It seems obvious that the properties of contemporary civilization and culture should at the same time be the properties of contemporary art. The matter is not so simple, though. In our time, there coincide features characteristic of the past or rather of many pasts, both more and less distant. Therefore, separating the old way of thinking from the new one is essential for our orientation in the world around us and the processes occurring in it; also, for our orientation in contemporary art.
One of the most perceptive analyses of the state of civilization available today is offered by Alvin and Heidi Toffler. They describe themselves as futurists. But in their understanding futurism is not fiction, as in SF. The future is now, around us, we only need to arrange, understand and interpret the developments that occur and the processes in progress. "The Third Wave" is the term coined by them to define a set of systemic (general) features of the future civilization and its present-day indications. Their conception includes also a number of intellectual tools that make it possible to surf the Third Wave.
The Third Wave is connected with sophisticated technology. Yet the inclusion in the Third Wave is not determined by new machines, epitomized by the computer, but by knowledge. Knowledge is understood here to be not only a concrete body of scientific-technological facts but also the domain beyond or between them, that is to say, theories, hypotheses, models and ideas. In this sense, mental pictures, presentiments, convictions, emotions, all that cannot be fully verified or realized, are equally valuable elements of knowledge as well. This kind of knowledge is represented by the very concept of the Third Wave, which the Tofflers themselves refer to as a "vision". Their vision is not an abstraction separated from reality, but is based on analyzing and associating data, creating new, surprising links between facts, and building a network of mutual influences and interactions. Conceived of in this way, knowledge has a lot of common with what philosophy traditionally describes as "spirit" or "spirituality".
It resembles also the project of hermeneutics by H. G. Gadamer, who proposed to include similar factors in the conception of truth. The Tofflers are not concerned with metaphysics, though, but with economy, politics, society, and family. It is also clear that all aspects of culture, including art, play a fundamental role in the creation of knowledge as defined by the Tofflers.
Two basic properties of the Third Wave arise from the above assumptions and notion of knowledge. Firstly, it is inevitable: it will reach everywhere, since there is no other way for civilization to develop than by means of technology. Secondly, its most important asset is man – the source of knowledge. The Tofflers call knowledge a "material". It is used to make the product of the Third Wave: information and symbols, or the forms and means of utilizing information. Ultimately, it is man, not machines that determines the shape of contemporary civilization – this humanistic message follows from their vision of civilization, and it is an optimistic prognosis, especially if we look back on predictions such as Huxley's Brave New World. The Tofflers believe that "the world will not go to hell", provided that certain conditions are met. As we learned it the hard way in Poland, it is impossible to combine totalitarianism with knowledge in practice, for systemic as well as economic reasons: totalitarianism is
ineffective and cannot by any means afford sophisticated technology.
The Third Wave is the post-industrial era, as contrasted with the Second Wave, or the industrial era. In the Tofflers' view, the two waves remain in conflict. Yet the result of the clash is a foregone conclusion. Modernism and the avant-garde movements identified with it were the art of the Second Wave. Industrialism had a fascination for modernism, and that quality is stated expressis verbis in its manifestoes and visual forms. The art of the Third Wave remains opposed to artistic modernism. Today, modernist thinking obstructs the changes of the Third Wave everywhere. The institutions and artists bogged down in modernist mentality are inevitably losing touch with the present, just as it is inevitable for the Second Wave to ebb and never return. But the Third Wave is only being born, its art has not gathered momentum yet, and the artists of the Third Wave are few in comparison to the army of Second Wave modernists. Both the former and the latter lack knowledge, or, as the Tofflers would put it, a vision.
It may be provided by a futurist analysis of artistic phenomena, which allows to isolate the indications of the future from the present. It will turn out then that those features are identical for the whole of civilization. What applies to economy at a global level and the level of a company, applies also to art as a part of culture and to a single artwork.
