ICC Report


The Second
--Time Based Art from the Netherlands
Opening Symposium

November 14, 1998
ICC 5th Floor Lobby
The opening symposium
From the left: SAKURAI Hiroya,
Rene COELHO, Peter BOGERS, and Kees AAFJES.

Throughout the opening symposium for The Second by MonteVideo/TBA (Netherlands Media Art Institute), a continuing theme was how very human the work it exhibits is. The art critic KANAZAWA Takeshi, for example, pointed out that many of the works included clearly communicate the artists' naked feelings and intentions. The ICC Deputy Director/Chief Curator NAKAMURA Keiji, the moderator, noted that The Second is low tech but, in contrast to the general run of media art exhibitions, has a human warmth and an eye for the human landscape that has much in common with the 17th century Dutch still life and genre painting tradition. One thinks of the work of VERMEER. In his view, echoes of memento mori resonate throughout both.

MonteVideo/TBA began as an attempt by Rene COELHO, acting on his disappointment with television after two decades of working in the media, to bring the human factor into the technology. At the start of the symposium, COELHO raised precisely that issue, saying, "Artists run the risk of losing meaningful content and connections with the general viewing public when they hare after the very latest technology." He stressed that his view of media art operates on a different dimension from the pursuit of high technology.

Another central theme in the wide-ranging discussion was defining new arts that differ from those of the past in such qualities as multiplicity, reproducibility, and interactivity that result from advances in technology. Further issues raised included the conservation of media art and the stances of artists, curators, and facilities with respect to conservation; historical restrictions on materials with the advance of technology and hardware and software problems; and public aid to art in the Netherlands and its relationship to the quality; and subject matter of the work. Other key points the participants discussed include the environment of a work that enfolds the viewer in interactive art, materiality and concepts, changes in art education due to media art, the coexistence and intersections between conventional art and media art, and the relationship between technology-induced homogeneity of expression and potential for originality.

The proceedings may be summarized by a statement from COELHO: "If we take it that media art is, as in the early period of video art, working for recognition as one medium within contemporary art, the stage in which it would be satisfied to be pigeonholed as "media art" is already over. Increasingly diverse media are being incorporated into contemporary art in general; we are making a transition to a stage in which the artist chooses the medium that best meets his or her needs."

While that observation may seem self-evident, given the state of contemporary art in Europe and America, the fact it comes from COELHO who has led MonteVideo, a media art institute, for twenty years gives it extra weight.

Rene COELHO (guest curator)
KANAZAWA Takeshi (art critic)
Bert SCHUTTER (exhibiting artist)
Peter BOGERS (exhibiting artist)
Kees AAFJES (exhibiting artist)
and SAKURAI Hiroya (artist)
NAKAMURA Keiji (Deputy Director/Chief Curator of the ICC)


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