The 2017 iteration of our core module Imagining the Image, which started this month, focuses on one particular case: the 1985 manifestation Talking Back to the Media, which took place in Amsterdam encompassed an exhibition, a publication, public events and cable TV programmes, among other components. Based on a concept by David Garcia And Raúl Marroquín, with a collaborative institutional network that included Aorta, De Appel, Kriterion, Shaffy Theater, Time Based Arts and VPRO radio, TBTTM brought together contributions by artists ranging from General Idea and Hans Haacke to Louise Lawler and Ulises Carríon.
The project’s title, with its focus on “talking back” to “the media,” suggests a focus on speech acts and on linguistic interpellation. However, the project occurred at a historical moment marked by debate over the triumph of (audio)visual media, especially television, and by debates about postmodernism, which Fredric Jameson considered to be marked by “the logic of the simulacrum, with its transformation of older realities into television images.” Jameson’s use of the term “simulacrum” is itself clearly indebted to Baudrillard, whose fame was near its apogee in 1985. In a further twist, for Baudrillard and others in the realm of smiluation, the iconic or indexical aspects of images appeared to have become less relevant than their language-like codedness —the signifiers’ play of difference in the service of equivalence. In this course we will analyse TBTTM both within this mid-1980s context and within genealogies spanning back to the 1960s and 1970s (in media theory, appropriation art, institutional critique) and forward into the 1990s and beyond.
For this course we are collaborating with LIMA, which is Time Based Art’s institutional successor and which has kindly provided us with access to the digitized archive of TBTTM and to its video catalogue.