On the role of Media Theory at Universities of Applied Art, Technology and Art and Technology.
Universität für angewandte Kunst
Wien November 2015
Thank you for the chance to introduce my ideas. I’m a net artist, active in the field since 20 years, 16 of these years I am teaching new media designers at Merz Akademie. I’m also a co-author of the book Digital Folklore. Since the beginning of the century I collect, preserve and monumentalize the web culture of the 90’s. “What Does It Mean to Make a Web Page” is the doctoral thesis I work on right now.
As an artist, researcher and teacher I value user culture and medium specificity in both design and research, and as an every day routine. I see my work contributing to critical digital culture, media literacy and the development of languages and dialects of New Media.
But there are many obstacles on my way. Three years ago I grasped and boiled them down to three: technology, experience and people. Or rather “technology,” “experience” and “people”—I have nothing against any of these concepts unless they are used by hardware and software companies as substitutes for “computer,” “interface” and “users.”
The situation is serious and these substitutions are happening on an epidemic scale.
In my essays Turing Complete User and RUE I trace the metamorphoses that happened to the terms “users” and “interfaces.” Today, talking about the role of media theory at the University of Applied Arts, I would like to start to elaborate on “technology” and why to resist “Art and Technology.”
I should note that by defending the words in the left column, I always find myself in an unfortunate situation. First of all because in our field you should always go for the new, the next term if you are unsatisfied with the current one,—not backwards, at least not to the nearest past. Nobody wants to be called “user.” The effort to deface this word was enormous and successful. Even when you understand that “people” coming from the tech industry’s mouth is pure hypocrisy, you would prefer to fight for your user rights by calling yourself “digital citizen,” not a user… though there is no digital city, state or constitution.
And I also find myself in awkward situations. Like it is the case now, because I know that there is Art and Technology department at your University; and because the next moment I use an institution as an example that I have very close relations to, and that is probably the only one in the world that supports my work, because it is devoted to net art and keeping an archive of it: Rhizome at the New Museum in New York….