Art at the Threshold of the Information Revolution (1961–1978)
408 pp., 7 x 9 in, 71 b&w illus.
- Published: November 1, 2022
- Published: June 10, 2016
- Published: June 10, 2016
An account of a major international art movement originating in the former Yugoslavia in the 1960s, which anticipated key aspects of information aesthetics.
New Tendencies, a nonaligned modernist art movement, emerged in the early 1960s in the former Yugoslavia, a nonaligned country. It represented a new sensibility, rejecting both Abstract Expressionism and socialist realism in an attempt to formulate an art adequate to the age of advanced mass production. In this book, Armin Medosch examines the development of New Tendencies as a major international art movement in the context of social, political, and technological history. Doing so, he traces concurrent paradigm shifts: the change from Fordism (the political economy of mass production and consumption) to the information society, and the change from postwar modernism to dematerialized postmodern art practices.
Medosch explains that New Tendencies, rather than opposing the forces of technology as most artists and intellectuals of the time did, imagined the rapid advance of technology to be a springboard into a future beyond alienation and oppression. Works by New Tendencies cast the viewer as coproducer, abolishing the idea of artist as creative genius and replacing it with the notion of the visual researcher. In 1968 and 1969, the group actively turned to the computer as a medium of visual research, anticipating new media and digital art.
Medosch discusses modernization in then-Yugoslavia and other nations on the periphery; looks in detail at New Tendencies' five major exhibitions in Zagreb (the capital of Croatia); and considers such topics as the group's relation to science, the changing relationship of manual and intellectual labor, New Tendencies in the international art market, their engagement with computer art, and the group's eventual eclipse by other “new art practices” including conceptualism, land art, and arte povera. Numerous illustrations document New Tendencies' works and exhibitions.
Armin Medosch's New Tendencies develops a 'deep archeology' of technological revolution in Croatian, Yugoslavian, and International neo-avant-garde in the 1960s and 1970s. This book is an analytical guide to the media, conceptual, and political transformation of late modernist epistemology of art. The author comparatively discusses relations between the socialist and western techno-utopian and, at the same time, critical artistic projects. His epistemology of art offers mapping of scientific, electronic, proto-cybernetic, computers oriented and conceptually developed artistic research between techno-positivism and techno-criticism, between neoconstructivism and conceptual art.
Miško Šuvaković, Professor of Art Theory and Dean of Faculty for Media and Communications, Belgrade; coeditor of Impossible Histories: Historic Avant-Gardes, Neo-Avant-Gardes, and Post-Avant-Gardes in Yugoslavia, 1918–1991
This book brings much needed attention to the importance of New Tendencies, the groundbreaking art movement that emerged in the former Yugoslavia in the 1960s. Carefully researched and deeply insightful, Medosch's overview illustrates that New Tendencies was much more than a highly relevant exhibition series: a playing field for exploring key ideas of the information revolution, from cybernetic control systems and networked communication to information aesthetics and digital art as visual research. A must read for anyone interested in the evolution of contemporary digital art and its complex technological and socio-political histories.
Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum, Associate Professor, School of Media Studies, The New School