Art as research: to sense the here and there

In annual international art events like Ars Electronicanote 44 , DEAF note 45, ISEAnote 46 , artists present their latest work in which technology plays a crucial role. Although it is not formulated in this way, these art works can also often be understood as research into presence. Research labs that work from the perspective of art, like STEIM (NL), IRCAM (FR), V2, (NL), the Waag Society (NL), Survival Research Labs (USA), Makrolab (Slovenia), Performing Arts Labs (UK) and SMARTlab (UK) contributed by developing applications, creating performances, and by writing about their work over the years which challenged the imagination and our sense of aesthetics as well as thinking about digital technologies. Coming from the worlds of music, film, video, games or the Internet, artists created revelations that had not been seen before.

In the 20th century Art and Technology have combined into a tradition in their own right. Art is fundamentally concerned with perception and the senses and presence technologies play with these. Several art works have changed the perception of many people concerning the way technology is shaping our world and invading our bodies.note 47 The research in the arts has contributed deeper insights into presence, creating unusual experiences, which raise more philosophical questions.

The art world mostly functions on funding structures. This guarantees a certain freedom even though funding is also always limited, bound to a fixed sum, which has to be spent in a certain amount of time. And in this time, with this money, it has to produce a presentable work. But in the arts the question of how soon a profit will be generated because of the work is not asked. Artists have been given the social task of approaching the truth with all its rigour from their own individual perspectives; as long as they share their results and these results are appreciated by their peers, they are successful.