Huyghe's work and presence theory

Huyghe’s work was included in both the show and the catalogue of Future Cinema, but evidently he is not the sole artist who is interested in questions of presence and representation, truth and fiction, reality and simulation in the field of art and media culture.

I take his work as my case study, because the artist not only works these crucial issues through on different levels of complexity, but also addresses the broad issues that a journal such as AI & Society is interested in, namely how contemporary media conditions impact society at large in a cultural, political, ethical, aesthetic, and even philosophical sense. An additional advantage of Huyghe’s work is that it is recognized by both art history and the rival field of (new) media studies. One of the main conclusions of my dissertation, The Problem of Media of Contemporary Art Theory (1960-1990), is that a polemic antagonism has developed between art history and media studies in the postwar period since Clement Greenberg’s “Modernist Painting” (1960) and Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media (1964). This seemingly never-ending rivalry, however, is unproductive for both fields. Huyghe’s work builds one possible bridge between the contesting disciplines of art history and media studies, because a full analysis of his oeuvre requires concepts and methods developed in both fields. More specifically, Huyghe’s work asks for being interpreted through current presence theories that can do justice to the medial scope of his oeuvre in addition to the methods developed in art history, theory and criticism. Presence theory is an interdisciplinary field of study that has developed into a discipline of its own within the field of media studies. Presence theory does not reconcile to the fact that reality has vanished “behind the mirage-like screen of the media (Krauss),” but rather tries to develop new concepts and tools for analyzing the underlying screen condition and its implications for the experience of presence.

Sjoukje van der Meulen