Mediartists is an interactive experiment, an exploration into the potential for digitial artforms to return to the meaning and purpose in art. The site functions as a cyber-gallery, displaying media and digital art, experimentation in video and photography, and pedagogical texts. In the mediart manifesto, for example, creator Simon Kavanagh presents his position as working within a “decomposition movement” concerned with re-introducing the power and substance of the historical avant-garde through e-modern technology and creative thought.
A virtual installation titled “Subliminal” examines the power of subliminal messages while offering an alternative way to exhibit animations. The animation is displayed on the screen, situated beside a large glossy professional high quality print of one of the 1000 frames for sale. A monitor and keyboard invites the viewer to slow down, speed up, pause, rewind and fast-forward the animation. The artistic expression of mediartists does not to point to itself exclusively, but encourages the recipient to become an active participant. The audience shares in the production of the exhibit, contributes its imagination, and becomes incorporated into the work by virtue of encountering it. Engaging with the works, the viewers decisions play an active role in their creation. Reminiscent of Richard Long’s walks in the field, the site further illuminates how a work of art can be an action rather than simply existing as a physical object.
Mediartist calls to mind the viewing experience of, say, a Richard Serra, where in experiencing the work the viewer becomes incorporated into it as an active participant. The art becomes the interface, a dialogue of thoughts, and of cooperation and shared experience. Here, an interesting relationship is formed with the time in art that Kavanagh suggests marks the point of departure from the substance, power and presence of the art object that existed throughout the historical avant-garde, but which, from his perspective, became lacking after the 90’s. After minimalism, when the capacity for painting to invent new strategies appeared to have exhausted itself, sculpture offered a seemingly endless horizon of new possibilities, particularly in terms of the relationship between work of art and viewer. Similarly, Mediartist reveals how modern technology can be used to create art which in relation to the viewer reveals an embodied, lived experience, actualized through one’s perception, movements, emotions and awareness, remembrance and evaluation.
Light, darkness and color are primary in human experience, a concern artists have been involved with for centuries. In ‘Colour Box’, the viewer is invited to explore color and form at the most basic level, causing the work to function as a visual representation of Donald Judd’s prediction that “color to continue had to occur in space”. Entering the darkened space, the viewer encounters a cube levitating and pulsating with color. Visitors are invited to play with color using the 15 color options, or opt to do nothing. If there is no user inside the cube, or if no interaction has taken place in 5 seconds, the cube will automatically begin mixing colours at random. The longer the color key is selected, the longer the color will remain, never the same combination twice.
Experimentation with different media produces works that are visually and psychologically reflective. The artist tests and explores the possibilities offered by new media, revealing evidence of a calculated move from the frivolity of some digital art to a new condition, a quest for a return to the substance of the old masters and the ability for art to transform the viewer and invoke an increased social awareness. Whilst the interactive piece enables the viewer to explore the questions that humans have been asking since childhood: What colors go with what? What happens when two colors are mixed? What color should I choose next? The form, inevitably limited by its place in time and space, and by its medium, arguably does not invoke the power and presence of a Serra or James Turrell. Still, Kavanagh proves he has the skills and ideas to explore this challenge. As the site develops, so should the potential for manifesting new insight into this artistic development.