The end of modernism and the system of avant-garde movements in art is marked by conceptual art, art performed live and the expansion of the media. All of them have the duality characteristic of borderline phenomena: they belong to modernism and at the same time contradict it, and inasmuch as they are avant-garde, they are also the last avant-garde. In accordance with the modernist slogan of "art for art's sake", they appear as formal novelties, as the most radical solution to the problems formulated before, thus situating themselves in the sequence of avant-garde movements. On the other hand, by departing from the concept of an artwork as a coherent, physical object, which is equivalent to the abandonment of modernist formalism, they put an end to the evolution of artistic forms developed by the avant-garde movements of modernism. The artist replaces the form. Therefore, man becomes both the form and the source of art. The shape of art is determined by man, not by visual forms. The most important
consequence of the fact is that instead of searching for forms, one looks for content. Art has become dematerialised - the quality is common to those three ways of creating it. A contemporary work of art consists of space and presence. The equation "art is the artist" had originally formal character, but in time art took on the features of human life: it became changeable, relative, contextual as well as understated, illogical and allusive. There is no absolute in it, there are only momentary feelings, weak beliefs, fleeting impressions, notions, presentiments, convictions, emotions, or, again, what cannot be fully verified or realized.
All three artistic formulas exist blended in with performance art and installation art today. They are like expressions of the same language, used with no regard for disciplinary divisions which, just as political labels, have lost their significance. Art created live has not only retained the greatest autonomy but enjoyed the longest historical continuity as well. Of the many terms used in the past to describe that type of activity, "performance" survived in the language of art to the present, and it really is the legitimate heir to the whole history of live art. It has its genesis in modernism and thus it is a form of continuing the line of avant-garde movements in the present. Therefore, it has primary significance for the Third Wave art. Furthermore, for obvious reasons, it is the art closest to man. The traditional work of art was too static a structure, not mobile enough to convey the dynamism of life. Besides, avant-garde art was self-referential, it was an art about art. In the final analysis,
man always speaks of himself, even when he speaks of something else, makes references to God or abstract spirit – he cannot transcend his own human condition. After modernism, there arose a need for an art that told about man, designed to match the human scale. Art had to take on the features of life and adapt creative standards and procedures to it. And the information could only be supplied by live art forms.
Creative freedom was always a major problem in Poland, therefore art created live played an important role in culture. Since its origin, performance has played the same part in the field of visual arts. It is also appreciated worldwide as a kind of "Polish specialty". There are three generations of performance artists active in Poland and each of them gives it a specific character. Wladyslaw Kazmierczak belongs to the middle generation of Polish performers. He is doubtless the most active Polish artist on the international performance scene at present, widely known and respected in the world. He is also the author of the performance art festival called The Castle of Imagination, which has been held annually in the castle of Bytow for six years now, one of the few regular events of international significance in Poland that are devoted to the issues of contemporary art. As is usual with representatives of the middle generation, elements of both old and new approach to performance are intertwined in his
art. On one hand, his are classical performances based on the direct experience of man's psychophysical condition; Wladyslaw Kazmierczak is thus a successor to Zbigniew Warpechowski and other classics of the first generation of Polish performers. On the other hand, they are enhanced with the elements that introduce new motifs and points of reference into performance art. If the concentration on the formal, "carnal" aspect of presence in classical performance was a modernist quality, the use of it to build content, to establish meanings and a network of logical connections is wholly postmodernist. At the same time performance, contemporary performance in particular, is an instance of the art of the Third Wave, corresponding ideally to its civilizing parameters. Wladyslaw Kazmierczak is a perfect, "Tofflerian" example of the Third Wave artist. Even though the two waves collide in his work, the Second Wave is overcome, the qualities of future art prove stronger and defeat its traditionalist competitor.
To discuss the features of the art of the Third Wave, I will use the example of Wladyslaw Kazmierczak's performance, Pulp Fiction. The title points clearly and openly to the source of inspiration; the well-known film of the same title by Quentin Tarantino. The whole cultural content of the film was quoted in the performance. The element adopted from the movie literally and incorporated in the performance was music. The songs from the film's soundtrack were played back in succession to define the temporal structure of the performance: each was accompanied by an action of the performer involving the use of different props. The artist took advantage of the film's popularity. He assumed that the spectator knew the movie and could superimpose its narrative, its basic plot, on the narrative of the performance. The film is one story told from several points of view, or several stories taking place simultaneously. It is easy to imagine the plot extended to include more stories. The story related in the
performance may be regarded as one of such parallel stories. In that case the narrative was carried outside the screen and became parallel to the cultural presence and reception of the film. Most of the movie's narrative threads are woven round the relationship between man and woman. That was also the case in the performance: she (Ewa Rybska) stood on a high platform, acting in a rather casual way, dancing and blowing soap bubbles. He (Wladyslaw Kazmierczak) circled around her, carrying out various actions. Their essence was to examine his psychophysical condition in different ways. The element is par excellence a trait of performance, belongs to the classical language of that art. At that very moment the telling of the story becomes performance art, and all the props and formal means turn out to serve artistic purposes.
