The Responsible Subject

The disappearance or metamorphosing of the art object into electronic virtuality retains the signifiers of objective materiality, while shifting artistic production to a new mode, where oppositional work is not restricted by the contemporary narrational code of the art field. Artworks on the net are in a position to utilize globalization as a contradictory context for negating the terror aspects inflicted by the digital revolution. Compromising cultural identity is the price one has to pay for engaging in the process of collapsing the hegemony of the art object, if one does not happen to belong to the English-speaking world.

In the digital world the seen is not only a cultural signifier of abstract ideas, feelings, emotion, etc . It is rather a vast number of interactions of identities, values, commands, representations, etc., which appear visually on the screen through the means of changeable light points. The representation is paradoxical, metamorphic and nomadic. The context for the art work in the virtual is postmodern, as the same light points, in different configurations, can embroider an artwork, a commercial visual, an interactive command as a signifier of a tool, a monetary transaction, a legal document, etc. A streaming montage where the visual of an artwork is equal to any other visual, thus shifting the meaning of the digital artwork to a different paradigm. The digital context makes it possible to cut out the middleman, the gallerist or museum curator, and there is a dialog between authors/producers and viewers. And, of course, the monetary exchange value of a work of art seen on the electronic screen aspires to nothing.

All of these factors construct an art field where the merit of art could change from speculative exchange value to cultural use value. A cultural exchange on a non-economic basis can point to a different direction in art making. Moreover, access to a PC means access to the most advanced technological means of industrial production. As a result, a shift has occurred in the traditional relationship between producers of art and the implements of social production. The artists are no longer only criticizing, mediating or commenting on the mode of production through aesthetization, from an outside and alienated position; they are working with the means of social production from within. The artwork no longer represents the machine through simulation, but rather uses it directly. Paradoxically, the marriage between the economic digital means of production and the artistic ones creates a possibility for an art field outside the hegemony of the market. This could lead to the collapse of prevailing concepts about art.

To sum up, a meaningful art work on the plane of the digital revolution is a work that points towards the possible fulfillment of the emancipatory potential inherent in this revolution. It is a work that utilizes the advances of technology in order to criticize and subvert the socio-economic and political contexts within which this technology is being created, diffused and controlled. Since the means of digital artistic production are predetermined and controlled by profit-making corporations, indeed by one global conglomerate, to be a responsible citizen of the global village, the artist must seek to express the voice of those who are terrorized into silence by the digital revolution.