Re-Thinking Artistic Knowledge Production (Heidelberg, 23-24 Mai 2013)


Symposium of the DFG-Network “Media of Collective Intelligence” in co-operation with the Cluster Professorship of Global Art History, Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context: The Dynamics of Transculturality”, Heidelberg University

The production of knowledge in artistic or aesthetic practices has recently been discussed in relation to scientific research. While contemporary art takes over scientific methods and practices, it still leaves the question open whether or not aesthetic practices should be judged differently from scientific experimentation and what exactly the outcome of artistic knowledge is. The aim of the symposium is to re-think aesthetic knowledge production from a new vantage point, focusing on the importance of distributed creativity and globally entangled media cultures.

The production of artistic knowledge in shared or even collective creative processes is a phenomenon that is often associated with the latest “global turn”. This turn is described as the spectacular rise of economic, socio-political and technological entanglements around the world since the end of the 1980s. Emblematic for this process was the rise of the World Wide Web that began to dominate what used to be diverging and not necessarily related mediascapes. However, shared knowledge production also has a long tradition in the arts and literature and can be discussed in relation to the much earlier rise of mass media such as printed books, film making or television. Yet, while researchers have been quick to note the accelerated circulations of goods, agents, and concepts that seem to easily cross national, geographic and cultural borders, which had been firmly established and often seemed impermeable during the Cold War era, scholars of art history, media studies and visual anthropology have only recently begun to suggest theoretical approaches that respond to the increased complexity of processes involved.

The symposium will 1) address media based processes of distributed creativity 2) discuss how the global turn has transformed practices of professional artists and creative amateurs alike who engage in what can be called transcultural mediascapes. Some of the key questions of the symposium are: Are there new ways of collectively producing and sharing artistic knowledge which would transcend earlier practices by which artist groups and artistic media were able to overcome the ideals of single authorship? Has the utopian potential of the web been realized (also in other creative media practices) with its promises of global interconnectivity, unbound participation and the idea that collectively produced knowledge results in more than the sum of individual contributions? Or do we see historical conflicts of (authentic) authorship, unequal power relations and cultural misunderstandings taking on a new look and becoming viral on a new, global scale?

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