Thoughts on, and references to, Blais, Joline & Ippolito, Jon, 2006. At the edge of art, London: Thames & Hudson.
I had a look through the at the edge of art web site, and found the six functions of art particularly interesting. The web site claims that there are similarities between the human and the social body, and presents several examples whereby cells in the human body can be compared to the social functions of art. I find this extremely interesting, as what occurs on a macro scale inside the body is reflected on a social level in the human world, by way of the internet.
The six functions it outlines are Perversion, Arrest, Revelation, Execution, Recognition and Perseverance; a contrast is then provided in each category. The example for Revelation is extremely clear when applied to the internet. In the human body, an “advance scout” of the immune system, when detecting an invader, broadcasts alerts to other immune cells in the bloodstream, to tell them that there is an invader. Art on the internet, begins to infect a society on an subconscious level, before it has been articulated; and this is exploited by internet artists as a method by which they can alert others to its existence. The internet is the blood stream, and the immune cell is the art, planted by the artist. Once activated, it lets other artists (immune cells) know it is there, as it resonates through the internet.
Execution (of a genetic code), in the human body, allows cells to divide, each one a clone of the other. The internet equivalent (executable culture) clones itself, saturating the internet pathways (bloodstream). One could consider executable culture to be that which can reproduce itself via the internet. This allows artists and services to be exposed to the masses, rather than sit in a gallery waiting to be discovered. Files and processes can be duplicated just like bodily cells. Similarly, with Recognition, one cell transmits a ‘wakeup call’ upon noticing something which may destroy it, which then broadcasts to alert other cells. Together, they attack the intruder and destroy it.
What I find most fascinating about these descriptions is that bloodstreams and nerves and connections on a very small level, are mirrored on a much larger scale via the digital networks we have created. It is almost like humans have re-created nature, but as a vehicle for communication, which can then be used as a vehicle for social art. On a much larger scale still, this also mirrors the cities (hubs/nodes) and highways (connections) which we have created; indeed, from space, the earth looks like a living organism. Some also compare the view of the earth from space, to a living cell covered in some kind of parasite, which is consuming it. Although we have re-created the functions of nature to serve our society, culture, and art, I think that we must not forget the macro networks in nature which keep us functioning. These are some of my thought in response to the At the edge of art functions.