The artist's activities included symbolic gestures, such as the ostentatious and pompous presentation of the products of religious kitsch and mass entertainment, but there were also personal, everyday gestures, e.g. lighting a cigarette, and acts referring to the history of art, for instance to "Malevich's square" and "geometric abstraction", here cut out of a sheet of paper. The action became now dangerous, e.g. when he smashed panes of glass against his head, now comical, as he hit his forehead with an inflatable hammer or put on a funny mask. In the course of the performance, he showed his face to the spectators several times through a mirror with a special transparent lens that distorted the image. Those were elements of autoirony, of not treating himself and his actions too seriously, but also a suggestion of their many-sidedness. The story narrated in the performance was given a truly cinematic happy ending: to the rhythm of "make-out" music, He came up to join Her on the platform, where they had
a long and passionate kiss. The performance was discreetly patronized by one of the symbols of mass culture, Marilyn Monroe; the famous image-icon of her as a blow of air sends her skirt swirling upwards was hung by Kazmierczak on the wall at the very beginning. By adding to it the props he used in the course of the action, he created a sort of little altar of cultural devotion.
Contemporary art is subject to immensely radical and profound changes. The end of modernism and avant-garde system had artistic consequences which in fact hardly anyone realizes today, and it is even more difficult to imagine the future form of art and its mode of operation. From the start, the modernists predicted the end of art, yet it was always understood to be the end of a certain kind of art. At present, however, in front of our eyes, art is becoming something totally different from what has been regarded as art so far, not only during the period of modernism. A total and the most thorough redefinition of art possible is taking place. This new form of art cannot be described in familiar terms. The more so as our artistic vocabulary and network of concepts are mostly of modernist origin. Also, the very words "art" and "a work of art" seem applicable to the history of art only. A new language and terminology, adequate to contemporary art and type of imagination, has yet to be invented. It is not an
impossible challenge, however.
The adoption of the Third Wave theory as well as its vocabulary and system of concepts to examine artistic issues is an attempt to illustrate the transformation in art which we are now witnessing. The Tofflers admit that the Third Wave corresponds to the scope of the concept of post-modernism. Nevertheless, they consider it too static to express the complex dynamics of changes in contemporary civilization. It may be assumed then that applying a conceptual alternative to art will prove revitalizing to it and will open up new perspectives of thinking and interpretation. The Tofflers analyze a series of problem areas in which the changes of the Third Wave manifest themselves. The issues are crucial for contemporary civilization, and furthermore, they determine the shape of its future today. Their sum forms a wide panorama of contemporary culture. It is also a catalog of the conditions of thinking in and about our times. In the subsequent paragraphs I will discuss the key issues of the Third Wave enumerated
by the Tofflers, applying them to contemporary art. The order of presentation is the same as the sequence adopted by the authors in Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave, first edition in 1995, Polish edition in 1996, in the chapter "The Way We Make Wealth..." (originally included in War and Anti-War, published in 1993). It is the best and most lucid synthesis of the idea of the Third Wave of all the books by the Tofflers familiar to me. One more remark concerning the following text: one may have the impression that it contains many repetitions. They result from the fact that the questions discussed have been artificially isolated from the living organism of our civilization and culture, in which they function in a system of interrelations.
