NOUVEAU DADA, A DADA FOR THE NEW CENTURY

The parallels are irresistible. The need for Dada and means for Dada are all in place almost 100 years after the first Dada emergence.

The need for an antiwar and antiestablishment cultural movement has never been more intense as it has been in recent years. Just look at what has been going on since 2001. I mean the need for some action in Afghanistan was at least understandable albeit what we did there as a nation was almost comically excessive. Uncle Sam became a swaggering Saturday Morning cartoon bully, a fumbling giant Dudley Dooright with a saddlebag full of nuclear grenades, a mad Mountie that never got his man. But our invasion of Iraq was pure insanity. In fact our country full of blind rage after 9-11 went after Saddam like a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob that found a Afro-American in its little town after dark. It did not matter that the Afro-American in question was really a Cuban cigar dealer. I remember the hate mail and threats I got when I tried to distribute a bumper sticker two months before the invasion that showed an American flag upside down and said “Ashamed to Be American.” Many of the emails came from people I had thought to be reasonably intelligent and who are now questioning many of the policies of the Bush administration. Our country was (is?) temporarily (permanently?) insane; perhaps we need a little Dada to bring us out of it or at least entertain us in our delusionary state.

The means for a Nouveau Dada are emerging inherent in the technologies for both the production and distribution of creative expression. In the visual arts, Dada often superimposed everyday images into evocative collages. Digital photography and computer manipulation makes this an explosively simple task. In addition, the ease of digital manipulation of image and sound allows anyone with a little technological savvy the ability to create various forms of individualistic expression without the limits of the disciplined skills previously a prerequisite. Not only can anyone now do do Dada, the internet greatly facilitates the distribution of digital works without having to pay dues to the art parasites, the hierarchal establishment of publishers, agents, galleries, critics, art juries and traditional museum boards. Along with the creation of digital art, however, comes the loss of uniqueness of a given piece. Although this is problematic for the economy of the art elite, it provides opportunity for the art lovers of limited means. Is this not at least part of what Duchamp was after when he massed produced and signed his “Ready-mades” in the early 1900’s.

Most importantly, most of what can be done with digital media has not yet been done. Digital expression has an undeveloped potential to transform the contemporary cultural experience far beyond the boundaries of traditional media. Please join us in exploring the possibilities of Nouveau Dada.

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