Boris Cuckovic

Courtauld Institute of Art

Project Title: Historicity of Production Forms in the Post-Medium Condition: Digital Source Materials in Trajectories of Contemporary Art

Supervised by Prof. Julian Stallabrass

This research project focuses on contemporary artistic practices involving digital forms of production, such as Jeff Wall’s compositions of digital photographs (since 1991) or Seth Price’s digitally assembled and executed ‘calendar paintings’ (2003–2004). It seeks to develop a historical and theoretical approach to such practices by examining how the emancipation of digital source materials as a self-contained category of the art object relates to the conceptual and historical frameworks of art history. More precisely, the hypothesis of this study is that a close examination of the roles and functions of digital source materials in artistic practice can offer the methodological and categorical infrastructure needed to position digital production forms in the broader art-historical framework of the ‘post-medium condition’, and in the process reconsider its definitions and narratives (Krauss 1999).

The research is structured into two phases, reflecting the conceptual and historical dimensions of the main research problem. The first stage examines a series of case studies representative of artistic responses to cultural and institutional politics concerning (digital) source materials. Following this, the second stage of the project compares the strategies identified in the contemporary case studies to post-war practices that challenged established definitions of the art object while employing industrial manufacture. In this context, my study looks into the novel aspects of digital production as well as its similarities and congruities with issues arising from the inclusion of industrial production into the art system. What role does this historicity of production forms play in the contemporary status of digital source materials in artistic practice as well as in its institutional framing? Conversely, does the contemporary artistic function of (digital) source materials affect the historical position of production categories established in post-war practice (e.g. diagrams of conceptual art or blueprints of ‘construction-type’ works)? The project thus operates under the hypothesis that conceptualizing the response of artistic practices to digital production forms through their enacted constellations of source materials can perform an art-historical function, ultimately providing means to comparatively and historically position these contemporary practices.

Research interests

  • Media practices in contemporary art
  • (Materialist) political aesthetics
  • Media theory in/of art-historical approaches and methods
  • Open-source cultural production
  • History of materiality (recent interest)

Conference papers

  • ‘Where Representation meets Agency: The Idol in Modern Art.’ Full presentation at the international conference on Presence and Agency: Rhetorics, Aesthetics and the Experience of Art. Leiden (the Netherlands): LUCAS, Leiden University Center for the Arts and Humanities in Society, December 13th – 15th 2012.
  • ‘Performing (with) Sculptures: Fluid, Sound and the Digital.’ Full presentation at the international conference Spaces of Identity in the Performing Sphere with Igor Dvorščak. Zagreb (Croatia): Organizing committee of the project »Discursive Identity in the Performing arts: Bodies, Personae, Intersubjects«, February 11th – 14th 2010.
  • ‘Open Source in Art: Originality, Art Process and Digital Preservation.’ Full presentation at theinternational conference INFuture2009: Digital Resources and Knowledge Sharing. Zagreb (Croatia): Department of Information Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb and IBM Croatia, November 4th– 6th 2009.
  • ‘Sculpture Between the Material and Non-material – Analysing Sculpture Materialized by Digital Technology.’ Full presentation at the symposiumOriginal in Sculpture. Klanjec (Croatia): MHZ – Antun Augustinčić Gallery, July 4th – 6th 2008.

Recent publications

  • Grounds for the Political Aesthetics of Cultural Commons in the Post-medium Condition: The Open Source Cultural Object (2014)Leonardo Electronic Almanac, special issue Red Art: New Utopias in Data Capitalism. Edited by Julian Stallabrass, Susane Jaschko and Lanfranco Aceti, MIT Press, ISBN 978-1-906897-28-4, pp. 22-42.
  • The Contemporary Challenge of Specificity (2012).The Edgar Wind Journal, Oxford University: Hillary Term 2012, pp. 27-29.
  • Autonomy Today (2012). TkH Journal for Performing Arts Theory 20: special issue Art and Public Good. Edited by Bojana Cvejić and Marko Kostanić, Belgrade: TkH Platform, pp. 16-21.
  • Performing (with) Sculptures: Expanding the Field of Sculpture with Fluid and Sound (2011). Spaces of Identity in the Performing Sphere, international conference proceedings. Edited by Sibila Petlevski and Goran Pavlić, Zagreb: Fraktura and the Academy of Performing Arts in Zagreb, ISBN:978-953-97568-2-4, 257-272.
  • On Digitally Created Sculpture: The Problem of the Original, the Model and Unique Pieces (2010). (Croatian title: Razmatranje skulpture ostvarene digitalnom tehnologijom: problem originala, modela i unikata.) Annals of the Antun Augustinčić Gallery, vol. 28/29: Original in Sculpture. Edited by Božidar Pejković, Klanjec (Croatia): MHZ, Antun Augustinčić Gallery, ISSN: 0352-1826, pp. 271-288.