Digital culture in contemporary artistic practice
Cristina Masanés

In contemporary artistic creation, the digital arts have acquired a position of centrality which is now unquestioned. Although initially they represented a change of support and therefore a more instrumental element, with time they have come to transform the very idea of artistic practice. In the first sense, the new digital supports have facilitated the manifestation of some of the basic suppositions which conceptual art began to defend in the 1960s, such as the dematerialisation of the artistic support and of art in general, the fact of placing emphasis on the idea of process and not on the result, or that of moving art towards the sphere of action and time rather than that of matter and space. But in addition, in this trajectory, digital culture has come to act as a vertebrating axis of contemporary visuality. After three decades of digital culture, what started out as an instrument has come to form a true way of looking. Nowadays no-one is a digital immigrant. It is no longer possible to think of the world without the concept of digital community. It is no longer necessary to negotiate with matter to materialise a form. It is no longer necessary to stage a revolution to create an impact on the social body.

As a network of support for contemporary creation, ETAC fully subscribes to this paradigm. The digital world has many advantages but it requires critical awareness. Javier Chozas, one of ETAC’s resident artists, who presented the project La fuite des lucioles [The flight of the glow worms], condensed a part of this reflection in this way. We believe that art, as a platform of critical thought, not only must not blindly incorporate this digital visuality but has to seek out its limits and its acritical suppositions. What are the new control mechanisms that have been imposed by digital societies? What new forms of life do they nurture? What epistemological and moral connotations do they signify? Creative plurality and the idea of laboratory or visual research can play this liberating role.

  • Although the digital arts have made it possible to materialise some of the suppositions initially defended by conceptual art, with time they have come to transform the very idea of artistic practice. It is no longer possible to understand the world, or art, without digital culture. It corresponds to the sphere of contemporary creation to convert digital culture into an object of reflection, seeking out its acritical suppositions and its epistemological and moral connotations.
  • Digital culture, digital arts, critical thought, platform, support, contemporary creation, artistic practice, ETAC.