Techflaneurs and Fakirs
Art on the Other Side of the Digital Innovation Divide
In this article we examine four international artists whose art has its origin in everyday life and its concerns. The story of this art should be rewritten in terms of a historiography of the average underprivileged person, who does not reap the benefits of a discriminatory economy. Artists discussed here, namely, Daniel Cruz (Chile), Gilbert Prado (Brazil), Kausik Mukhopadhyay (India), and Probir Gupta (India) have been creating art on the impoverished side of the digital innovation divide, within their own respective niches and horizons of belief. Discarded gadgets, scraps, broken circuits or sensors, microphones, and other junk are incorporated to create fragile but impactful installations. Junk animism and low-fi artificial intelligence often inform their work. Such artists do not inhabit traditionally-defined borders of nation, class or identity; rather, they inhabit spaces across fault lines which divide and exacerbate human society from within. Cruz’ Surfonic, for example, operates on internet gateways that fall outside the reach of global communications industries, while Mukhopadhyay uses scrap or junk media for his installations. These artists’ commitment to an art of voluntary defeatism upends a culture of spectacle. The artist is like an underdog flaneur or technological fakir, reviving human interest against the greed and pretensions of a global art market.