At the beginning of the 18th century the public sphere in Europe was a broader communication model different from the old representational public. It implied a more active audience participation. Tendencies such as “image building” of a ruler in public and “improving reputation” demanded well thought out propaganda campaign with clear goals, targeting specific audience and accomplished through specific media. The Habsburgs insisted on the universal dimension of combat between Christianity and Islam during Turkish wars. The Emperor Charles VI considered himself the protector of the Christian world and counted on general approval in that battle. To ensure support of European powers and states within the Empire for the new war against Turkey (1716-1718), the Viennese court employed all its propaganda capacities that included the use of printed visual media. Considerable production of maps, siege views, panoramas and engravings with battle scenes were part of the propaganda campaign. War events significant for the Emperor and the state politics were commemorated by various visual products meant to influence public through “media strategy”. The intention of the highest court officials was to “win” wider European public and public within the Empire for the Emperor’s crusade mission with prolific printed production and its distribution. Mass production of graphic sheets was relatively fast and cheap, its distribution was easy and that made it suitable for informing and propaganda. The media campaign targeted the public in the Empire, especially German principalities that had not provided Habsburgs’ military forces with arms. The campaign appealed to the German solidarity and dynastic patriotism. Propaganda that targeted wider European public was aimed to win universal approval and support. The Viennese court campaign was well received and became a practice of many European courts to commemorate their participation in “glorious victory of Christianity”, and independent publishers saw profit in their publishing.
After the Second World War and in the period of reconstruction, requests for artists and their art, as well as views of the Communist Party on the issue, were very present in the Yugoslav press. Art, as a property of the people had to be adapted to the demands of time and should reflect, explain and document reality, in the form accessible and easily comprehensible to the ordinary man. Only in this way art was considered to be a fairly and influencable actor in the raise of socio-political and ideological consciousness. Press as a mass medium, which includes narrative and visual content, was an ideal carrier of ideological messages. Artists and cultural workers and their art were presented in the press in accordance with the cultural policy of the period of reconstruction and tasks the First Five-Year Plan set to the artists. Tours of Russian artists followed the publication of photo-reportage in the press, and cover pages often presented paintings of the Soviet artists representing the themes from the October Revolution. In the early postwar years, showing of the local actors was conditioned by their film and educational role according to the current cultural policy. The conflict with the Cominform declined the Soviet cultural influence, which then dominated. Motives for presentation of the artist as deserving individuals were their successes abroad and matching of their artistic choices in a climate of socialist realism. The panoramic photo of the Louvre on the cover page of Duga magazine in 1950th symbolically marks the beginning of cultural and artistic cooperation with the countries of the Western Europe and the U.S., announcing a new cultural policy.
The functions that have been traditionally ascribed to visual arts, today belong to the mass communication media, when it comes to the theoretization of the spectacle as a present mode of cultural visibility. This assumption is probably due to the new understanding of paradigmatic pieces from the history of art, as well as the current marginal place of visual arts in social life. In this paper we will try to locate the conditions of such an overtaking of the ‘authorizations’ or else, the consequences of the transfer of functions of communication exchange and appearances from the field of artistic experience to the sphere of new electronic platforms, and embodied media ambience that is being generated by them. This is not just a plain change of the field, since every media surrounding brings its own policies. Therefore, the problems we are going to address deal with the heritage of visual arts in the present time and their current status in relation to the existing aesthetization of the reality. Thus our goal is to question new, unlimited possibilities given or imposed to the visual creativity, dispite the imperatives of its specialization brought about by the contemporary dominant order of global market.
The text refers to specific forms of representation of visuality and visual works of art in new social media, or more precisely on Facebook, currently the most popular net of the type. Refering to characteristic examples from the actual media practice, the author demonstrates two types of conditionality connected to “transfer” of visual information from the classic media and institutional environment of museum and gallery exhibitions to the domains of syber space and social net communications.The first conditionality is defined by the technology as such, i.e. the structure and specific forms of communication or the expected users behaviour on the Facebook; the other is marked by digital and multimedia approach to aesthetics and, more often than not, by the aesthetic dilettantism of users’ expression on the net. In this sense, the technology eases and democratizes the aesthetic expression of the Facebook users, but in the same time threats to impoverish the aesthetic dimension of transfer and exchange of visual messages in this media, and reduce it to “obsolescence” of expression, kitsch and trash aesthetics, with final result in general degradation of aesthetic taste visible on the Facebook social network.
The paper explores the strategy of social engagement of artists in the digital arts. Digital art is being developed as an artistic practice that arises in the context of digital technologies and their impact on the environment. Digital art relies not only on the technical possibilities of new technologies, but also on the analysis of their impact and understanding. The development of digitization and information technology has not only opened new approaches in processing image, sound and text, but also enabled the development of cyber-space, which is developing not only as a specific area of possible actions, but also as an object of artistic analysis. Hence the digital art opens up completely new topics, such as artificial intelligence, telepresence and telerobotics, databases, Internet activism, video games, narrative hypermedia environment, social networks, virtual worlds, etc. Cyber-space has been recognized as a new environment that can be artistically shaped and in which it is possible to achieve artistic actions in response to the existing social relations. Using new media, an artist rejects both the position of chronicler and critic of contemporary society. He becomes an active factor in creating a cyber-environment, while reinterpreting models of perceiving and understanding of online communication and web media.
