Kelly Baum on obsolete technologies and anachronistic motifs in contemporary art

On October 18th in Athens, a talk by Kelly Baum on obsolete technologies and anachronistic motifs in contemporary art.


“Over the last two decades, artists have demonstrated a fascination not only with history and the past, but more specifically with the incongruous and non-synchronous—that is, with styles, media, and themes that are deliberately out of place and consciously out of time. For these artists, the outmoded is a form as well as a medium and a subject.

“The appeal of the outmoded manifests itself in art that utilizes techniques such as silhouettes, shadow puppets, stop animation, clay-mation, 16 mm film, slide projectors, and 8 bit Nintendo cartridges, among others—techniques that lend themselves, generally speaking, to deskilling, awkwardness, and low production values. The best of these works are self-reflexive, by which I mean they embrace and reflect on obsolescence simultaneously. Such works are important to the field of art history for other reasons as well: not only do they suggest the ways in which artists position themselves vis-à-vis the past in order to better understand both the present and future of art, they also address the relationship of contemporary art to time—specifically to the present or to what is often referred to as contemporaneity.”