It is certain that, from a cognitive point of view, every experimental activity man carries out needs practice. Without creating a clear practice program - a kind of project - the whole experimental feature will be lost. It may seem paradoxical the fact that a limited experience may potentially benefit from practice; there is however a whole range of exterior relationships that have a decisive contribution to the final result. And these can only take place if they are practised.

Godel’s theorem (of imperfection) states that no logic, no knowledge is complete, but rather incomplete, for they are built upon elements which cannot be explained without referring to other elements which do not belong to that system. The slightly heterodox(1) use that is made of this theoretical postulation serves simply to corroborate a practical conclusion.

The issue of the means and consequent experimentation, as the driving force of the development of all the ruptures that occurred in the meanwhile has been thoroughly discussed throughout the course of our century. What we wish to state is that whenever experimentation is understood as an essential value of the work, it is assumed in a way that allows only two interpretations of it: either it is seen as experimentation based on innocence,(2) which is claimed to be an observer of developments that were not established before; or it is seen as based on experience – and in this case the issues previously referred to are subtly introduced. When facing an experimental intention based on previous knowledge, the problem of how to do it is immediately raised, and with it, the introduction of operational functions that include the capacity for manually work and concepts. Basically, these will limit the area of intervention, whose dimensions are proportional to the level of proficiency – practice – revealed in their manual usage.

One of the perverted consequences of this almost compulsive need to experiment in the domain of art is closely related to the recognition that the means are overestimated, the intrinsically modern definition of “purposeless purpose”, an art exclusively focused on means. The analogy that is drawn between this principle and a clear tendency towards a formalist attitude, strikes us as a direct consequence of a relationship that was meant to be dialectic – experimentation is always dialectic- but which is a cause and effect one, thus revealing an engaging “efficiency”: an intense focusing based on the quality, which is beyond suspicion, of who knows how to wisely handle the resources.

A sign of our time is therefore the existence of a certain disphoria as far as experimentation is concerned(3) , which emphasises other elements of the process of creative production.

We introduce here a new notion for the contemporaneous authorship: the bureaucratic one.

The latter is precisely the one that is born out of a reaction to the ungoverned experimentation of the whole modernity; where the essence of making is clearly in a subject position and replaced by organisational attitudes which make the artist a kind of self-made manager, withdrawn from the experimental practice - consequently, he is not practised anymore – and completely involved in a web of collaborators that are managed and used according to the needs. This withdraw takes part in a quite direct way in the process of making the artistic production more and more homogenous each time; the latter is thus more interested in the end than in the experimental character of the means, which leads to the establishment, as if by inaction, of a lack of curiosity which dangerously asserts itself as consensual.

The dry and rhythmic sound of bullets piercing through targets, exposed as visible proofs of any practice programme (Pedro Tudela, C.A.P.C., 1999), are a direct reference to an alert which has not resigned to the leading consensus. They lead the discussion, once more, towards the avant-garde demand of curiosity and experimentation as fundamental values of artistic practice. Nonetheless, they raise new questions, through their own technological tangibility; these questions not only replace old disagreements about the self-expressive and maniac character of a great part of the art done in the past, but also updates them, colours them with new odours and amplifies them, by means of the new “competitive” relationship it has to establish with a reality immersed in the astonished unconsciousness which arises when facing the so-called “new technologies”.

May, then, the growing technological involvement of art (media art ???) and artists (new media artist ???) be understood as a supplementary sign of the unmistakable and continuous web of complicity established (unconsciously or not, and till today so often denied) with the so-called industry of culture, today transfigured into digital entertainment?

Let’s focus on the ungoverned proliferation of the so-called multimedia technologies, which are present in any kind of initiative that claims to have the mark of modernity, which is so dear to the consumer legitimacy we presently live with. We immediately realise that universes predominantly dematerialised are being massed and becoming vulgar, thus turned into potential sources of profit of a big deal (negation of leisure), which, paradoxically, is the management of one of the economic props of the tertiary sector: leisure. The second conclusion is drawn from the revelation of a high level of adherence on the part of the public, which is lead to active participation – the decisive element of interactivity being thus introduced, while, at the same time, it allows the transfiguration of the previously passive spectator into the now active operator.

