Art in Crisis

In 1967, reflecting on the golden era of television, Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan declared: “At the high speeds of electric communication, purely visual means of apprehending the world are no longer possible; they are just too slow to be relevant or effective.” Half a century later, Hito Steyerl—writing in a world that now includes the internet, artificial intelligence, big data and Bitcoin—confirmed: “Not seeing anything intelligible is the new normal.” We are in the process of a total collapse in visual representation. Images are merged beyond recognition with an avalanche of information, then networked and multiplied through sprawling digital and capital infrastructures, by algorithms that sit on top of other algorithms. Steyerl’s description of this as the “new normal” in her latest essay collection, (2017), comes as a somewhat reassuring reminder that you are

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