FMS85C Week 2: Art and Satellite

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Art and the satellite in the 80s was a ground-breaking discovery for many users during the time. As Paik describes, satellite art had the ability to transcend geographical regions and also introduce new relationships between already-existing things. The idea of weaving together different ideas and minds, or “thinks and minds” as Paik describes it, must have been perplexing and exciting to some—to amass all the world’s intelligence and have it play in conversation with each other must have been a far-fetched and exciting idea in these early days of satellite art. But, what makes me curious is, what is it that defines ‘satellite art,’ and what ‘art’ are we speaking of?

As Paik clearly points out, “Satellite art in the superior sense does not merely transmit existing symphonies and operas to other lands;” rather, he writes it as being the way “to achieve a two-way conversation between opposite sides of the earth; how to give a conversational structure to the art … [and] how to play with improvisation.” This merely sounds to me as if satellite art is a means of creating dialogue with others from across the globe—much the same of our social networks today. What makes it ‘art’?

But, as I view art as a means of expressing oneself and/or providing a statement or opinion on something, satellite art seems to me to just be a way for two parties to be able to interact with each other. I think of it as a huge telephone line or e-mail sent across nations that merely transmits information. After all, a satellite sends signals out into the air to grab connection from elsewhere, and transmit that information into another device so the receiving end gets the sender’s information. Much like television sets, satellites transmit information, but what makes it to be an ‘art’?

As Paik goes on to further write about ideas in conversation with each other, I imagine that two minds are being fed more and more information from an end, in which a greater awareness and understanding of some idea is introduced and/or understood. Now, this sounds like the Internet database to me, in which so much information is stored on databases and new knowledge is able to be grasped. But, what further stroke me was when Paik mentioned “the satellite will accidentally and inevitably produce unexpected meetings of person and person and will enrich the synapses between the brain cells of mankind,” in which I understood to be lucky chances. The idea that fate can lead two people to meet each other—whether for better or for worse, for no reason or for the greatest impact on one’s life—seems like a beautiful idea. Perhaps Paik finds the ‘art’ in ‘satellite art’ in that exact, fateful meeting. The idea that two ideas can interconnect and weave together in conversation and unison and difference, all at the same time, with all these different minds and cultures and diversities and backgrounds, is perhaps what makes satellite art an art.

As I believe art to be a form in which individuals can respond to life, satellite art has become known to me to produce what life is. Life is experience and knowledge of different minds coming into contact and conversation, and art is that expressive and active medium that is a response to something. In the vaguest of senses, satellite art has its beauty in the 80s of having impossibly brought the world together, made possible. When minds come into contact, they are interacting, and isn’t interaction all that makes up this life? As art is one of life’s best representations, satellite art—as Paik has made it known to me—can be a representation of a form of life itself.

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