It seems more and more things are becoming virtualized and immaterialized (for instance, see the demonetarization and immateriality of our economic world: the ‘cyber economy’), and the issue of curating immateriality in the art world is just yet another one of these streams. Joasia Krysa points out this phenomenon of transformation to immateriality in chapter 1 of Curating Immateriality:
“For Pasquinelli too, control and exploitation have become more immaterial, cognitive and networked, and as a result more totalitarian. In his essay ‘Cultural Labour and Immaterial Machines’ (herein), he describes a scenario where:‘Meta-machines are ruled by a particular kind of cognitive labour which is the administrative, political, and managerial labour that runs projects, organises and controls on a vast scale: a form of general intellect that we have never considered, and of which the central figure in the second half of the 20th century became that of the manager’.”
People think that we are pursuing more 3 dimensional, and even 4 dimensional (for example, virtual reality) worlds, however, ironically we have been pursuing less dimensional images naturally throughout human history; from the object (3 dimensions) to painting/drawing, word/number (2 dimensions), and now to the pixel (1 dimensional) In some aspects, the curation of immateriality approaches 0 dimensionality; where is the content?
What we think of as 3D images and even virtual reality is also all made up of (non-existing) 1D pixels. It seems that relating to software systems (ideas) has become more valuable than the hardware (traditional object-based) relationships. If time-referential media (hardware) is object generated, then space-referential media (software) is knowledge, information, and idea generated. Time-referential media is therefore material, so that it can last longer physically; however, it has to be attached to a point in space. Space- referential media is more immaterial, so that it may spread wider, however, it does not exist physically; virtual images or data on CDs, DVDs or the internet are more fragile than the time- referential Sphinx of Egypt.
Redistribution and transformation of value is becoming flexible and informative. Immaterial forms in contemporary art are more malleable that the traditional material forms of art. Immateriality is more reformable, and abstract, not tangible like materiality; materiality has a limitation in time, so that it cannot be changed.
Curating Immaterialit: The Work of the Curator in the Age of Network Systems, Various contributors, Edited by Joasia Krysa, Autonomedia, 2006