Aeropoet’ Bruno Giordano Sanzin, ‘In the Arms of Speed the Goddess’ (1924)]

The Algorithm of the Avant-Garde


I have been listening to the avant garde lectures from the New Centre and the definition of the avant garde was layed out as something as follows:

  1. a manifesto
  2.  a small group of people included in the movement
  3. a list of procedures or processes involved in art making
  4. a goal
  5. a list of things the movement is not (a list of negations)
  6. (I may be leaving a few points out)

One of the things that struck me about this definition and about the avant garde movements of Futurism and Dadaism is the relation between art and context and my favorite thinker of the moment Vilem Flusser.

Flusser, to recap , discusses the notion of the techno-image, or the image as created by digital processes. And in this new type of art, the old categories of judgements the old VALUES.  Thee lectures at new centre are called a geneology, and uncovering of the value behind our values – ala Nietzsche, so the notion of where do our judgements of art come from, our notions of value, is very relevant.

Again, Flusser, predicts that the techno-image is now judged according to process and context.  These are constructive elements of the techno-image.  How do I create the image, what is my goal in creating this image.

The meta definition of the avant garde above is a definition of art making in a technological age.  But where now we have a definition of what art is, we no longer have a definition of how we ought to judge it?

How should we judge this? I am not sure. I am looking at other similar processes like computational theory. (Which if you read this blog, you know I am obsessed in).  So in computational theory, we look at the set of problems that a certain computational rule solves, how large that set it, how much space and time does the computation need, is the computational set part of another set, and so forth.  How can we make these definitions more concrete and apply them to something like art?

I am also interested in the intersection of politics and ideology and the avant-garde- can we even talk about a separate sphere called ‘ART’ in the age of the techno-image?  The meta-algorithm for the avant garde above can be applied to any number of human endeavors from politics to business to art.  There is growing convergence within each discipline as they use the methodologies from one another to accomplish their goals. So does it even make sense to talk about art, economics, business etc, or must we just talk about movements – each within their own definition as so many possible sets of computational algorithms.  But of course, not all will be validated as to be included in one set or another. What these sets are remains to be seen…