A guide to ‘Databasement’


“In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, conformable”. Susan Sontag (b. 1933), U.S. essayist. “Against Interpretation,” sct. 5, in Evergreen Review (Dec. 1964; repr. in Against Interpretation, 1966).

It’s OK to buy South African video/DVD artworks now. So you are the proud owner of a young artist’s video/DVD. Now here’s the thing: if the video that you recently purchased has a dog in it, or a prominent South African building in the Gauteng area, or a sexual act – preferably of a president – or even an act of self-mutilation (even hair if the video is not X-rated)  then you may have made a good investment. Then again, if you do not make copies of the videotape and (BE WARNED) infringe the copyright, your investment will wilt as surely as a post 1960 home video.  

Now the old problem of the chicken and the egg appears. Once you have copied the video/DVD artwork the whole hoard of roaches are out of the bag. The old 1970’s fear of original versus fake, the notion of the artwork as object versus idea, etc., are left to our now more eclectic sensibilities. 

The solution is to get your collectors art video/DVD displayed on National television or loose. The new millennium dawn has turned to morning. At last the end of decades of the cultural effort to end civilised barbarisms and the rejection of the concept of newness. It is easy to view last century achievements through a binary code [as ones and noughts]; as interpreted through progress and digitalisations.

Digitalisations are everywhere today and seem to be ‘the future’, offering a new way of seeing the world and they have helped us envision an age of ‘databasement’. Issues of permanence and structure have never been under so much doubt. Materiality during this century is turning in on itself. Capitalism is left with objects of amusement and flatulence. Marxist materialism has resulted in relics of reinforced concrete been sold outside the Brandenburg gate. Totalisms this century have become ethereal structures that are symbol-less. 

The new thing is experience – experience, in the broad sense, is the transposition of the depository of experiences, possibly the customisation of the unique experience into the personal view.


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