Factors of production:
"Factors of production" open the list of factors involved in the changes of the Third Wave civilization, which is logical, since we must not forget that the starting-point of the Tofflers' analysis is economy. But its subject – civilization considered integrally – is the same as in art. The main "factor of production" in the Third Wave economy is knowledge as opposed to land, labour, raw materials, and capital in the Second Wave. The Tofflers' definition of knowledge includes "information, images, symbols, culture, ideology, and values." Abstract, immaterial, "soft" factors dominate over concrete, material, "hard" factors. From the Tofflers' concept of knowledge it follows that art is in itself, as if by its nature, a factor of production in the Third Wave economy. In modernism, or the Second Wave art, the basic "factor of production" in the terrain of visual arts was form. Using the slogan "everything is art", avant-garde movements sought to exhaust all possible means and forms of making art. And even
though the very idea appeared at the beginning of the avant-garde era, it took up an entire century to carry it out. At present, the problem is closed. In the art of the Third Wave, formal, "hard" means are of no significance. The importance of art and a particular work is determined by "knowledge", or the connections between forms, things, objects. In a situation when, finally, "everything can be art", the mission of avant-garde movements has come to an end. Yet "knowledge", unlike the supply of forms, is inexhaustible. There will always appear new connections between forms, offered by life. A presence – any presence – is par excellence significant. The art rooted in human condition is in no danger of exhausting its resources of sense. The meaning of Wladyslaw Kazmierczak's performance does not lie in the mere fact of using mass culture and its symbols. What matters is the narrated story. The props are not important in themselves; what matters is the communication of content which they serve.
The composition reflects human interconnections, expressed both in the relations between the objects used and between the individual elements of the action and the acts and gestures that were performed. We can be sure that there is a bond between the heroes of Pulp Fiction. The performers are not actors. The situation (narrative) created (recreated) in the performance Pulp Fiction belongs to the "factors of production" determining life and art, constituting a component of "knowledge."
The Third Wave economy is based on "intangible values", or "knowledge", as opposed to fixed assets in the Second Wave. The value of the modernist work of art in the Second Wave consisted in its form. The significance of an avant-garde movement was attested by the formal innovations it introduced into the language of art. The modernist slogan "art for art's sake" means as much as "form for form's sake". Conceptual art – the last avant-garde – raised "intangible values", or, more generally, The Tofflers' knowledge-vision to the rank of art, but the act was given mainly formal, not sense-generating significance. The value of the work of the Third Wave art, in other words, of the post-modernist and post-avant-garde work of art, is immeasurable because it lies in the extra-formal sphere. Form is no longer an issue in itself, it has become a function of the sense of a work of art. Ultimately, the meanings contained in the work of the Third Wave art are determined by "intangible values", since those values are an element of the Tofflers' knowledge – the basis of the Third Wave. Consequently, the work remains ambiguous, not quite clear. Lack of explicitness presents the recipient with possibilities of interpretation, of establishing an intellectual relationship with the work. As for the artists, it enables them to interact with other works and, more broadly, facts of culture, as in the case of the performance Pulp Fiction interacting with the movie and its plot. The artistic value of the Third Wave work consists in the creation of sufficiently interesting, viable connections between forms, not in the forms as such. The connections, their "quality" and "content", depend on "knowledge." The form is designed to be as open as possible. The openness is a risk included in the artist's activity. Performance is intangible by nature, since it is based on relative existential values. An example of how "intangible values" function in the post-modernist art of the Third Wave is the form's dependence on the environment in site specific works, which applies to performance and installation art as well as to their combinations and all hybrid forms that blend styles, techniques, and tendencies. Meanings are created in the course of a performance or when we enter an installation and move about inside it, or as we are watching a video. We have certain feelings, intuitions concerning reception then, yet we can never grasp the whole, the one and only, absolute truth. Aware of these conditions of reception, the artists use the language of impressions, addressing the individual intuition of the recipient.
