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Roy Ascott

Behaviourables and Futuribles

This article is excerpted from Telematic Embrace written by Roy Ascott, and edited by Edward A. Shanken(2003), Berkeley Los Angeles London: University of California Press.

When art is a form of behaviour, software predominates over hard-ware in the creative sphere. Process replaces product in importance, just as system supersedes structure.

Consider the art object in its total process: a behaviourable in its history, a futurible in its structure, a trigger in its effect.

Ritual creates a unity of mood. We need a grand rite of passage to take us from this fag end of the machine age into the fresh new world of the cybernetic era.

Just as our environment is becoming more and more automatic, so our habitually automatic behaviour becomes less taken for granted and more conscious and examined.

Now that we see that the world is all process, constant change, we are less surprised to discover that our art is all about process too. We recognise process at the human level as behaviour, and we are beginning to understand art now as being essentially behaviourist.

Object hustlers! Reduce your anxiety! Process culture and behaviourist art need not mean the end of the object, as long as it means the beginning of new values for art. Maybe the behaviourist art object will come to be read like the palm of your hand. Instead of figuration—prefiguration: the delineation of futuribles. Pictomancy—the palmistry of paintings—divination of possible futures by structural analysis. Art as apparition? Parapsychology as a Courtauld credit?

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This article is from the free online course:

Taoism and Western Culture

DeTao Masters Academy