On reflecting upon my time spent studying on the MRes course I have recognised a great many positive features that I have embraced fully: the course has offered opportunities to discuss and develop a greater theoretical base from which I can launch my research. Through these discussions I have gained greater confidence and I recognise that my skills in critical analysis have started to deepen.
The first term lecture series has introduced topics that have enabled me to focus and narrow down my research interests from both a wider theoretical stance, and a more subjective practice based position. With this in mind, Tim Collins’ excellent lecture illustrated that artists can have a role in working with large natural environments. His lecture prompted me to study weather as a system that could, at least in part, author artwork by creating interfaces between weather/system and artist. Prior to Tim’s presentation my work was concentrating on the technical aspects of a computer art practice with ambivalence for subject matter.
‘Interfacing’, and ‘authoring’ have been two tracts that I’ve looked at in detail, in particular how they apply to computer art. With reference to David Sweeny’s lecture I notice that computer art is, and has been for over 50 years, breaking with traditional pasts. The convergence of science and art represents opportunities for individual artists seeking new experiences. An emerging question in my research asks if convergence between the art world and the computer art world can really happen. I am interested in what characteristics a computer artwork must display to be counted as art – I have started to call this ‘authenticity’.
Returning to Dr. Sweeny, and in particular his introduction to Walter Benjamin’s ‘Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction’. Although Benjamin’s essay was published in the 1930’s and was concerned with the new media’s of photography and film, I have found it useful to look through the Benjamin lens at his recipe for aura, authenticity and the democratisation of art. His essay has helped me consider the difference between passive and active participation, human engagement and agency, and the relevance of these concepts in my research and practice based output. Are computers democratising art appreciation and production, or are we on a superhighway to nowhere? In addition, as Benjamin examined the art of film and photography, and measured them against his knowledge of authenticity, then I must investigate the relationship computer art has with authenticity. The question that has emerged then: Is a computer artwork a genuine work of art when measured against traditional art theories and practices.