The Third Wave involves "de-massification" in favour of infinite diversification. The period of modernism in art is regarded as a time when artistic novelties were booming. In reality, however, avant-garde movements aimed at the uniformity of art, at introducing the order of the one and only correct style. That objective is reflected in the totalitarian rhetoric of their language, conspicuous in the manifestoes: each of them declared the ultimate solution to all artistic problems, claimed to invest world art with its final form. It proved to be one of the worst mirages of the avant-garde, and strict adherence to formal premises is now regarded as a sort of avant-garde academicism. During the reign of the particularly influential avant-garde movements the works of artists all over the world looked nearly identical. Such similarity is impossible today. Not only are the works of various artists diverse, but also the works of one artist often differ completely. The fact that art is based on an extra-formal
factor, i.e. knowledge as defined by the Tofflers, causes it to become individualized, even personalized: for each theme, each situation, a suitable set of formal means has to be selected. Any affinities do not result from working according to the same formal principles, but directly from the affinities of history, character, psyche, creative temperaments, and changes in life and fortunes. And the work of art is at once variable and invariable in so far as it is modelled on human condition. To avant-garde movements the artist (man in general) was less important than ideas. A work of the Third Wave is not created as a result of an aesthetic only, or in reference to some fundamental, ever-important artistic problem. The same applies to writing about art: it is impossible to write a seminal text, since they will all lose validity in time, and the ideas they contain will demand updating. The absence of absolute relationships leads to potentially infinite diversification of art. The possibility of change is allowed for in a work of art, anticipated in every artistic project. The forms and means of creation are used according to the requirements of the problem currently dealt with. Attention to the consistency of one's creative choices, so highly valued at one time, is of no significance today. What matters is the ability to react through art and to keep updating its substantial content. Searching for a motive to create a performance is not related to one's belonging to an artistic movement, but with individual experience. In our lives, we constantly challenge the reality that surrounds us, e.g. by making personal decisions or investing on the stock exchange. The artist draws also artistic conclusions from an experience. But for the relationship of the partners, the performance would never have been made.
Work is completely transformed in the Third Wave. In modernism, the artist's work consisted in a possibly original use of formal means programmed by a given avant-garde movement, i.e. in the optimal performing of an aesthetic task. In this sense, the work of an avant-garde artist does not differ from the work of an academician inclined toward classicism, as each of them relies on professional training whose aim is an artist's mastery of his specific technique. Besides, the participation in the avant-garde depended on an artist's declaration. In the Third Wave art, the form is unimportant. Lesser significance is attached to the work of art itself. Art is determined by character traits and the sum of individual experiences, or the matters that avant-garde movements situated outside the sphere of art in the strict sense of the word. The art of the Third Wave changes the character of the artist's work, which now amounts simply to being-in-culture. Chance occurrences, vicissitudes are more significant than
one's ability to draw. That is why artists so often challenge reality, for example, by making journeys, both literally and figuratively, to other cultures in search of different viewpoints. What is local grows in significance. The awareness of the existence of "different viewpoints" results in the conviction that the same work of art can in fact be a completely different thing. Individualization and personalization seem to be the essential changes in the way the contemporary artist works. An academy of art is not a school of life, whereas it is on life that contemporary art is modelled. The concept of a "work of art", denoting a single product, is replaced with "project", which is usually in hybrid form and can be adapted to the conditions of exhibition. Most importantly, a project is preceded by research into a given problem, and art is determined by its results. The acquisition of knowledge is the main part of artistic work. In economic terms it corresponds to an increase in the role of indirect labour as opposed to direct labor, e.g. on the assembly line. Projects can be freely extended in time and last until the moment the artist decides that the project has exhausted its possibilities. Consequently, the execution of the project changes as the research progresses, which necessitates the flexibility of formal means. Work is individualized and based on personal experience, not on the permanent features of an international style. The next step involves the transformation of research results, feelings, and experiences into information, that is to say, the selection of a set of forms – carriers of the information, e.g. the elements that an installation is made of, props and gestures used in a performance, images loaded on a WWW page, etc. The very execution of the performance, the act of giving it a specific form, was less important for the origin of the work Pulp Fiction than the discovery of connections between the projected content and the film, and the relationship between the film's narrative and the private "narrative" of the lives of Wladyslaw Kazmierczak and Ewa Rybska. Their collective performance reveals another aspect of contemporary artistic work; although the avant-garde stressed the point that its ranks were closed, the principle of the authorship of a single work remained intact, whereas here the authorship is not so important and may be partly ceded to the partner, since the form and formal innovation are of lesser significance than the individual experience behind them. It is in this sense that the Tofflers regard the Third Wave work as difficult to replace. The existence of a particular avant-garde movement depends less on the work of a single artist. Cubism or expressionism could subsist without the contribution of some artist or other, after all. As for the present, the subject of the Third Wave artist's work are cultural essences, and not art itself, as was the case in modernist art for art's sake. Every work or project is individualized, or specialized, and therefore a potential source of the Third Wave knowledge. Wladyslaw Kazmierczak and Ewa Rybska represent their own "point of view" and it would be difficult to say that they are representatives of "performance" or even "contemporary art", just as modernist artists were the representatives of the avant-garde.
