Beyond this introduction, this book is divided into three parts. Part I: How did we get here? Historical, theoretical, critical, and future-oriented perspectives on post-digital and post-internet art & education consists of five essays. The first one is Kristin Klein’s, Post-Digital, Post-Internet: Propositions for Art Education in the Context of Digital Cultures. Klein addresses the concept of digitalization and post-internet acts as symptomatic descriptors of digitally permeated cultures. Klein explores them both through a deep genealogy, as a technological process embedded in social, political, and historical interrelations. Similar to other authors in this book who explore these concepts, Klein references important scholars and artists, such as Barad (2007), Bridle (2013), Latour (2005), Manovich (1999), Olson (2012), and Vierkant (2010). Starting from a broad understanding of each concept and its interdependencies, Klein extends the discussion through four theses, specifically concerning aesthetic aspects. They are (1) distributed artworks, (2) hybrid subjects, (3) fluid materiality, and (4) blind spots. Each thesis leads to a proposition for art education dealing with digital and post-internet cultures. Klein concludes her chapter by highlighting art education’s potential in reflecting on digital and post-internet cultures, and in developing new models and methodologies for practical application.
The next essay is by Robert Sweeny. In Post-Internet Art and Pre-Internet Art Education, Sweeny starts by first describing the early history of the Internet, using historical and familiar concepts from Bush (1945), Castells (1996), and Manovich (2001), and argues that forms of interaction and engagement facilitated by this history have led to a post-internet condition. By inquiring into the history of (North American) art education in a networked era, Sweeny describes what post-internet art, as a distributed structure of knowledge formation, might offer. For example, Sweeny describes the release of Netscape Navigator in 1994 as allowing Internet access to an audience beyond academia, and points to numerous North American art educators who took advantage of this hypertext software. While he rightly points out that the Internet was used commercially and artistically well before Navigator, it did open up possibilities for art education that were previously underdeveloped as decentralized networks. Sweeny not only provides a list of art educators who used Internet technology to challenge the field, but also lays bare the divide between formal schooling, which is generally centralized, and the decentralized network of what one might call de-schooling.
Sweeny points out that post-internet art and its antecedents represent a challenge to previous artistic concepts that tended to view the utilization of networked digital technologies as either the fulfillment of utopian fantasies of ego destruction, or the dystopian realization of a posthuman nightmare. Sweeny specifically cites McHugh (2010) as someone who, early on, was highly critical of post-internet art. After referencing numerous artworks, Sweeny argues that, again, for formal schooling, there was a force that did not allow fully allow art education to fulfill its potential in a decentralized system (regardless of all the talk of rhizomatic structures). Sweeny ends his essay by suggesting that art educators might be attentive to the aspects of the internet that are most frustrating, most confusing, and most troublesome, and look to the ways that daily life folds together online and offline interactions in increasingly complex and confusing ways.
The third essay is an attempt to provide a broad and critically theoretical understanding of the particular concepts related to post-digital and post-Internet. In his essay, A Meditation on the Post-Digital and Post-Internet Condition: Screen Culture, Digitalization and Networked Art, jan jagodzinski problematizes the history and current state of screen culture, digitalization, and networked art. jagodzinski draws in large part on the theories of Virilio (2000) and Stiegler (2018), and highlights some of the difficulties they have articulating conceptual discourse about the current speed of technologies. Throughout his essay, jagodzinski also refers to the work of Deleuze and Guattari (2001), to make more complex the concepts, and argues that the contemporary post-media condition shapes the post-digital and post-Internet condition, where the media image dominates across screens and interfaces. Media convergence, jagodzinski states, is where every mass media eventually emerges to a point of becoming one medium due to the proliferation of hybridized communication technologies. Similar to Sweeny, jagodzinski reviews networked art installations as exemplars of resistance, that exemplify one aspect of the networked digital image, this time in relation to the concerns raised by Virilio and Stiegler. In the end, jagodzinski argues that there is ‘no going back’ to analog. He ends his essay on a question mark as to where to turn to next, for an art and education future.
