Varnelis > The Immediated Now (summary by Aaron Kay)

‘The Immediated Now’ is a discussion of the impacts of computer/internet-based networked culture upon society. This is historically contextualised within the shift of computers from the office (or the lone computer enthusiast) into the mainstream, as digital technology now sees everyday use. As these digital networks developed, this was mirrored by shifts in society – as network culture is not limited to the domain of computers but is played out in the social sphere. The text discusses the poetics of the real; as life becomes performance and the internet/digital networks become part of out lives, but go further to present constant self-affirming feedback to life. The realism discussed is not traditional, but instead exists within key areas: self exposure, information visualisation, the documentarian, remix and participation. These are discussed in turn with examples given for each. One of the main themes throughout is that technology is now inseparable from culture, and therefore all art is ‘networked’.

Some of the key points I would like to highlight include a discussion of our fascination with the real, which is most easily illustrated by reality TV programs, YouTube and internet blogs. The text claims that immediacy is favoured over formal structure, and in the absence of a predefined structure, tradition is replaced by the experience. There is some discussion of post-modernism, however a distinction is made between postmodern realism and the ‘Poetics of the Real’. Another interesting point is the application of Marxist theory; factory labor is replaced by immaterial production and knowledge, which offer us a new way of understanding the world.

One more key point, which is of particular relevance to my own work, is a discussion of the artist as aggregator which replaces the artist as producer; the text claims that networked culture has given rise to new ‘DIY’ forms of aggregation (which could be illustrated by the constant hyperlinking and cross-referencing on the internet, and bloggers re-blogging quotes from other blogs). Related to this is the artist as remixer – whereby the artist reorganizes rather than creates. To quote the text directly, “What can we make that is new” is replaced by “How can we make so with what we have”.

This text is merely a discussion, with some compelling evidence which outlines the changes which it claims have taken place and their implications on art and culture. As the author affirms, there are no answers as such given by the text, but it leaves its topics open to further discussion. The author claims that what is needed is a new critical perspective, and this text could be taken as a starting point from which such a perspective could be formed. I can not claim to totally understand every point in the text , or exactly how each example is totally relevant to the points, but I can understand some of the key points well enough to start to think about them in relation to my own research and project ideas.

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