Another feature of the Third Wave economy is innovation related to an immense quantity and diversity of production. Innovation has always been and will be important in art. However, contemporary innovation of the Third Wave is different from the innovation of modernist avant-garde. The subsequent avant-garde movements formed a linear sequence of artistic developments. Today we can easily reconstruct the development of art forms throughout the period of modernism, mark the beginning and the end of both the whole era and a particular avant-garde movement. At present, innovation does not consist in inventing forms, but in discovering their sense. Novelty is not determined with respect to an earlier form, but with regard to the current spiritual state, the pulse of culture and the world, and the state of knowledge understood according to the Tofflers' definition. Although the innovative power of avant-garde movements seemed extraordinary, it is insubstantial when compared to the situation in contemporary art. In post-modernist art of the Third Wave each work is an innovation, or, to be more precise, novelty appears each time a work, for instance, a performance, is executed. Because it is related to the course of life and human condition, the birth of novelty is natural, not doctrinal, as was the case in the avant-garde of the Second Wave. The principle of creating links between avant-garde forms was based on subordinating, preceded by the declaration of joining the appropriate course of the history of art. The Third Wave innovation stems from knowledge; as defined by the Tofflers, naturally. It is stimulated by being-in-a-situation and openness which promote unconventional thinking. Avant-garde movements produced new conventions, whereas contemporary art is concerned with discovering the rules that govern the play of conventions, with establishing relationships, and reacting to a given situation. In the performance Pulp Fiction the innovative element, which results from having "knowledge", is the very fact of creating connections between a cult movie and performance art. That type of connection is exemplified by the adoption of the movie Pulp Fiction as a metaphor aptly describing the present existential situation of the performers. The play of performance conventions was superimposed on the play of movie conventions; the means used in performance art were complemented with cinematic means. Avant-garde movements usually directed their innovative energy against the old aesthetic order in art, the aim of their work was negation. In contemporary art, novelty is a prerequisite for creating every work of art, since its form has to adapt itself continuously to the changing conditions, places, and situations. Even though many works have a built-in critical attitude towards the subject they deal with, the innovations do not take on a negative meaning. But the openness and fluidity of structure gives them a decidedly dialogic character, making the work of art a voice in a discussion, not a weapon in a battle.
Scale of production:
The Tofflers give "scale of production" a general meaning of "the scale of productive activities". The ideal of modernist art was mass production according to the same canons, which were the aesthetic expression of modernity. Each avant-garde movement aimed at standardizing artistic production in the whole world of art according to its own premises. Therefore, the art of the Second Wave emphasized art's relationship with industrial design, which took over the traditional function of crafts. A formalistic approach to art, typical of modernism, facilitated the close connection between art and design. Today's design is radically different from art, has a different place in culture, and all possible connections can be found at the level of general ideas, not at the level of form, although postmodernism is in fact believed to have its fullest expression in the field of design. Third Wave artists do not produce an immense number of related works, there is no "mass production" any more, no sea of works flooding the world of "old" aesthetics. The formal structure of a work has to be open, since a rigid ideology of the avant-garde kind generates "losses of sense", evident in the eluding diversity and variability of the world. The artists of the Third Wave adapt their art to the projected sense and the conditions of presentation. A work must be multifunctional, ready to be presented in many forms. Second Wave avant-garde movements repeated the configurations of the same elements ad infinitum, which made their works recognizable at first sight, but short on diversity. The qualities they had in common were the most important. Such permanent and identifiable elements are few in contemporary works. They are also extremely diversified. One author carries out several projects using various means and techniques. Due to the very nature of an installation or a performance, their production on a large scale is not very feasible, while from the artist's point of view such action would be a hypocrisy. Hence, the postmodernist "art" of designer objects is something different from the art discussed here. The avant-garde was formed by a group of artists creating in the same style; now quantity is replaced with individualization. Although performance appeared when the system of avant-garde movements still affected the form of art, it never had a starting-point, e.g. a founding manifesto (even though there have been attempts to introduce them, e.g. by Zbigniew Warpechowski in Poland, manifestoes have failed to take root in performance). On the other hand, performance art has never come to an end, has not been replaced by another, more modern avant-garde form. Performance is an art of direct presence, related to the artist's life and psychophysical condition. They are the only factors determining "the scale of productive operations" in this art. Its reception is also personalized: the number of viewers will always be small in comparison to the number of people who come to see a painting in a museum. Large exhibitions and museum expositions disintegrate into a series of installations, assume cellular character (each work in a separate box). If it were not so, installation, a par excellence spatial art, would dominate all the exhibition space available and individual works would merge into a single artwork, which is inadmissible from the viewpoint of museum orthodoxy.
