An art-historical reassessment of information-based art and exhibition curation, from 1960s conceptualism to current digital and network-based practices.
This anthology provides the first art-historical reassessment of information-based art in relation to data structures and exhibition curation. It examines such landmark exhibitions as “Information” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970, and the equally influential “Les Immatériaux,” initiated by the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 1984. It reexamines work by artists of the 1960s to early 1980s, from Les Levine and N. E. Thing Co. to General Idea and Jenny Holzer, whose prescient grasp of information's significance resonates today. It also reinscribes into the narrative of art history technologically critical artworks that for years have circulated within new media festivals rather than in galleries.
While information science draws distinctions between “information,” signals, and data, artists from the 1960s to the present have questioned the validity and value of such boundaries. Artists have investigated information's materiality, in signs, records, and traces; its immateriality, in hidden codes, structures, and flows; its embodiment, in instructions, social interaction, and political agency; its overload, or uncontrollable excess, challenging utopian notions of networked society; its potential for misinformation and disinformation, subliminally altering our perceptions; and its post-digital unruliness, unsettling fixed notions of history and place.
Artists surveyed include David Askevold, Iain Baxter, Guy Bleus, Heath Bunting, CAMP (Shaina Anand & Ashok Sukumaran), Ami Clarke, Richard Cochrane, Rod Dickinson, Hans Haacke, Graham Harwood, Jenny Holzer, Joseph Kosuth, Christine Kozlov, Steve Lambert and the Yes Men, Oliver Laric, Les Levine, László Moholy-Nagy, Muntadas, Erhan Muratoglu, Raqs Media Collective, Erica Scourti, Stelarc, Thomson & Craighead, Angie Waller, Stephen Willats, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Elizabeth Vander Zaag
Writers include James Bridle, Matthew Fuller, Francesca Gallo, Antony Hudek, Eduardo Kac, Friedrich Kittler, Arthur and Marielouise Kroker, Scott Lash, Alessandro Ludovico, Jean-François Lyotard, Charu Maithani, Suhail Malik, Armin Medosch, Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi, Craig Saper, Jorinde Seijdel, Tom Sherman, Felix Stalder, McKenzie Wark, Benjamin Weil
Sarah Cook is a curator and researcher working at the intersection of art, digital and electronic media, and science. In 2019 she curated the exhibition, “24/7: A Wake-up Call for our Non-stop World” at Somerset House, London. She is Professor of Museum Studies in Information Studies at the University of Glasgow.
Information has been the central subject of media art long before the current 'big data' revolution. This book brings together a wide range of texts from both practitioners and theorists covering key artworks and positions about information, art and society from the late 1960s to the present.
Lev Manovich, Professor of Computer Science, Graduate Centre, City University of New York
Information is information is 'Information', and is, in the form of this book, actually really useful. More than a much needed compendium of ideas from artists and curators helping us to bridge a 1960s mindset with today's contemporary information-sharing environment, the practices gathered in Sarah Cook's anthology are themselves powerful tools to navigate a multiplicity of narratives and concepts in relation to art, media and the social fabric.
Rudolf Frieling, Curator of Media Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
With this comprehensive volume Sarah Cook deftly addresses the historical breadth and contemporary depth of information art in all its analogue and digital forms. Artists and critics have long been exploring communications technologies as medium and as message, while simultaneously tackling its political economy and effects. The texts herein, brilliantly woven together in non-linear fashion, demonstrate how artists working with information have intrepidly revisioned not only the subject/object relationship, but also the ontological shift of the object newly situated within the digital realm.
Caroline Langill, Associate Professor, New Media Art History/Cultural History, OCAD University, Toronto