Art in motion: masterpieces with and through media

Exhibition Art in motion explores the development of media art through a selection of important instrument-based masterpieces from photography to cinematography and sound art; theater of machines and projections; radio and television art; video art; media action and Fluxus art; and the networked and collaborative art practices of recent decades. This exhibition, organized by ZKM | The Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe is part of the major exhibition “Topologies of the Real: Techne Shenzhen 2023” at the Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning.

Art in motion focuses on the question of how technological media has changed our perception – from the first camera lens to the new possibilities of perception thanks to digitization. The works presented in the exhibition have not been selected on the basis of the classical concept of painting-oriented image, as this always tends to push new media back towards traditional visual arts and makes it difficult to understand the development of media arts. The co-evolution of wheel-based technologies such as clockwork and calculating machines, transportation machines such as cars and trains, and imaging machines that not only created moving pictures, moving sculptures, and moving spectators, but also ushered in a shift to electromagnetic production, storage and distribution media, is an area that is still an open research field. Therefore, it is important to deepen the knowledge on the development of this art genre through the presentation of selected canonical works.

This “operational canon” is radical in many respects, not least in its inter- and trans-media claim, which bypasses strategic genre divisions such as video art, film art, media installation, and web art, and focuses rather on connections and interrelationships. The exhibition therefore shows the connections between early avant-garde film, cinematographic art as an illusion of movement, and kinetic art, the art of true movement. Moreover, the closed-circuit installations of early video art are closely linked to the theories of cybernetics, the science of control, regulation and messaging, which in turn accelerated the development of computer and digital art.

These connecting lines of development were first presented in Art in motion in a coherent overview. In this way, the exhibition also looks at the current thematic areas of today’s media-saturated society. An important emphasis is placed on the democratization of media art, which began in the 1960s through the active inclusion and participation of the public in interactive works of art.