Surrounds, Be-Ins, and Performative Participation: Shady Sides of Art and Interventions
Author(s): Leeker, Martina
Beginning in the 1940s, a group of former Bauhaus designers, American artists, and American intellectuals sought to intervene in cultural and political transformations. To revisit that history is to see how art and political power can become entwined, even when artists have the most democratic of intentions. In the 1940s, Americans built multimedia environments —democratic surrounds— which they hoped would help generate liberal democratic personalities by training audiences to curate their own aesthetic experiences. In the 1960s,these environments gave rise to an artistically grounded psychedelic Be-In and to a new holistic participation in a world of electronic media. In both cases, however, designers, scientists, artists, and politicians hoped that media would become both a means of liberation and a mode of control. This history leaves us with the question of which aesthetics and art forms could support a more democratic mode of engagement today. By working through the history of interventions and the arts, this conversation aims to reveal lures and traps that should be avoided in contemporary interventions.
Leeker, Martina: Surrounds, Be-Ins, and Performative Participation: Shady Sides of Art and Interventions. In: Howard Caygill, Martina Leeker, Tobias Schulze (Hg.): Interventions in digital cultures. Technology, the political, methods. Lüneburg: meson press 2017, S. 21–43. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25969/mediarep/2071.
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