For God's Sake!
How the media change the way we imagine / represent / honour / curse the divinity
Whether we like it or not, spirituality has shaped the evolution of the media, and in turn has been amply influenced by it. Two of the most effective technological brand identities, the Big Brother symbol and the Second Life logo, are blatantly inspired by the divine eye. “God games” are among the most popular videogames, and our passion for high tech gadgets is akin to idolatry. The total absorption commanded by videogame playing, right down to the position adopted by players, is our new form of prayer.
Search engines have come to acquire the status of modern-day oracles. “It’s true, I read it on Google”, is an everyday assertion that sounds like an act of faith. If religion is (or was) the opium of the people, in the 90s it was a banality to say the same of television – just as it is today of Youtube. And satellite vision, made popular by GPS systems and Google Earth, on the one hand imitates the divine viewpoint, while on the other allows everyone to adopt it. Technology violates our privacy like only God used to be able to. And while computers are not yet powerful enough to follow in the footsteps of HAL 9000, the overbearing superbrain of 2001 A Space Odyssey, we get the impression that they are not far off it.
From another perspective, churches of all levels and denominations are themselves exploiting the potential of the media to the full. As one Christian website reads, “God Always Uses the Latest Technology”. Holy wars are being waged in virtual worlds. We want technology to give us proof of myths and miracles, and the Catholic backing for Mel Gibson’s blockbuster is common knowledge.
Contemporary artistic projects have raised these issues on many occasions, exploring technological fetishism, the oracular nature of the internet, the fideistic attitude we have towards the media and the evangelizing bent of those who produce them. This art often takes a critical approach, but also looks for an authentic vehicle of spirituality in the media. Taking this as its theme, Pixxelpoint 2008 addresses saints and heretics alike, looking for projects which explore the relationship between media and spirituality at a key point in human history, a time of civilization clashes and neocon upsurges, apocalyptic nightmares and hopes for a new enlightenment.
Domenico Quaranta, curator
Domenico Quaranta is an art critic and curator who lives and works in Brescia, Italy. With a specific passion and interest in net art and new media, Domenico regularly writes for Flash Art magazine. His first book titled, NET ART 1994-1998: La vicenda di Äda'web was published in 2004; he also co-curated Connessioni Leggendarie. Net.art 1995-2005 (Milan, October 2005) and Holy Fire. Art of the Digital Age (Bruxelles, April 2008) and co-edited, together with Matteo Bittanti, the book GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames (Milan, October 2006). Among his most recent publications, Todd Deutsch: Gamers (ed., 2008) and Gazira Babeli (ed., 2008). He teaches “Net Art” at the Accademia di Brera in Milan and runs the blog Spawn of the Surreal.
HOLY FIRE: ART OF THE DIGITAL AGE
Domenico Quaranta, Yves Bernard (eds), Holy Fire. Art of the Digital Age, exhibition catalogue, Bruxelles, iMAL, April 2008. FPEditions, Brescia 2008, pp. 126, € 25.00, ISBN 978-88-903308-4-1. Hardcover, English / French.
Domenico Quaranta (ed), Gazira Babeli, FPEditions, Brescia, March 2008, pp. 88, € 20.00, ISBN 978-88-903308-2-7 [italian edition] 978-88-903308-3-4 [english edition]. With texts by Patrick Lichty, Alan Sondheim and Mario Gerosa.
Domenico Quaranta (ed), Todd Deutsch: Gamers, FPEditions, Brescia, January 2008, pp. 80, € 20.00, ISBN 978-88-903308-0-3 [italian edition] 978-88-903308-1-0 [english edition]. With an interview with the artist and a text by George Slade.
Domenico Quaranta (ed), EVA E FRANCO MATTES (0100101110101101.ORG): Portraits. Published for the show “EVA E FRANCO MATTES (0100101110101101.ORG): LOL”, Fabio Paris Art Gallery, Brescia, January 2007. Texts in English and Italian.
M. Bittanti, D. Quaranta (editors), GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames, Milan, Johan & Levi 2006. Texts in English and Italian, hardcover, 454 pages, 20 x 17 cm, 32,00 €, ISBN: 88-6010-010-0.
Domenico Quaranta, NET ART 1994 - 1998. La vicenda di Äda’web, Vita & Pensiero, Milan, March 2004. 192 pages, 14,00 €, ISBN: 88-343-1971-0.
Luca Lampo (ed), Connessioni Leggendarie. NET.ART 1995-2005. Texts by Marco Deseriis, Domenico Quaranta, Luca Lampo. Catalogue of the show, Mediateca di Santa Teresa, Milan, October 20 - November 10, 2005. Ready-made, Milan 2005, 21x21 cm, 120 pages, Creative Commons Licence 2005.
Domenico Quaranta, “GENERATIVE ars”, In C.STEM, catalogue of the exhibition, Turin, 32 Dicembre / AB+ Club, June 1 – 2, 2006. Followed by interviews with Marius Watz, Fabio Franchino, Alessandro Capozzo & Limiteazero.
Domenico Quaranta, "The Central Point of everything is not man, but rather the survival of the system". An interview with Davide Grassi, in I. Ivkovic, D. Grassi (eds), Demokino. Virtual Biopolitical Agora, Aksioma - Maska, 2006 [Transformacije Series, n° 19]. Buy it on the Maska website.
Domenico Quaranta, “When the limit is set to zero”, in 0006_Limiteazero, texts by A. Caronia, D.Quaranta, M.G.Mattei, M.Mancuso, C.Gaggiotti, V.Campanelli, A.Ludovico, l.Taiuti. Hublab Editions, 2006.
Domenico Quaranta, “Remediations. Art in Second Life”, in HZ Journal, #11, December 2007.
Domenico Quaranta, “A leap into the void: interview with Second Front”, commissioned by Rhizome.org, published in Rhizome, April 16, 2007.
Domenico Quaranta, “LeWitt's Ideal Children”, in Hz Journal, # 9, January 9, 2007.
Domenico Quaranta, "F FOR FAKE: Or how I Iearned to manipulate the media to tell the truth", in Emma McRae and Maria Rizzo (eds.), MESH 19. Global/Regional Perspectives, Australia, September 2006.
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