The fourth essay in this section is by Konstanze Schütze, Bodies of Images: Art Education after the Internet. In her essay, she explores a series of thought experiments for an investigation of what one casually calls the image. By using the example of Internet memes, circulating political imagery, formations of classics in art history, as well as contemporary art, images are reintroduced as entities embedded in complex structural realities that are both driving and driven forces of culture. In this endeavor, Schütze renders them as bodies compiled from versions of themselves (bodies of images), explored as embedded in dissemination processes (memeplexes), and hence contoured as highly effective structures with sophisticated potential for transformation (image objects). She uses three major theoretical concepts that also resonate with other essays in the book (meme theory, object-oriented ontology, and network effects) for thinking through the re-interrogation of the image. In addition, Schütze’s suggestion is that images are bodies, and should be read as entities that actively, or inactively, form structural assemblages and maintain energetic human and nonhuman constellations, echoes jagodzinski’s ‘tech-no-body,’ albeit in a more productive claim. In the end, Schütze sketches a professional habitus is in which art educators are experts for image relations.
The final essay in Part I is Post scripts in the present future: Conjuring the post-conditions of digital Objects, by Aaron Knochel. Here, Knochel navigates the post-conditions of digital objects, from post-media to post-internet. As with the previous chapters, Knochel engages with theorists such as Deleuze and Guattari (1987), and explores how might making and learning, in art and media education, respond to pervasive connectivity that blurs online and offline distinctions. This theme—online and offline—again, is pervasive throughout the book, and Knochel offers his unique perspectives on speculating a future of algorithms, connectivity, and issues of access. In addition, Knochel makes an argument to advance a range of theoretical tools that may provide insight as to the immanent qualities of data and connectivity that impact making and learning in the arts has made. Similar to other authors in this collection, he focuses on posthumanism and post-theories constructed to provoke the dynamism of materiality. His distinctive take on materiality focuses on digital objects that are conceptualized to understand new opportunities for contemplating artists working in 3D modeling and digital fabrication. Knochel offers insights into the possibility of making meaning in this post-digital moment.
The next grouping of essays belongs to Part II: Why is this important for art education? Transdisciplinary networks, research, and subjectivities of the post-digital and post-internet. The first chapter in Part III is a dialogue between Grégoire Rousseau and Nora Sternfeld, Educating the Commons and Commoning Education: Thinking radical education with radical technology. Both authors understand education as a universal right and public good, especially through Sternfeld referencing her influence by Freire (1970), hooks (1994), and Laclau and Mouffe (1985), but also recognizing current forms of education as increasingly facing the processes of economization and privatization. Rousseau, on the other hand, discusses technology as understood as a common means of production when collaboratively developed, as demonstrated in part by Stadler (2013), but at the same time also makes the argument that it is taken away from the public and put into corporate hands. The dialogue comes in the form of a conversation that investigates the question of shared and common knowledge from the perspectives of an educator and an engineer, respectively. The back and forth between Rousseau and Sternfeld explores necessary convergences in radical practices of commoning, and possible future strategies for education and Open Technology. They ask how new models can challenge the neoliberal agenda and move away from established policies, and how a collective re-appropriation of the means of production could emerge within a post-digital society.
The second essay Part II is A new Sujet/Subject for Art Education by Torsten Meyer. In this important essay, Meyer first reviews some fundamental ideas of newer theoretical trends such as Actor Network Theory, Speculative Realism, Object Oriented Ontology and Posthumanism, that have been brought to bear in new generation of (post-internet) artists who no longer regard the radical change in the socio-technical conditions of digital media cultures as something special or new. This mirrors some of the previous discussions by authors such as Knochel, who focused on nonhuman actants and actors in art education, digital software, and art, and Schütze, who spent a significant amount of time referring to image objects, active objects, objects with agency, and especially compound objects. In addition, other authors in this book, such as Hahn, discuss new materialism, and the dualistic categorizations such as subject and object, and Klein considers digital transformation and reformation possibilities, such as digital materiality as an important area of research in art education. Like Meyer, all these authors refer to different contemporary theories on materials, nonhuman actors, and objects as areas in art education that acknowledge the seriousness and import of digital things and the idea that networks are not only digital.
