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Why do artists use media?

Let us first of all look at these complex mutual effects from the artists' point of view. They have two decisive reasons for using media. The first motive lies in modern art's loss of wide-ranging impact, a fact that is as profoundly felt as it is clearly acknowledged. Since the emergence of the avant-garde in the late nineteenth century, and at the latest in the early twentieth century with the arrival of abstraction and Cubism, advanced art ceased to be generally acceptable to the contemporary population's aesthetic «common sense.» The use of new technologies like film and radio, which are potential mass media, is associated with the hope that the avant-garde can be released from its self-imposed isolation so that «art and the people can be reconciled with each other,» as Guillaume Apollinaire put it in 1912 in the conclusion of his book on Cubism.[2]

This hope is expressed in early programmatic demands for the artistic use of media like film, radio and television, for example Dziga Vertov's and Walter Ruttmann's designs for a new film art, Bertolt Brecht's radio theory, or the Futurists' Manifesto for television


La Radia» 1930). Here mass art becomes a political program under such completely opposing ideologies as the Russian Revolution and German and Italian Fascism. Walter Benjamin's epoch-making 1936 essay «The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction»[3]also addresses the social and political ineffectuality of the avant-garde and for the first time provides an all-embracing theoretical basis for a concept of art that is changed by the media: art should get over the limited quality of the manually produced original by using technical media, thus reaching a new audience and mobilizing that audience socially. These basic ideas, communicated when they were revived in the 1960s in media-theory essays from Marshall McLuhan to Hans Magnus Enzensberger, greatly influenced the development of media art.[4]hey act as leitmotifs for the pioneering days of video art, experimental film and audio art.

The second central motive for artistic work with audio-visual media lies in their aesthetic potential to create image and sound experiences that have never been seen or heard before, in other words art forms that go beyond all known genres. Thus in 1919

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