Educational Relevance of the Arts in a Technocratic World

Carla Glen, Carla Glen
Today, it is important to acknowledge our investment in the technologized visual culture world, but at the same time within that investment, allow for active participation in forms that press for engagement and reflection. Theorized through phenomenology, embodiment, and performative inquiry, Arts' Educational Relevance in a Technocratic World presents an awakening of space moments of possibilities through active and interactive participation in installation art forms that press for
more » ... ess for participatory inquiry, engagement, and reflection with our close entanglement with the technologically driven visual culture world, the world in which we dwell, in relationship to our selves and others. Educational Relevance of the Arts in a Technocratic World "There cannot be an art world without theory, for the art world is logically dependent upon theory...An art theory can detach objects from the real world and make them part of a different world, an art world, a world of interpreted things." (Danto, 1981, p. 135) The art world of which Danto speaks is a constructed visual world; therefore, it is provisional, contingent, and always, then, open to critique, expansion, and revision. In the multimedia environment today, mechanical and electronic images, text, and sound are an almost constant presence. The various mass media 1 (e.g. television, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, Internet, World Wide Web, digital multimedia) often work in unison to generate specific dominant or popular representations of events, people, and places, whether these events are fictional, actual, or somewhere in-between. These media are pervasive in much of a person's everyday life, yet these mediums tend to be taken for granted. 2 Today's computer-mediated visual culture is shrouded in a cyberspace that renders bodies immaterial, or one in which bodies that are marked, often violently, according to racial, sexual, and social differences which create a new intensity of a dis-connected world (Merleau-Ponty, 2006, pp. 240-41). 3 In the course of a day, this dis-connection can consist of the next round of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan; Iran's 2009 election deemed as democratic by Ahmadinejad; Bashir genocide charges, ethnic riots in Urumqi in western China (also streamed on YouTube); the pandemic Swine flu viral attacks; the bombings of EnCana's natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia (B.C.); the YouTube video of the racial attack of three young White men beating up a young Black man in Courtenay, B.C.; and further, photos of the recent gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Pitt Meadows, B.C., displayed on Internet social media sites; and finally, of course, we can't forget the death and memorial spectacle of popular culture icon, Michael Jackson. All contribute to the spectacular wired events to which consumers of information and entertainment have become accustomed. This wiring connects and disconnects the mass media consumer simultaneously, rendering him or her both psycho-technologically immediate to events and geopolitically removed from them. This simultaneous wiring underpins the effects of spectacle to which Guy Debord (1967) refers in The Society of Spectacle. 4 Has the technological, media-wired society unconditionally accepted a blending of the boundaries between news and fiction, between entertainment and information in the daily ration of information, news, and entertainment? When the Gulf War was televised live, I was repelled by the politics (working in television at the time), but at the same time riveted by the spectacular images of missiles flying through the darkness of the night and exploding like fireworks-a smart bomb and I as spectator were locked in as one. I was able to see what the bomb was going to destroy, and what it did destroy, from the safety of my television studio in British Columbia, Canada. Further, when 9/11 occurred, I watched the unfolding of the repetitive (looped) images and events again and again from my studio. I remember about 9 hours of looped video over the course of the day-the spectacle blended with numbing horror. Watching these mediated events created a new intensity derived from the televised "live" event. I was haunted by the paradox of disgust undercut by fascination of the mechanics of war and terrorism; a splitting of the body image in the ecstasy of dispersal rescued