Plato, plutonium, plutarch: Trinity for contemporary plurality

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Degree programme
134 + 1
Plato, Plutonium, Plutarch; Trinity for contemporary plurality is a compendium of theoretical discourse about contemporary art production. The main themes in this thesis regard the question of ethical,political, social and art historian aspects of contemporary art in the time of neoliberal system logic. Most of the problems concern the situation of history and democracy of artistic expression, ranging from concepts of immateriality, virtual perception, formalism and most notably, the constant reenactment and influence of Modernism in the world of art. From theoretical point of view, contemporary art production represents a complex momentum in the midst of long post- war situation. From a more generalized position it represents the overturn of social changes, exemplifying the exchange of roles between art and the state. What has in the past been the role of the state is nowadays visible in market related art production. Such disorientation, visible in the depiction of power, control and neoliberal principles, reflects in artistic production and subconsciously in art theory as well. Dislocation and temporal incompetence of contemporary artworks are two most crucial components when discussing and using theoretical and historical methodology in order to examine specific moment of contemporaneity. Digitalized conceptions in social behavior have also brought new ways of looking at art production. The question of immateriality has been revived and historically rejuvenated with Conceptual art. Material definitions are also in close contact with the connotations of historical materialism, thus providing a specific theoretical frame from which new theories emerge. Majority of contemporary theories are also structured and symptomatically aligned with postmodern ethos. As a theorist, to dodge the concept of Modernism is still being questioned. Formalism and usage of imagery in contemporary situation is in close contact with the method of appropriation. This principle represents one of the main preoccupation attitudes in art practices today. Multiple medium usages are also under consideration and specific data carriers are always in constant change, forcing digital artists to re-write and re-think their art practices. The most important notion, which appears at this point, is that innovations on different technological fields evade interpretations. Besides the technological downside there is also a negative point in democratized usage of different media, later called artistic practice. In artistic field, number of users rises and the quality lowers. Scientific approaches in artistic practices are becoming more and more present, reaching from research-based principles or sheer data classifications. This type of expertise provides a perfectly mathematical equation of artworks, but this does not imply its correctness or ethics. Numbers and vast data have provided the public to become numb of experiences without such technological utopically called advantages. The so-called classic role of a bystander of art is long gone, giving the path to the consumer’s view of looking on art. The only possible way for a theory to exist is to know its limitations and of its sincerity. Contemporaneity is still a humongous symptomatic creature, which needs to be carefully examined. Constant citing with experimentalism of Modernism has to be pushed aside and bring front the qualities of emphasizing differences, the origin of new, refreshed theories.
Ryynänen, Max
Thesis advisor
Euro, Pia
contemporary art, neoliberalism, digitalization, art history, art theory, art market