Yes, a classic even though it was published a few years ago, one of those to be read and re-read, and each time with a cosmology of different references that open up new nuances, question you on new issues, draw your attention to ever different paragraphs. Boris Groys has sublime writing and boundless knowledge, his In the Flow, as we already guess from the subtitle – Art in the age of its digital reproducibility – is the ideal continuation of Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the age of its technical reproducibility, but not only. It also follows the bifurcation that, again starting from Benjamin, led Marshall McLuhan to his reflections on Understanding Media, taken up by Groys and brought to present times, for example by reasoning on the tepid qualities of the Internet medium.
The German philosopher ranges between art and philosophy, politics and the mass media, lifestyle and the Internet, in order to contour the meaning of the work of art in the 21st century, and this becomes a pretext for broadening the discourse on the meaning of man. If contemplation is already succumbing under the hammer-blows of technical reproducibility in Benjamin’s time, Groys shows us its corpse. But Groys does not only tell us about contemporaneity, he also reshapes the entire 20th century from it.
To give a few examples, in addition to the illuminating chapters ‘Technical Reproducibility vs. Digital Reproducibility’ and ‘Curating in the Post-Internet Era’, others that are worth reading in one go are ‘Installing Communism’, in which a well-structured connection is drawn between the communist utopia and the birth of installation art, in open opposition to Malevič’s theories, or ‘Under the gaze of theory’, an incredible philosophical reflection on the role of theory in the 20th century and the sense of ourselves that changes from the paradigm ‘I think therefore I am’ to ‘I think insofar as I live’.
How many more things could be said. The element that, however, brings together the reflections of the entire book lies in its title: today everything is ‘in the flow’, we are all of us willingly or unwillingly, works of art are, ideas are, and therefore everything is mutable even after its implementation. A quantum mechanics related to the humanities, a new way of existing, a new way of thinking about art.
Boris Groys, In the Flow, Verso, 2016