A lot of media art is cowardly, unengaging and masturbatory, hiding behind cleverness, technological tricks and ironic detachment to mask the unwillingness of its makers to take the risk of revealing any real feeling or vulnerability.
We do not need more ideas, we do not need more ways to explore objects and their interrelation. The world is full of empty objects; empty of human care and human relation. Making emotionally frigid art as commentary on the emptiness of culture is a thinly veiled passive aggressive act that only compounds the problem.
Marshall Macluhan, Roland Barthes and Walter Benjamin have given us fascinating ideas to ponder about our relationships with media and with one another in a swiftly changing world, but it is a grave mistake to believe that human evolution is proceeding apace with our technology. Therefore the more artists focus their attention and energy on “exploring” new media, the less able they will be to meet real humans where we are at, now, and create meaningful and resonant experiences for us, that are relevant to the lives we are living and the feelings we are feeling.
Most media art passive-aggressively contributes to its own marginalization by refusing to enter into relationship with its audience on a level of emotional availability. The currency of human relationship is emotion, not ideas. Picasso, for instance, was full of ideas, but the emotional impactfulness of his work is impossible to deny.
Emotionally withholding, frigid, distant, technology-driven installation art is the furthest thing from “interactive,” though there may be sensors in the room responding to the movements of the people in the gallery.
Producing Youtube Art that is ugly, cheap and easy is not a meaningful comment on the medium, it merely contributes to the white noise that it purports to stand above. Media art that comments on the vacuity of mainstream media may have been relevant in the 70s, but that horse was beaten to death decades ago.
What we need now, in fact, is rawness, a willingness to connect emotionally as flawed, mortal human beings through the media that we use in a meaningful, personal, risky way. Painters are still allowed to make emotionally rich work, as are sculptors, choreographers and photographers. Emotion is in fact the major taboo in the genre of media art, and this taboo needs to be shattered if media art is ever going to be truly relevant again.