Automation, Cybernation and the Art of New Tendencies (1961-1973)
Medosch, Armin. 2012. Automation, Cybernation and the Art of New Tendencies (1961-1973). Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]
Abstract or Description
My research investigates exhibitions as sites of research and appraises the possibilities and contradictions of a progressive and socially engaged media art practice. The international art movement New Tendencies (NT) (1961-1973) provides the material evidence through its exhibitions, symposia, artworks, catalogues, newsletters and artist's statements. The basic methodological assumption behind my research is that new insights are gained by questioning the various interdependencies between NT and historical change.
NT was searching for a synthesis between socialist emancipation and artistic modernism by proposing to replace the notion of art with visual research. The project emerged in Zagreb, capital of Croatia which was then part of Yugoslavia, a Socialist nation which did not belong to the Eastern bloc and experimented with market Socialism combined with social self-management and self-government. Yugoslavia's unique role between the hegemonic power blocs made it possible that an international, humanistic, and progressive art movement could emerge from its territory.
With every exhibition and conference NT articulated its artistic position and set itself into relation with the respective techno-economic paradigm. NT began during the height of Fordism, continued during Fordism's moment of crisis in 1968, and ended when a new paradigm – informational capitalism – started to develop from within the old one. In this historical context, my hypothesis is that NT's exploration of participatory art stands in direct relation to the rise of automation and cybernation in society. A further layer of inquiry is the historically changing relationship between manual and intellectual labour and how art addresses it.
By contextualising NT my research contributes a new dimension to the history of media art. Through the chosen methodology, a new understanding is gained not only of this important art movement but of the general dynamics of media art in the second half of the 20th century.