As pointed out above, Meyer argues that these ideas have leaked into art education and also the very concept of what constitutes a ‘subject.’ He contends that the assumption that the humanistic conception of the human individual as a subject, and the associated understanding of education in modernity, no longer matches neither with the artistic practices based on collaborative networked socio-technical processes that can be observed in the post-internet culture. He states that changing mediality leads to changing subjectivity. Based on findings of the Cologne-based research project Post-Internet Arts Education Research, and using Lacanian and other theories, Meyer introduces the figure of the Sujet to make plausible a perspective on art-based learning processes that is appropriate to the respective overall situations in which these processes (can) take place. Outside of the Cologne-based group, Meyer’s work with Lacan also falls in line with jagodzinski’s work on new concepts of the subject (2007, 2012, 2017, 2019, 2020).
The subsequent essay in Part II is New Intimates, by Paula Kommoss. In this compelling essay about love, touch, sex, and most importantly the concept of intimacy, Kommoss considers how contemporary digital technology is dramatically changing the ways in which each is perceived and manifested. She argues that to be able to stay in touch, one is dependent on virtual forms of communication through computers and smartphones. These modes of online communication are increasingly generating a paradox of physical anonymity and virtual intimacy. Kommoss makes the case that increasing touch-responsiveness of tablets responds to the current concern that through a constant touching of the screen the human touch becomes redundant (whether that concern is warranted or not). Nevertheless, as she demonstrates through her deep interpretation of multiple post-internet artworks, including Trecartin, Mills, Stark, and Atkins, the notion of touch remains relevant, allowing for a critical investigation of the use of physical tactility within the contemporary art world. In addition, Kommoss takes a close look at the workshops of the educational duo soppa&bleck to offer an insight into art education’s approach toward the digital, and thus intimacy. In the end, Kommos’s chapter provides both a deeply theoretical approach and interprets contemporary post-internet art from through a range of approaches to bodily closeness in the post-digital age.
The next essay is Notes on Corpoliteracy: Bodies in Post Digital Educational Contexts, by Gila Kolb. The essay is grounded in the belief that learning and knowledge inscribe themselves into the body. Kolb, similar to Kommoss, argues that more attention to the body and touch should take place, especially in educational programs, and certainly as teachers and learners increasingly meet in digital learning environments. The essay is both a critical reflection on different ways we use ‘the body’ (or ways we are supposed to use the body) in formal education, and an exploration of current digital teaching and learning settings in the times of Covid-19. Kolb offers educators five examples of how bodies are read and understood differently in the digital world and asks us to reconsider our practices now, and in the future.
Following Kolb’s chapter is an essay on the perspective of media education theory and aesthetic education. In his essay, Aesthetic Practice as Critique: The Suspension of Judgment and the Invention of New Possibilities of Perception, Thinking, and Action, Manuel Zahn discusses some considerations of aesthetic practice or what he calls ‘media-critical practice.’ He describes media-critical practice as a reflexive-transformative practice with and in media, that no longer has a distanced, self-reflexive and rational critique of media, or media use. Similar to other authors, Zahn uses multiple contemporary and traditional theorists in his rethinking of critique, including Adorno (1959), Deleuze and Guattari (1987), Rancière (2006), as well as jagodzinski’s (2017) work on art and education after Deleuze and Guattari.