Shaping the national identity in the 19th century led to the constitution of the national pantheon where, in addition to the heroes of the past, were also the heroes of a new era. In the formation, upkeep and expansion of the cult of national heroes, the roles of art and visual culture were very important. The heroes were made known all over the nation through artistic representation. Mass audience did not require a representative art and therefore the possibility of serial and industrial duplication of images of national heroes and important historical events were of particular importance in the construction of a private national identity. As the hero of letters, who distinguished himself in fighting for the Serbian language, Branko Radičević became one of the most celebrated Serbian poets. As Radičević died in Vienna, an essential moment in the process of heroization of this poet was the transfer of his body to Stražilovo, where he was buried and his tomb became a place of memory and pilgrimage. A big public ceremony was organized during the transfer of the body and the funeral, accompanied by the inevitable artistic production of his portraits in various media, intended for mass audiences. Among these works, the greatest popularity came with the painting Branko and the Fairy from 1878, which became a patriotic icon and part of the decoration of many houses in Vojvodina. Although it does not belong to representative art in which one can simultaneously monitor the cultivation of the cult of national heroes, Branko and the Fairy and its replicas and variants present in the mass media were part of the art and visual culture of the 19th century nationalism. They were in the service of building national consciousness and creation of national entity that was organized and shaped by a set of images of the glorious past, heroes, people and territory. Visually shaped messages of such works reach general public in order to permanently store the hero in the collective consciousness.
The issue of Serbian heritage in the case of the Archbishopric of Karlovci is inseparable from that of the collective self-identity of this 18th century ethnia in the Habsburg Empire. The creation and construction of the Serbian view of its past and culture was not unique, but belonged to the greater mechanisms of collective self-awareness current in the European states at the time. The Baroque man was the first individual who fully explored the power and influence of the past on the present events; also the first to search for the borderline which separates the past from history, the individual or collective experience from the record for posterity. Henceforth, the Baroque man realized the full potential of the rewriting and editing of the past, of the fabrication of history and its integration in the greater narrative of validity and legitimation. And employed for the glory of faith, the Church, and the absolutism. But what is the past? And how does it differ from history? What is memory in relation to the past? Even today this presents a highly contested field among historians and historiographers, far more complex than it was seen in the Baroque age. It could be said, that awareness of the past is common to all individuals, and that it shares both the mechanisms and its subject matter with the concepts of history and memory. But the past is only at the beginning of the creation of history, since through history we validate and clothe it in the mantle of recognition, necessary for its acceptance – we institutionalize memory.
Semiotic theory explores the generation, transfer, operation and transformation of visual signs in social life, thus pointing at the cultural and contextual and not the „natural“ origin of interpretation. The semiotic reading does not seek to produce a separate interpretation of a work of art in the first place, but to explore the conditions of such an interpretation according to the referential field of cultural construction of the work itself. Instead of the esentially erroneous traditional understanding of the image as a perception record, semiotics suggests to treat the image as a visual sign system that is present in the inter-individual territory of recognition, and the meaning of which may not be separated from the context it belongs to at a specific moment. Recognition of the context as the text is one of significant contributions of the semiotic theory, the very context being produced as the text that consists of signs requiring interpretation. The visual text, as an open space for transfiguration, reinterpretation, production and exchange of meaning between the visual object and the observer, is produced only in the process of communication and cannot be conceived beyond the grand whole that we call culture. The nature of the visual text is to look at its recepient and to produce its meanings only in an encounter with him. In the process of reading no reader will appreciate a separate work, but will interprete that work on the basis of an entire social context in force in a given historic moment. By locating the visual phenomena in the realm of textuality, the semiotic theory showed that each observation understood as reading is in fact writing down a new text in the process of interpretation.
In the era of mass production and consumption, the emergence of new technologies and opportunities of quick and easy reproduction, Duchamp with his ‘readymade’ objects opens a new field of artistic activity which has allowed the artist not only to present industrial products as art, but also to keep their industrial, not an artistic look. This allows the creation of a new form of ‘creation’ and ‘exhibition’ – Internet which is, as a digital ‘democratic’ creation and other modern technology that goes with it, available to everyone, not artists only. Given that the artist is no longer the only one who possess the skill and technical knowledge, art is what artist create, share and exchange with other people in everyday life. Contemporary visual art as if became a mass practice. It seems that everyone is an artist today, since everyone creates everyday and exhibits its’ creations on popular web sites. Is this what Boys predicted with his thought that everyone is an artist? Life exhibits itself, and everyday life becomes a work of art. Process of self-documentation and its presentation to the public in the form of confession on web sites – the digital “religion” became a mass obsession, because it leads to a double pleasure, even though it leads to double frustration too. In addition to enjoying the cathartic exposure of their life and their minutes of fame, the Internet users also experience double frustration in the misappropriation as the byproduct of this exposure – re frustration that occurs when the ‘audience’ do not pay attention to the offered exposure. Contemporary visual arts and the Internet are increasingly becoming ‘time based’ – projects which key feature is longtime duration, repetition and documentation (archiving) of life itself. Artists and other people in the race to document all aspects of life, in fear of time passing and loneliness, are desperately trying to achieve mass communication.