Years ago I was frequently terrifying my rare friends in bars with completely improvised and bizarre artistic manifestos. Here is a brand new one:
Come as you are.
M4nkind.com is originally a group of science students, artists and enthusiasts, that has been involved in real-time experimental short film on computers since the beginning of the nineties, at a time a lot of things were happening in the underground computer scene through Europe.
Early before 1990, Hackers started to explore experimental real-time effects on computers, with graphics and musics. This movement, rapidly spread, involved a lot of research, both technical and artistic.
Later then, there was a paradox you could read between the lines of those productions in the nineties, about nothing but the aim of these numerous short films:
Was it Technical or Artistic ? Was it Technical demonstrations through Art or Art through
Technical demonstrations ? Or both ? Should Short computer experimental films be made for everyone, or for a finite number of amateurs ?
There were occasional discussions about it, that did not prevent the movement to evolve and follow technical advances. On the Art side, it is noticeable that a lot of different shapes, references to one or another culture, sequence montage techniques, experimentations with sound and image symbiosis, exploded during the nineties in these movies, like nowhere else.
Then came the word.
Aside that, Industrial computer science, and marketing, were also going their own way during that period. The advent of the CD Rom, around 1994, was sold with a new Word, that would solely define the links to come between Art and Computer Science: Multimedia.
Basically, your computer would be “Multimedia” because it was not anymore that sparkling grey brick lost in a corner of your room. You could have images and sounds now. It was officially allowed to do Art on Computers, thanks for that word.
The problem was, a lot of people were actually doing exactly that since 10 years, and yet that Art was not recognized as valuable, except rare exceptions. And the word didn’t help.
“Hello, I want to buy a Multimedia Computer.”
You could read the word “Multimedia” during years on ads and brochure, until the mid 2000’s: the fashion more or less lasted a decade. At that time, kids were already raised with internet, and the adults had more frequently computer knowledge and computer culture, not mentioning all media becoming digital.
This, with the advent of video servers being the final nail in the coffin, changed completely the way people used to see computer-for-computer Art, by flattening every symbols, every cultures, to the same level. Whatever you were doing, music with spoons, knitting bags, reviving forgotten musical genres, or Programming effects on a 30 year old 8 bit computers, all these suddenly became OK and could take recognitions.
The story of Pixel Art is very relevant of this:
Pixel artists used to live by their work in the eighties, drawing characters for video games. It was a difficult art, involving a large set of techniques, they had to be graphic designer, animators, and they had to deal with technical constraints in size, colors, and memory weight. The few people actually able to do that were then praised by their employers.
It all changed in the middle of the nineties. People wanted 3D games and Pixel Art became obsolete quite suddenly. For a long time. Until the Post-Media era.
Paradoxically, labelling a culture leads to restricting that culture. A dead culture is not the one you haven’t heard about, but more likely the one no-one practices, the one that does not take elements from other cultures.
“Hello, I want to buy a Post Media Computer”
Recently the Art world, Gallery Owners and Critics, for the first time in history, arrived at the same analysis about culture and state of the Art as could do an independent underground demomaker, and even more, using the same words: Post Media. Signs of the time: pixel Artists like eBoy are nowadays praised in galleries. Displaying a background of underground computer geek and experimenter does not scare anymore, quite the reverse, it opens doors.
So what art can you do in an environment where everything is possible, where everything is open ? Isn’t it the time to deeply reshape the Frames of art, mix shapes, colors, sounds, in ways they were never shaped before ? Isn’t it the time to really flatten the field of possibilities before your eyes ?
I think so, and I invite you to do so.
- The old stuff from m4nkind is visible on this very site: http://www.m4nkind.com
- pouet.net references more than 62000 Computer Realtime Digital Short Films made between 1980 and today in the world.
- http://demoscene.tv permanently broadcasts democene videos since 2005.