In addition to the aforementioned theorists, Zahn focuses heavily on Foucault’s (1992) concepts of critique and apparatus, further developed by Badura’s (2011) concept of aesthetic apparatuses. Like Kommoss, Zahn then approaches Trecartin’s post-internet artwork. Zahn explores ‘Re’Search Wait’S’ (2010) and makes the case that post-internet aesthetic practices require a new language of critique when dealing with the relation between humans and contemporary media-cultural environments. That is, like Foucault’s concept, critique is interested not only in elements and rules that constitute the social game of subjectivations and their regularity, but above all in how these rules can be changed. From this perspective, subjects no longer intentionally deal with media, but first and foremost become subjects in relation to medial apparatuses, as discussed in a different way in Meyer’s chapter.
Following Zahn’s text is the essay by Schmidt: What is the ‘Poor Image’ Rich in? Schmidt presents the potential of ‘poor images,’ a term coined by Steyerl (2009) for a contemporary critical mediation of art, especially in schools. Originally, Steyerl described the ‘poor image’ as a ‘copy in motion.’ This meant a visual replica of an original image meandering through the Internet, gradually losing information. Schmidt takes up this concept ten years after later and argues that they have become part of our everyday visual practice. Schmidt reflects on her own teaching practices with poor images, and how she used them as a potential starting point, not only as inspirational material, but also as raw material for further processing. After starting her own Instagram account @poorimagearteducation, Schmidt asked students to create an art meme based on works from art history.
Two students in her course used digital cut-outs from paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and created a speculative story about the painter’s supposed inspiration for his fantastic figures in the painting. They re-enacted these figures with their own bodies, and with objects found at the university, which they quickly and intentionally assembled into new ‘bad’ collages using Photoshop. Then, they juxtaposed these with the corresponding cut-outs. The students claimed they were original themselves, on which the art historical icon is based. In doing so, they intentionally use a trashy pictorial aesthetic and thus expose the traces of their working method. They transformed the image into a poor image, but also made a poor image out of themselves, using hashtags, such as #nofilter, #italiannana, and #deathbychocolate. In the end, Schmidt makes the case that because, in part of numerous developments, these poor images are no longer poor the way Steyerl once described them, and asks the readers to consider to what extent these images are relevant for art education.
The final section of the book is Part III: How to deal with it being all over and how can we create educational futures? Classroom and pedagogical practices examples of post-digital and post-internet art education. The first essay in the section is Educating Things: Art Education beyond the Individual in the Post-Digital, by Annemarie Hahn. In her essay, Hahn argues, similar to other authors, that current digital infrastructures have not only profoundly changed the way people communicate with each other, but also the physical conditions in which people relate to other people, people relate to things, and also things relate to things. In doing so, Hahn also builds on some of the same theorists as other authors in this book, such as Barad (2007), Latour (2014), and Foucault (1969). She makes the point that these emerging alliances between people and things have an impact on the relationships between human and nonhuman actors, and thus also on concepts of individual subjectivity. While subjectivity is also a pervasive topic, the essay, however, exclusively focuses on the exhibition “Co-Workers - Network as Artist” at the MAM in Paris (Lykkeberg, 2015). Using neo-materialisticSeeAlsoSeeAlsoNew Materialism theoretical approaches, Hahn argues that a new relationship can be observed between the artist-subject and the art-artefacts, which places the materials in the focus of the dissonance. This displacement is to the disadvantage of the individual artist-subject. In her chapter, these theoretical considerations are exemplified by an examination of the relations between people and things in the exhibition, particularly focusing on the understanding of digital materiality.
The second essay is Toward an anti-racist and anti-colonial post-internet curriculum in digital art education, by Timothy J. Smith. In the article, he examines how reframing post-internet art through anti-racist and anti-colonial lenses in digital art curriculum might cultivate critical and transformative artist practices for students. As discussed in the beginning of this chapter, anti-racist and anti-colonial approaches may offer frameworks for critically analyzing identity, ideology, and power relations by decentering the art canon from the Global North, and qualitatively shifting curriculum toward critical dialogues and social action. Through a retrospection of Smith’s own active and ongoing transformation as a teacher, as well as through an analysis of Tabita Rezaire’s post-internet art practice, this essay builds a pedagogical foundation for students to generate their own critical consciousness in learning and artmaking through a digital art curriculum.
