InterCommunication No.15 1996


The Museum of the Third Kind


Japanese is here

Any discussion of the museum of the future must necessarily respond to the computer-mediated practices which define the canon of late 20th century art. While that seems to make sense in the context of a culture saturated with computer and communications systems, services and products it would be shortsighted for this perspective to disregard the impact that biotechnology, molecular engineering, and artificial life may exert on the arts over the next 25 years. The electronics revolution has moved from where it started in communications, to the digital computer, and now into the human brain. It is the new biological and cognitive sciences rather than computer science which lead the way. Indeed it could be argued that while the body and its presence, as an instrument of interactivity and a subject or virtuality, dominates muchcurrent discourse, it will be questions of the mind/brain, that is to say consciousness, which will come to dominate art practice in the future. And the future is all that museums can provide for. We know now that there is no absolute history, that the past is written in the present. We are irredeemably futures-oriented, and our museums as well as our institutions of learning must come to reflect that. One thing is certain. Nothing is given, neither the past, present nor future: all is constructed, and the site of that construction is our own consciousness. It is well recognised that consciousness is a field, and that telematic systems are a part of its evolution.
The Internet, as it develops, may indeed come to provide the infrastructure of a global mind. Thus in one respect the museum must be a part of that infrastructure, but it would be both foolish and shortsighted to think that the museum should be no more than that, that it should exist only in cyberspace, online or in a state of total virtuality. Electronic art is soon to become bio-electronic art, just as the primary element of its practice, the microchip is about to become the bio chip, and the digital computer gives way to the neural network. We are moving towards the spiritual in art in ways that Kandinsky could hardly have imagined, such that telepresence will be accompanied by teleprescience, and cybernetic systems will integrate with psychic systems, mutating into what could be called psybernetics.
This attitude is reflected in the remarks of Isao Karube, a leading-edge technologist of Tokyo University. "Now that people's attention is turning towards the inner world, in the developed countries where materialism has reached saturation point, the future of electronics depends on the problem of what sort of approach to take towards the brain, the neurons, and the mind." [*1]

No.15 Contents
Internet Edition Contents
Magazines & Books Page