Monday, May 2, 2011

Atemporality and the creative mind

So, we are living a unique chapter of history in the present in which we are confronted with problematic post-industrial societies, with an era in which run-down political – economical systems and new inventions as digital social networks are simultaneously present alongside a fast paced developing technology.
We gradually grew into this present situation, in which we have a growing global disorder, a potentially failed global economic system, a world blinded by surreal advertising utopias stimulating the pursuit of some sort of material happiness, a transition to nowhere.
Human intelligence is not really advancing at the moment towards the summit, a definable advanced peak of civilization. Not yet, but I believe that this phase will pass and a new system will emerge from this atemporal social network culture. We won’t really have a choice.

Our world is changing and these changes are on autopilot. Systems controlling and driving systems and man needs to figure out the rules and values. We have to see where we are and where we are going.
Our discontent with the right now and right here brought us Atemporality where the past, present and future collided into each other, revealing time’s true nature as an abstract absolute paradigm.
Some people choose to dig their head in the decaying present to avoid unpleasant confrontations with reality and many are stuck with an antiquated analog mind frame as they try to hold on to a sentiment about past structures.

“History is not a science; history is an effort in the humanities. It’s about meanings, values, language, historical identity, institutions, culture. “
( Bruce Sterling on Atemporality at Transmediale 10 in Berlin, 2010 )
If we want to understand the dynamics of the Now and predict the trajectory of the social-technological expansion in the future accurately, we have to look at the events and their dynamics at the previous states. History is no longer a linear journey from point A to point B. The emerging network societies are expanding, mutating in all dimensions as the intricate system of information is becoming knowledge, which in return generates even more information within the same network.

So, what is Atemporality? And what does it mean to me as an artist?
Quoting Bruce Sterling one more time:
Atemporality is best defined as a problem in the philosophy of history.
What we can know about the past, and about the present, and about the future. How do we represent and explain history to ourselves? What are its structures and its circumstances? What are the dynamics of history and futurity? What has happened before? What is happening now? What is really likely to happen next? “

“ What is really likely to happen next?” I find this question fascinating in regard to photography and art.

Seth Godin in his book, "Linchpin" suggests that information technology and globalization will lead to creative jobs being the only ones left in advanced economies.
“This is the giant unwritten headline of our post-industrial economy. If your job isn't creative/interactive or local, it's probably going to go away.”

Crowd founding financed photographer Aaron Huey’s documentary project “America’s native prisoners of war” and he is using billboards and other advertising platforms to call attention to the problems of indigenous people in the US and around world. Projects such as this are a good example of dealing with social- economical crisis’s in the present by using contemporary methods and media to target unsolved issues of the past. Which, are still creating tension within societies in the present and with that delaying progress towards new, more improved systems.
Now, more than ever before the creative power within photography must be exploited to reach and engage people and to stimulate the mind, instead of keeping it hooked on the delusive quest of pursuing happiness. As this project also proved: commercial platforms can act as unexpected channels of intellectual value.

Digital photography as a medium is not just a temporal, fashionable, choice of the time for me. It is a lucid language, which let’s me visualize conceptual ideas based on an atemporal mindset. Photography and especially art has gone through enormous changes in the past, but it always had the human mind as a constant creative factor at the base. Now, as we are discovering the potentials of the digital era the human intentionality is getting reduced or completely taken out of the process. Generative art and computer assisted digital photography is based on computer software, on operating systems. As you learn about the new generation of programs they also learn about you and about your methods of work. Ridiculous as it may sound, but we are on the way to humanize the computers and software we use.
If I have a question these days, I use search engines which are also becoming more and more personalized. There are intangible algorithms embedded already within Google, Youtube and Facebook, which are keeping a close watch at my behavior and silently learning about my habits and personal interest.
Art, and in some ways photography, is no longer about having talent or an eye for aesthetics. These days everybody is an artist or a photographer. Websites as Flickr have became visual data banks of the world. By now practically everything has been photographed. Talent and the idea of the artist in the traditional manner is the past and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.
A creative society is the gateway to a future where a dynamic equilibrium between man and technology is maintained by a constructive society.
Practically everybody has a chance to participate. The tools are there. The information and knowledge is available, but even more importantly the freedom is there for the individuals to create, to express themselves in any which way. As for professional artists and photographers it all comes down to the content, to the underlying philosophy, intentions and the context within the work is presented.
By now we are accustomed to the once shocking visual language of art forms such as Surrealism from advertisements. We are no longer shocked by the ferocity of violence in the media or in computer games, let alone the imagery of wars in far away foreign countries.
In my opinion, right now, photography as a form of art matters more than ever.
It is no longer about simple one-way communication or about mirroring reality.
It’s just not enough. There is a need for good, non pre- digested art and for open artworks conceived by creative curious minds, which stimulate the situation awareness.
It’s this creative curious mind, which knows no limits and has the ability to look beyond the awe of the future that can help us to understand what’s going on in the present.
The digital age we live in has changed not only our image culture, but also challenged our perception of reality. We are freed of rigid structures and solid empirical reality. The digital medium is an adequate tool to reflect this new age, as photography has become a synthetic process again. Besides the decisive moment and the non-cropped frame of reality in front of us, now we can also present a constructed, synthetic reality, based on gathering and compositing information in the form of binary codes. This is an augmentation of photography with new multiple choices and not a limitation.