This is will be, in a perverted way, the prophetic occurrence mentioned by Walter Benjamin when referring to technology; everybody radically becomes a producer. It is the democratic enlargement of procedures previously available only to some and now turned into tangible reflexes of a society which, according to Rubert de Ventos in his work “Utopias de la sensualidad y metodos del sentido” as far as interactivity is concerned, sees the idea of “open work” in the context of the analogy with the “do it yourself” publicity and commercial techniques.

We are, thus, faced with a landscape of imminently sensitive (in the sense of the socialisation of what is sensitive referred to by Mario Perniola) and with symbolic codes which compete directly with the contemporaneous artistic production.

Before this complex setting, the sound of the shots(4) which are heard in the gallery(5) (C.A.P.C., Pedro Tudela, 1999) may potentially become a negativity metaphor; and then propose the catharsis exercise which the use of fire weapons always makes possible: the fascination/charm/spell of the power of destruction.

The destruction so often foretold by the avantgarde and always not succeeded(6) is here presented with a mask, as a metaphor – as a place to practice – as work in progress, something upon which it is possible to improve. In this new conceptual attitude lays its distinction when faced with the inactivity of the past. Nothing is proposed as a solution, we are simply offered one possible way. Not even the aim is specified, we are merely proposed some possible hints(7) and then the metaphor widens the negativity horizons and opens a much more vast area of intervention.

As in the words of the Catalan philosopher Santiago Lopez Petit, “The excess of order can never produce fear, but the excess of disorder can.”, this probably is one of the certainties about negativity, the deliberate escape from a state of tolerant lethargy – mediocre indifference towards reality – which asserts its lack of alternatives (coinciding with the critical thought); hence, it avoids the possibility of a positive formulation, since to assume itself in that manner would mean that it would cease to be worthy.

Appendix about the importance of sound in contemporary visual arts

As we saw before, there is a clear tendency to include sound in some of the art made nowadays. This is also an issue worth exploiting in order to better understand not only that fact itself but also its consequence: the works become more hybrid in terms of subjects.

In accordance to what was said above, an exception is opened for the fragmentary option made by the musicians that introduce sampling as a way of working, in clear conceptual consonance with our time. Contemporary visual arts are very much interested in the introduction of methodologies that threaten authorship and, above all, profit from the possibilities offered by technology; therefore, all these experiences are being closely followed by artists.

Digital technology decisively opens one of the core issues of artistic production ever: the myth of originality. Musicians can, by means of sampling, produce aesthetically acknowledged work, although without being associated with some kind of theological form of mediation(8) , which is so often referred to as an essential part of artistic production.

“First I fix some drums’ loops, cut some bites. I get a , bleach it and take only the part in the middle. On top of that I put pieces of the rhythm case 808, percussion of the case 272, other pieces7bitess of the case 909. Then I make a riff on the strip and I make something to go with it. While that is working, I remove the original riff and I work in the one I’ve just done and then I remove that one until it has again the first and the last riffs – I am trying to see what fits in and what doesn’t.” (A Guy Called Gerald)(9)

To understand a fragmentary aesthetics like “drum n’bass” in its most interesting experimental exponents is extremely important to the production of artistic objects that, without any kind of prejudice, may profit from what technology potentially offers to a tangible formulation. To radicalise the sound decomposition (already started but limited by technical difficulties, by the series of avantgarde that came up in the course of our century), as it was made, allows in the first place to manipulate the materials used as sources, making them implode in fragments which may be decoded and allowing for its rebuilding as an aesthetic operation, not producer anymore, but reproducer , in the sense that this is, above all, about selection rather than creation. This epistemological change allows for a whole range of possible associations which may be exploited according to the fragmentary will of each one who intervenes. On the other hand, it is decisively opposed to a society that normalises itself by slowly suppressing every possibility of difference – fragment.(10) A sceptical attitude may be relevant to the development of the work, as in any other area. Recent examples lead us to think that the fact that languages are becoming more hybrid by means of the sensorial crossing may quickly end in an innocuous state of things which is formatted in the majority’s preferences. A methodology which turns fashion appendixes into effective components is essential to the cinema, plastic arts and music.