Following Smith’s essay is the third in Part III, Embracing Doubt: Teaching in a Post-Digital Age, by Jan G. Grünwald. In the article, he makes the case that schools are still mostly concerned with transmitting a canon of what is important and with it produces a certain type of teacher. According to Grünwald, when teachers have to try to create a situation in class, such as imagining school as a futuristic endeavor, something new can emerge. However, since the concept of the teacher seems to remain that she or he is the one who owns knowledge (in contrast to students who don’t) it is understandable that teachers have doubts about creating a situation out of the usual boundaries of ‘I know – you don´t.’ In this essay, Grünwald argues that if we want to teach adequately for the post-digital age, we have to embrace doubt as a force that is anti-status quo, and falls out of the usual teleological approach of teaching. According to Grünwald, this approach translates into practice because the teacher does not know which outcome an educational situation will have, they must improvise. The essay focuses on this approach in the classroom, which denies classical power structures and the need for a dominant leadership of the teacher.
The next essay in this section is by Tomi Slotte Dufva, Creative Coding as Compost(ing). Slotte Dufva focuses on creative coding practices within a university-level art education context. Drawing from earlier literature and combining it with current research, his essay takes a feminist approach to creative coding and examines the importance and possibilities of different code-related art educational practices in the post-digital world(ing)s. Slotte Dufva’s essay discusses how the post-digital takes place by using compost as a metaphor for art education practices. More specifically, this essay introduces three examples from courses taught at Aalto University that together form the digital compost: humus, care, and waste. Slotte Dufva’s chapter closes with the discussion on further feminist approaches within post-digital within art education.
The next text is Helena Björk’s essay, Post-Internet Verfremdung. Her work also discusses curricula. Björk presents a school assignment as a possible approach to online visual culture, though creating Instagram fiction. Björk argues that the ease of uploading images on Instagram has meant that a whole generation grows up paying closer attention to visual language. At the same time, Instagram and other social media have come to dominate visual culture to the extent that we might consider how to unlearn what they may have taught us. In her essay, the internet is seen not only as a vital part of visual culture but also as a site of learning. When students create Instagram fiction, Björk argues, we can understand how social media operate both visually and socially. Parody and estrangement, or the Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt, are examples offered in this essay to examine this phenomenon, and possibly activate critical thinking.
To conclude this introduction, we raise the issue of generational shifts. For example, Meyer (2020) explains that when he asked his students and also his own children (of the same age) to communicate via email (as the editors and authors did when putting this book together), they “tell me clearly: I only use email when I need to communicate with old people. Boom” (para 10). According to this logic, the book you hold in your hands is already outdated since the moment it was printed, created as a PDF, or made ready for downloading on some device to read. Of course, that does not mean that there are not many good reasons to read it, in whatever manner. Similar to schooling, just because is often based on a system that passes on knowledge rather than one that creates knowledge, or challenges the very notion of knowledge, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
The theoretical work and pedagogical examples in this book might help you to deal with a post digital state of mind. It encourages readers to shift ideas of criticality when teaching art in the post-digital and post-internet era, and to broaden the understanding of teaching and learning beyond one’s own generational logics. The editors and authors of this book want to reach you, even if you see this book it in the same way Meyer’s students see emails, with our desire hope that you will make something with and from it. We hope that it not only meets new futures, but also helps to create them, again and again, even if, and especially because ‘it’s all-over.’
On the app Jodel, texts and pictures can be published, read and commented regionally and anonymously.
See: Michael Seemann, Michael Krell (2017) Digital Tribalism—The Real Story About Fake News. https://www.ctrl-verlust.net/digital-tribalism-the-real-story-about-fake-news/.