How art makes visible the effects of digital technology – Algemeen Nijmegen Studentenblad

Digitization is changing the world around us. This week, art teacher Marijke Goeting obtained her PhD degree at Radboud University with her research in contemporary art, reflecting on new media and technologies. ‘Artists can visualize the impact of digital technology.’

‘Digital technology affects our perception, interaction with others and identity’, explains Marijke Goeting, lecturer in Media Theory at ArtEZ University of Applied Sciences in Arnhem. This week, she received her PhD from Radboud University for her research into the cultural effects of digital technology and the way in which art can handle these effects. ‘I gather various fields of research to analyze works of art that reflect critically on new media and technologies.’

Awareness of digital technology

One of the perspectives that Goeting uses is the algorithms. Goeting: ‘Algorithms filter content for us. If we handle this uncritically, we amplify that effect. You could also handle technologies in a completely different way, for example by incorporating delays. This allows the viewer to become aware of these mechanisms and has room to react differently to them. ‘ She continues: ‘You can also program arbitrarily. Users then get random results between their recommendations, so you do not end up in the tunnel, where you are always presented with the same thing. ‘

According to Goeting, art can play a role in raising awareness. ‘Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has created an interactive screen with a camera where you can see your own silhouette,’ says Goeting as an example. ‘But that silhouette consists of images of people who have stood in front of the screen at an earlier time. With this art installation, you realize that you are not the first person to stand in front of it, and you can see how others have interacted with the screen before you. ‘ Goeting hopes that kind of art will make people think about more collective and social ways in which we can use technology. “Now you only see yourself reflected in algorithms,” Goeting says. ‘If we pay attention to those mechanisms, it has an effect on how you see yourself and the world.’

A new experience of the time

Another perspective that Goeting uses is about the super-fast information processing of computers. Goeting: ‘Because computers can process information much faster than we do, we will experience time differently.’ As an example, she mentions flash trading on the stock exchange, where algorithms trade stocks in microseconds. ‘The algorithms work so fast that we can not intervene.’

Artists respond to this development with their work. Goeting: ‘VPRO and design studio Catalogtree have made an interactive documentary about flash crash of 2010, where billions of dollars went up in smoke because the algorithms are constantly reacting to each other. ‘ According to Goeting, we can not observe these small units of time, but designers can use data visualizations to uncover what is happening. ‘It is a task for artists and designers to make visible the effects of digital technology.’

Research in practice

With his research, Goeting hopes to be able to help artists and designers with this task: ‘That way, they can better reflect on these effects and make their own choices about how they want to do this in their own practice.’ She says her students directly benefit from the research: ‘I hope the research will help students become more aware of digital technology.’

In his follow-up research, Goeting would like to look at how designers and artists can make use of artificial intelligence. Goeting notes that more and more artists are exploring how to use artificial intelligence to create images. ‘I’m curious about what is and what is not possible and what it means for art,’ Goeting concludes.

Leave a Comment