There could be no better ending than Antoni Muntadas’ words: artists would have to maintain the same critical attitude that is the basis of the most clearheaded works of history of art; those who find themselves associated with a specific period of time and place, in one word, a context. With the virtual hypothesis: to understand this new space; to understand the tools and the possibilities one has to act in that same space and finally, act as a sceptical person.

(1)In the sense that the theorem was built to be used in symbolic systems. Even though art is an intrinsically symbolic system, the issue that we raise is clearly connected to other worries. (2)The paradigmatic case of all experiences with a surrealist or dada character, when the intervening authors assert themselves as “almost” passive elements before the continuous course of chance or of other radicalized forms of uncontrolled experimentation, making use of hallucinogens and so on and so forth, taking from this analysis the romantic attitude of the author who asserts himself as a mere leader of something he cannot control, Picasso: “I cannot control my painting, it is my painting that controls me….” (3)As far as this notion is concerned, it is important to read the text by Maria Teresa Cruz: “Experiência e experimentação, notas sobre euforia e disforia a respeito da arte e da técnica” in “real vs. Virtual”. It was also taken from the latter a quotation that according to us seems adequate to the development of the idea stated in the text: “And, thus, beyond a more than understandable disphoria concerning some of its results (experimentation and technique), but also beyond an euphoria, sometimes not confessed or hardly conscious, because of its success, each one of us shares within oneself, as everyone does in the end and maybe with a similar anxiety, a same western feeling of unease, quite in the same level of the feeling of well-being that the epoch allows him”. (4)Listening to the permanent shots creates a predominance of sound which mainly reveals the option of some art of the present time towards new sensitive areas which were conceptually not available to the so-called plastic arts. That option is a sign of some unease – maybe as a direct consequence of some running out – as far as image production is concerned, but which allows the introduction of ways of acting that may be important in a very near future. It is worth highlighting one of this options, the “djaying”. (5)It should be stressed that this absent presence – we know the effect of the shots, we hear their sound, but we do not know who is firing, from where is it being fired from – has an important perceptive effect. Let’s remember Theo Angelopoulos film “The Look of Ulysses” , where the probably most impressive moment is the one when we are simply facing a white screen, only in the company of the deafening sound of the shots. (6)We cannot forget the historical affiliation of a work that makes use of the destructive power of fire weapons, form Burroughs to Burden, obviously including the destruction caused by the fire – as an element per si – of Baldessari’s action by publicly destroying all his previous work on a fire. (7)The formal coincidence suggested by Pedro Tudela (C.A.P.C., 1999) between the targets and the clapboards often used in television certainly point to some direction. (8)We are referring to attitudes that claim originality as an active principle for the development of their work. It is then useful to ask what is meant by originality, since we assist to interestingly deviant phenomena such as: “How can one preserve the aura of the original in a work that needs to proliferate in a micro-industrial scale in order to be considered as such?… The fatal repetition is often indispensable for the integration into the elite body of the international artists.” (Moraza, 1999). (9)Quoted by Rui Miguel Abreu in a text published in the magazine “número”, 03, Fall 1999. (10)In politics nothing is what it seems to be. If on the one hand fragmentation is one of the major challenge to the theorists of neo-liberal globalization, quickly finding its roots in fundamentalism and nationalism of several kinds, on the other hand it acquires potentialities with the multinational cyber power; it scatters itself largely with the forming of small countries inside previous already small and countries. Yugoslavia is a recent example we should reflect upon.

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