1972 I returned briefly to Europe after a three year period of travel
which had finally landed me in Australia. Whilst in England I called
to have tea with an old neighbour Mr. Webb, a gentle quietly spoken
man who had long since retired.
spoke of change and things new. I answered questions about Australia,
the new land of opportunities - a 'virtual' country far in distance
and generally unimaginable to most Europeans.
my visit drew to a close, he asked me a salient question.
I explain electricity?
admitted to having no comprehension of what it was or how it worked.
context of the matter was that Mr. Webb had by profession been a steam
locomotive driver with British Rail. His retirement had coincided with
the full electrification of the railway system in England and the final
de-commissioning of those fire eating, steam breathing giants.
can only say that my attempt to explain this phenomenon was totally
does one explain electricity to a retired steam engine driver?
changes in modes of 'transportation', be it vehicular or communicative
cause temporary ruptures in society. A selective 'we' of contemporary
western society are evidencing the continuing battles between encumbered
linear 'analog' structured mechanisms and the newer non-linear electronic
'digital' variety. A new dictionary of structured 'Super-words' have
set the scene for change and our prime minister has now made the acceptance
this new 'communications' revolution begins, we in the arts have a moral
responsibility to 'stay' with the pace. We need to update our 'thinking'
and 'doing' if we are to have any voice in the shaping of this parallel
'electronic virtual world'.
disciplines in the visual arts have reached crisis point. Their effectiveness
in a future dominated by electronic communication and virtual space
can only be meaningful if this revolution is seen as an opportunity
rather than an annoyance.
troubled would seem to be Sculpture, a space based activity in the first
place. Most troubled - are those painters who having worked from a position
of superiority are struggling within the fabric of a self imposed vulnerability.
Best positioned to take full advantage are those artists who have used
printmaking, text or video as their major communication tool. The electronic
arts sit ideologically close to the tradition of artists' multiples
which have always been accessible through a wide network of parallel
processing and distribution methods. A limited edition of thirty prints
could for example be exhibited in thirty different world wide venues
very nature of the work allows this to be so. A topographical plan of
such an event would closely resemble a model of the current satellite
world wide 'Internet' communications system where individual contributions
echo an interactive, sharing ideology where 'simultaneity' is the operative
own ideology within the structure of a contemporary arts practice is
distinctly linked to a sort of global 'non fascist futurism' into which
art can expand. My choice for the most efficient future mediums are
the 'Internet' system itself and CDRom disks. Imagine being able to
situate exhibitions complete with all necessary information on the world
wide network or on a small CDRom disk. Accessibility by the way, is
and always will be a problem, but then visitors to an art gallery have
never been a perfect reflection of society anyway.
am sure that I am not the only artist with drawers full of editioned
but as yet unsold prints. In my case printing large editions is really
a waste of time, energy and materials.
images are today stored electronically and hardcopy printing is on a
need to print basis via colour inkjet, postscript or laser printer.
My work will soon be placed on the Internet and it will be available
for electronic viewing complete with background information to anyone
interested in doing so via 'MOSAIC' interface. MOSAIC is a freely available
modifiable software package which can sit at all ends of the network.
It acts as a host and guest translator processing incoming and outgoing
graphics, audio, compressed video, animation, text, and a variety of
interactive structures across the world from computer to computer in
am at this stage not overly worried about possible copyright infringement
(anyone with a computer and modem will be able to download my images
and print them out). The worldwide shareware attitude introduced in
the seventies by generous software authors has proved that it is better
to be seen and used by many than ignored by a few. Remote accessing
of artists' work can only assist in bringing the work to a wider audience
and in the case of Australian artists that has to be a good thing.
is the emphasis on successful and transparent communication techniques
that will eventually allow many artists and others to fully appreciate
what they may find so difficult to appreciate today and that is Art
need not be tactile, or object based, or physically present.
act of 'Arting' - The 'Articity' of, during or about Art need not be
bound to a myopic tradition.
next significant art movement will project itself in a non-traditional,
non linear form and will emerge from a 'new generation' of opportunities
offered to arts practitioners through electronic transmission and interaction.
New generations of Art Galleries will also exist electronically. Artists
will navigate through a sort of MOSAIC interface in virtual space and
as virtual reality comes of age, polysensoral art experiences will be
common place. The exhibiting, marketing and curating of artworks will
by necessity have to comply with drastic changes in modes of delivery.
flat LCD screens will frame future art works until direct mindspace
delivery can be established. Leased works will self destruct if not
paid out on time and a new breed of artists will invade the CD territory
traditionally occupied by 'pop stars'.
very first multi-media CDRom offerings by Peter Gabriel and David Bowie
published in 1994 already point the way to new audience/user experiential
possibilities. The interaction allows for direct user manipulation of
music and video mixing. No longer just a witness to sixty minutes of
linear activity the user is now able to become co-author in a further
was a man to whom memories were an in-cumbrance, and anticipations a
superfluity. Simply feeling, considering, and caring for what was before
his eyes, he was vulnerable only in the present. His out-look upon time
was as a transient flash of the eye now and then: that projection of
consciousness into days gone by and to come, which makes the past a
synonym for the pathetic and the future a word for circum-spection,
was foreign to Troy. With him the past was yesterday; the future, to-morrow;
never, the day after.'
from FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD by Thomas Hardy, 1874. From the Penguin
edition, 1978) Douglas Sheerer 1994
short paper was published in IMPRINT Vol.29 No.4 Summer 1994 together
with two images produced via computer interface. Douglas Sheerer is
a Lecturer in Printmaking/Interactive Computer Image Processing at the
School of Art, Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. He
is currently engaged in PhD research and is a Co-Director of Galerie