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Media and Materiality in the Neo-Avant-Garde

Jonas Ingvarsson and Jesper Olsson

Media and Materiality in the Neo-Avant-Garde explores the materiality of media technologies and their impact on the avant-garde of the late twentieth century.
The essays of the volume range between different art forms (literature, film, music, visual art, performance) and bridge the same contested cultural divides – high and low, ideology and form, art and everyday life – that were once challenged by the avant-garde. Ranging in topics from the Beach Boys to Herbert Eimert, from Scandinavian forests to Warhol’s Factory, the perspectives established and the operations performed in Media and Materiality in the Neo-Avant-Garde thus traverse a network of art and technology that has been crucial for more than half a century, and still is today.

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Lisa Otty: “I’ll be your mirror” 97

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97 “Mr. Warhol, do you mean to be funny?” Mr. Warhol said, “No.” “Mr. Warhol, do you mean to give offense? Are you hostile to society? Are you protesting anything?” Mr. Warhol said, “No.”1 In 1962, the year in which Andy Warhol hit the headlines by exhibiting his now notorious Campbell’s Soup Cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, media theorist Marshall McLuhan published his influential monograph The Gutenberg Galaxy. Both works constituted a reac- tion to the increasingly technological mass culture of post-war North America; the visions they articulated, however were quite different. While McLuhan – and especially in his forthcoming work, Under- standing Media – set out a utopian dream of a technological future in which consciousness would be downloadable and man would be freed from the limitations of the physical body, Warhol’s “assembly line” art seemed to announce a world in which the human would be first anni- hilated and then replaced by the machine. This is, of course, not to say that Warhol himself was pessimistic: indeed he famously embraced 1 An earlier version of this paper was presented in Stockholm in 2005. I am grateful for the insightful comments it provoked on that occasion from Jenny Sundén and Staffan Larsson whose remarks have inflected this version. lIsa otty “i’ll Be your Mirror” re-writing resistance with andy warhol 98 lIsa otty technology, blurring the divide between human and inhuman. “In the late 50s I started an affair with my television” he jokes “but I didn’t...

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