1. Documents, Constellations, Prospects
        2. Contributions
        Dissident Knowledges, Conversation

        Art Beyond Spectatorship?

        Christopher Kulendran Thomas and Tom Trevatt

        19 March 2013

      1. Christopher Kulendran Thomas and Tom Trevatt, Art Beyond Spectatorship?, Conversation. Photo: Marcus Lieberenz/bildbuehne.de
      2. Who are we when we encounter art? This discursive presentation inquires into how the condition of the “contemporary”—the institutions, structures, discourses, and modes of circulation and distribution of these conditions that have emerged through late capitalism’s ideology of non-ideology—produces subjectivity, specifically with respect to contemporary art’s reinstatement and defense of the liberated individual. Living under the promise of political, economic, and ethical freedoms, this subjectivity relies upon, in part, notions of spectatorship that posit art’s purpose as the viewer’s interpretation. We investigate how the underlying logic of contemporary art interpellates the neoliberal subject, reinforcing individual privilege and perpetuating the fantasy of mankind’s dominance over the world. Furthermore, how does contemporary art’s biennializing global market distribute this form of spectatorship? As the economic rationale for the neoliberal project collapses, with its austerity program failing in Europe and super-economies growing through state intervention, and as we are reminded daily of impending environmental catastrophe, can our networked culture offer a model to rethink spectatorship beyond the liberal humanist foundations of contemporary art? The challenge for art, we claim, is to produce spectators as ecologically contingent material within the extended network of a non-anthropocentric logic that understands art as part of a continuum of both the organic and inorganic. This presentation addresses the network as a site of intersection between human and non-human materiality, asking what can distributed networked art produce beyond the finitude of interpretation, beyond spectatorship?