Abstract Details

Idealist Realism  Christopher Wittum (San Francisco, CA )   C24

In this paper I develop a new theory of digital culture called idealist realism. The term refers both to a distinct art historical period of the present and to a novel aesthetics drawing on philosophy of mind, phenomenology, and political theory to understand social media and internet production and distribution as its works of art. The aesthetic argument develops new concepts drawn from panpsychism, neutral monism, quantum theory, and neuroscience to analyze internet art and art on the internet, with special (meta)reference to the New Age aesthetics associated with consciousness studies and esoteric popular culture, which I compare to modern and contemporary art as practiced in museums, galleries, and academia. The periodization argument features three proposals for the arts and humanities: a transition from the concept of space in postmodernism to one of consciousness in digitality, an accompanying replacement of the well-worn postmodern critical dominant of late capitalism with a constructivist analysis of contemporary liberalism, and an analysis of the position of consciousness in the various realisms, materialisms, and idealisms found in historical crossovers between philosophy and art. The paper concludes with provocations for further research in a book-length project on present relations between liberalism, capitalism, and digitality.