Cutting on action: Interference strategies in contemporary art practice

The domestication of creative software and hardware has been a significant factor in the recent proliferation of still and moving image creation. Booming numbers of amateur image-makers have the resources, skills and ambitions to create and distribute their work on a mass scale. At the same time, contemporary art seems increasingly dominated by ‘post-medium’ practices that adopt and adapt the representational techniques of mass culture, rather than overtly reject or oppose them. As a consequence of this network of forces, the field of image and video production is no longer the exclusive specialty of art and the mass media, and art may no longer be the most prominent watchdog of mass image culture.

Intuitively and intentionally, contemporary artists are responding to these shifting conditions. From the position of a creative practitioner and researcher, this paper examines the strategies that contemporary artists use to engage with the changing relationships between image culture, lived experience and artistic practice. By examining the intersections between W.J.T. Mitchell’s detailed understanding of visual literacy and Jacques Derrida’s philosophical models of reading and writing, I identify ‘editing’ as a broad methodology that describes how practitioners creatively and critically engage with the field of still and moving images. My contention is that by emphasising the intersections of looking and making, ‘reading’ and ‘writing’, artists provide crucial jump cuts, pauses and distortions in the medley of our mediated experiences.