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Originally published in French and English in Art-Reseaux, Karen O'Rourke, Editor (Paris: Universit de Paris !

, "##$%, pp& $'($)& *his article asserts that dialogical structures o++er alternatives to the traditional unidirectional syste, o+ art&

ON THE NOTION OF ART AS A VISUAL DIALOGUE


Eduardo Kac (199 ! !l y a un po ,e - +aire sur l'oiseu .ui n'a .u'une aile /ous l'enverrons en ,essage t l phoni.ue 0uillau,e 1pollinaire 23alligra,,es4
*he i,portance o+ the telephone and its e5tensions 2+a5, e(,ail, slo6(scan *7 etc4 +or art,aking is yet to be investigated& *he social i,pact o+ the telephone sparks the idea o+ art as a dialogue, going beyond the notion o+ art as ob8ect(,aking& *he understanding o+ art as inter(co,,unication ,oves us a6ay +ro, the issue o+ 6hat is it that art or the artist co,,unicates9 to .uestion the very structure o+ the co,,unication process itsel+& !t is not so ,uch 6hat is being co,,unicated in a particular situation that is at stake, but the very possibility o+ verbivocovisual interlocution that ulti,ately characteri:es sy,bolic e5changes& 1t the end o+ the t6entieth(century 6e are +acing a shi+t to6ards the proli+eration o+ ,ore interactive art+or,s& *his is a reaction against the inter(passivity inherited +ro, previous ,edia and against passive use o+ potentially interactive ,edia& !nteractive video disc is ,oving video beyond its links 6ith cine,a, co,puter holography is pushing holography beyond the photographic +ra,e, interactive co,puter installations, including 7irtual Reality, are taking co,puter graphics beyond the Renaissance 6indo6& ;e can no6 talk o+ art as seeking a dialogical structure, in 6hich dyna,ic e5changes and trans+or,ations o+ i,ages, sounds and te5ts re+lect the +lu5 o+ data o+ the in+or,ation age in a 6ay that +i5ed +or,s can not& !n tele,atic art, the physical by(products o+ the visual dialogues (+a5es, tapes etc% are but docu,ents o+ the process& *ele,atic art takes on the e5change bet6een t6o or ,ore people, and +inds a ,odel in the unpredictable loop o+ ideas, gestures, 6ords, ga:es, sounds and reactions they per+or, in real ti,e according to one's +eedback to the other's utterances& *ele,atic art has e5hibited the collapse o+ the sender<receiver bipolarity o+ =akobson's sche,atic co,,unication ,odel, and is inventing the ,ultilogue o+ net6orking as a collaborative art +or,& >ialogues can assu,e di++erent shapes& ;estern culture is slo6ly ackno6ledging the ,ental visual operations that are indissociable +ro, the cognitive process 6e na,e ?thought?& ;e are understanding that the ,ental association o+ i,ages is capable o+ articulating co,ple5 structures in itsel+, and 6e seek to investigate ho6 visual synta5es 6ork, 6hether in thought or e5teriori:ed in visual syntag,s& 1ll the a+ore,entioned i,plications o+ tele,atic art, in addition to the virtually une5plored do,ain o+ telepresence, have a social and political value, 6hich can not be reduced by ,anich@ist disputes: 6ho is right (i&e&, 6ho speaks%, 6ho is 6rong (i&e&, 6ho listens%, 6ho has the right to speak in the na,e o+ 6ho& *his observation is o+ special signi+icance today, 6hen 6orks that clai, to be ?politically correct? are celebrated as i+ any political attitude could auto,atically legiti,ate an art6ork& !t is clear that i+ a capitalist television is replaced by a Aar5ist television, it is a ,ere substitution that takes place, and not a revolution, because the control and distribution o+ in+or,ation 6ould still re,ain centrali:ed and unidirectional& !n a s,aller scale, to use a +a5 ,achine to send +rag,ents o+ a picture to a gallery as an artistic activity is to disregard the real esthetic issues o+ t6o(6ay co,,unication, because the picture could have been sent by ,ail 6ith the sa,e result& Only a trans+or,ation in the structure o+ co,,unication ignites a real de,ocratic change& ;orks o+ art created 6ith tele,atic ,edia are co,,unication events in 6hich in+or,ation +lo6s in ,ultiple directions& *hese events ai, not to represent a trans+or,ation in the structure o+ co,,unication, but to create the e5perience o+ it& *hey could be interpreted as signs o+ a +uture in 6hich co,,unication is +ree o+ political constraints and censorship, and in 6hich art, liberated +ro, the rules o+ the ,arket o+ ob8ects, beco,es one o+ the possible dialogues&