Documents of Contemporary Art: Systems


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Documents of Contemporary Art: Systems


Edited by Edward A. Shanken

Part of the acclaimed Documents of Contemporary Art series of anthologies which collect writing on major themes and ideas in contemporary art.

"To better understand the possible futures of art, you need to know the stuff in this book."

- Sarah Cook, new media art historian, curator and
co-author of Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media.

In the 1960s many artists, composers, musicians and architects began to embrace open systems that emphasise organism over mechanism, dynamic processes of interaction among elements, and the participant’s role as an inextricable part of aesthetic experience. This anthology traces this radical shift from its roots in systems and information theories, cybernetics and artificial intelligence to current cutting-edge science. It also explores the ways in which systems-based art projects can create self-generating entities and networks, alter our experience of time, change the configurations of social relations, cross cultural borders, and interact with threatened ecosystems.

Artists surveyed include Roy Ascott, Brian Eno, Frank Gillette, Hans Haacke, Newton Harrison & Helen Mayer Harrison, Ken Rinaldo, Tomás Saraceno, Sonia Landy Sheridan, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, Woody & Steina Vasulka, Stephen Willats and Iannis Xenakis.

Writers include Jack Burnahm, Geoff Cox, Boris Groys, Francis Halsall, N. Katherine Hayles, Caroline A. Jones, Bruno Latour, Niklas Luhmann, Humberto Maturana, William J. Mitchell, Nick Prior and Francisco Varela.

Edward A. Shanken is Visiting Associate Professor, DXARTS, University of Washington. He is the editor of Roy Ascott’s collected writings Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology and Consciousness (2003) and the author of Art and Electronic Media (2009).

Paperback, 240 pages, 210 x 145 mm

ISBN 978-0-85488-234-2

First published 2015

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