The outmoded in contemporary digital culture: on Claire Bishop’s 'Digital Divide’

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Publication details

Hill, W 2013, 'The outmoded in contemporary digital culture: on Claire Bishop’s 'Digital Divide’, Proceedings of the Inter-discipline: AAANZ Conference 2013, Melbourne, Vic., AAANZ, Melbourne, Vic.

Available on Open Access


In a 2012 Artforum essay titled “Digital Divide: Whatever Happened to Digital Art?” Claire Bishop, the well-known art critic and associate professor of art history at the City University of New York, asked: “While many artists use digital technology, how many really confront the question of what it means to think, see, and filter affect through the digital?” Bishop’s essay, which provoked much criticism from digital art advocates, reflected on contemporary culture’s pervasive interest in “the analog, the archival, the obsolete and predigital modes of communication,” as signified by the proliferation of retro or vintage aesthetics. Limiting her argument to mainstream contemporary art, Bishop suggests that, over the last 20 years or so, the artworld has shifted its perspective on digital art – from the hype about virtuality in the 1990s, to the current situation where contemporary artists are more inclined to employ digital media as discrete tools within their installation or sculptural practices. The proposed paper will detail these issues pertaining to Bishop’s essay, in attempt to provoke discussion about the nature of contemporary digital art, and its relation to outmoded forms and technologies.