and embraces the machine's influence and training process. Whether to include the influences or not are also the artist's choice, similar to the traditional painting on canvas. Artist chooses data sets, themes, and visual aspects of training that they want to work with like any visual artist. The difference is that AI has a more mysterious nature of influence because the neural network, which is the training process, has millions of parameters humans cannot get to the bottom of every bit of it. So that level of abstraction results in a slightly more organic influence by the machine. 

    Many young artists like Karan Kalra, a Delhi-based multidisciplinary visual artist, heavily influenced by science fiction in my work, have a deep-seated fascination for interstellar space. He also visualises the embodied world in his works and tells stories about Delhi. Ravi Koranga is another young artist from Bangalore who explores satirical and fun-loving images to explore real-life experiences. Finally, udupi-based architect and artist Shreya Daffney represent the local people and culture through the digitalised simulated images. 

    In these new media artworks, artists have visualised technologies that embody social, political, cultural, economic and philosophical ideas and relationships. They simulate the existing images in old media and displace the fixed meanings of the images. Their works simulate the traditional concept of the body in a socio-political and cultural context with the new technological interface. They present virtuality as a potential actuality that indicates the constant movement of becoming, of transformative potentiality in the world.

    These artworks incorporate existing visual images as memories floating in the virtual world of fantasies. They stress that the materiality of the embodied activities of perception, cognition and response continues and are necessary. Furthermore, the virtuality of the objects or images created by technologies offers new virtual space and imagery degrees. Therefore, the issues like virtual subjects and virtual gaze become a primary concern when studying these artworks. It suggests that these are essentially sociological and historical dimensions: there is a need to analyse both the social and economic conditions of the technological and cultural changes produced by digitalisation, the internet, simulation and globalisation of communication and information systems, not to mention their cultural register and deployment. 

    These artworks incorporate the mythical, socio-political and historical data in an ever-changing virtual space created through various technological possibilities. They advocate virtual reality promises the realisation of a radically new era, pregnant with possibilities and futures hitherto unimagined. It transformed notions of space, the body, time, futurity, subjectivity and global connectivity, the digital, cybernetic, cyborgian virtualities that play in daily life and communication, in film and television, in expanded and thoroughly de-categorised art practices. Moreover, they create new textualities and visualities through these simulations. 

    Although these artworks propound the idea of mind separated from the performative body of the subjective agency of the artist and viewer, it creates a visuality of the body that has embodied mythical memory, historical memory, and personal interpretations. The posthuman discourse propounds that the intelligence/information appear to have 'lost their bodies'—become dematerialised and disembodied. Machines are imagined as the final liberation from the human and for the novelty of the posthuman. But these artworks raise questions: Is it possible to dispose of embodied enactment in new media artworks? These new media artworks represent the visuality of body is an indexical, mythical and historical image. Behind the surface of virtual worlds lie very concrete processes of material production, labour, capital, and work by grounded beings in space and time.

    The majority of these new media artists are selling their artworks as NFT. The October sale of La Petite Mort (from The Orgasm Project) for $94,500 at the Sotheby's-Burning Man Project auction, the highest price paid up to that point for a non-fungible token by an Indian artist, was a much-discussed event in the 2021 calendar for the Indian art industry. The NFT was a "phygital" work of art produced by Raghava KK in association with Ben Tritt, the creator of a technology-based art production company, Harshit Agrawal, a fellow artist, and Abhijeet Satani, a researcher in neuroscience. The sold token served as ownership proof for a physical oil on canvas created by a 3D painting robot and a digital representation of Raghava's orgasmic brain activity.

    In March 2021, after the sale of an artwork by the artist Beeple (real name Mike Winkelmann) for $69 million by the auction house Christie's caused a stir by ranking as the third most expensive piece by a living artist, the general public became aware of the phrase NFT. Some hailed it as a turning point in art history, while others decried it as the demise of creative value. Crypto-art is comparable to high art in that it is theoretically a unique item that another cannot substitute. This contrasts with cryptocurrency, which, like conventional money, is fungible (i.e., any one unit can be traded for any other). A non-fungible token, also known as an NFT, or a certificate proving ownership of a piece of cryptographic art, resides as a code in a blockchain (the most popular, including in India, is Ethereum and, to a lesser extent, Polygon).

    The NFT art market in India, like its share in the traditional global art market, is still tiny and tough to track because there is insufficient data. However, the supporters of NFT see this as a democratic platform; they believe that more democratic participation is promised by the decentralisation of art production and distribution offered by blockchain, allowing more artists to monetise their work without having to deal with its galleries and merchants. They refer that where galleries charge 40%, but these blockchains only charge 2-5%. On the other hand, the critics point out the problems related to fluctuating charges and flooded platforms with copies. They also point out that it is not yet regularised in India. 

    Even if it’s a positive movement, all these developments also need to be watched from the local economic and social imbalances in which artists work. For example, questions need to be asked how many artists in India have access to Web3? How many young Indian artists are skilled in handling the digitalised visual language?