on art, virus and antibodies

At the edge of art defends a view of society as a body and art as the immune system that protects it (according to the book, from “technology’s assault”; “society needs art to survive”.). The analogy between antibodies and art allows a description of operations performed for both within the context of the body. While lymphocites work by recognizing an alien body (=virus), capturing it, warning the entire immune system and reproducing another antibodies to finally eliminate the threat, artists can be seen as the “agents” that (while flowing in the “bloodstream” of society) first recognize ideas not yet assimilated but already circulating in the culture, give resonance to them, arrest the public’s attention, and creates a cultural memory. The comparison is intriguing, though: are artists “guardians” of society? Antibodies work to eliminate foreign agents that could compromise the body’s life. Maybe I do not understand the strong political premise of the work, that art is keeping society “alive” against “technology’s relentless proliferation”.


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One Response to on art, virus and antibodies

  1. Jess says:

    I am not sure whether I agree with the idea that artists are like the white blood cells of society and are keeping it alive against “technology’s relentless proliferation.” I say this because of networked art. The videos on YouTube and other video sharing sites are no matter how rudimentary, are still a form of artistic expression. YouTube pushes viral media forward with its repetitive posts and ease of embedding.

    I think a better way to describe viral media is not so much from the blood’s point of view but rather from the virus itself. When one contracts a virus he or she must let it run its course since antibiotics do not work with it. This quote from westernmedia.org in a Viral Marketing article I feel better describes viral media:

    “…what makes a campaign really ‘viral’ is not so much its ability to ‘be shared and re-transmitted’ by as many people as possible, but the potential it has of being ‘repurposed,’ or ‘re-adapted’ by the largest number of people in the largest number of new contexts.”

    I think over all viral media and its role in the art world is a tricky one to be decisive about. I think you do a great job to explain it using the body as a metaphor, but I agree with you that maybe I do not understand the political premise, but yes, I do not agree with the statement that artists are the “guardians” of society.

    Thanks for your post, Beatriz!


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