The avant-garde movements of the Second Wave were organized into a hieratic, rigid structure set on the attainment of an absolute goal. The organization was adapted to the needs of a group creating art after a selected pattern. As a result of that, artistic works were all alike. Military comparisons are rightly employed to describe the mode of operation of avant-garde movements. Their army-like organization was adjusted to the way of constructing meanings – in accordance with the premises adopted in advance and written down in the manifestoes. To use a comparison from the field of company organization, the artists of modernist avant-garde movements in the Second Wave can be described as "bureaucrats of art" following the "rules" of their groups to the letter. The art of the Third Wave does not make any "hard" initial premises, which it would then have to carry out. The organization of the work of the Third Wave art has to allow for the need to absorb new and unpredictable situations as well as for the necessity to adapt art continuously to a changing substantial content on one hand, and particular works and creative means to individually constructed meanings on the other. For that reason, it has to be "de-bureaucratised", free from obligations to art. The organizational structure of the Third Wave art does not serve to generate many identical works, but to establish links between the elements and conventions that are often familiar, to facilitate navigation in the network of meanings. Adapting the movie Pulp Fiction, its plot and off-screen, cultural position for art and connecting them with methods and means peculiar to performance art testify that the work is organized around the sense, not around the form. The very fact of coordinating such distant forms of creativity in the formula of performance proves that the artist sees it as his role in culture and art to invent their applications (connections). He believes that his artistic task is to master the art of moving deftly within the network, to connect its points – forms and meanings – and to manipulate them so as to create a meaningful whole. The organization of the Third Wave art does not serve to ensure a doctrinal purity of style, either, as was customary for avant-garde movements. Creating a work depends on the subject or a local situation. Elaborate research projects, executed over a long period of time, require adapting the work in such a way as to make the inclusion of incoming results possible. Site specific art is an example of the flexibility and adaptability of contemporary art. All forms of the art of direct presence, such as performance, are especially sensitive to the specific properties of a place, but at the same time show the greatest adaptability. In general, a performer can adapt himself to all conditions, whereas it is not possible, for instance, to exhibit a painting everywhere. Today, festivals and exhibitions are held in the most bizarre, "non-classical" places instead of in galleries and museums. Curatorial duties do not concentrate so much on aesthetics, style, and technique as on specific subjects or the narratives of the present, posing problems and questions of extra-formal artistic character.
Another issue is "the integration of elements". The integrating factor in modernist avant-garde movements was style, homogeneous in each formation. The label of style identified an avant-garde group once and for all. Moreover, the art of the Second Wave was consolidated by the general ideological premises of modernism, made well-known by the phraseology of its major slogans, which enable us to regard the avant-garde system as a coherent whole today. At present, however, there is no formal element integrating artworks into one style. The elements of an installation can only be perceived as a whole because they are interconnected in a system of meanings. The integration does not so much involve objects or forms as the connections between them, that is, the domain of sense. We can say that the integration does not take place at the level of the work, but at the level of the artist, his way of thinking and feeling. The viewer's reception and interpretation must assume similar properties. The same is required of the curators of exhibitions. Integrating the resources of knowledge inherent in every work (including its author's knowledge) demands knowledge on the part of recipients and curators as well – knowledge, let us not forget, in the Tofflers' sense of the term. Such knowledge is the main integrating factor in the art of the Third Wave. There does not seem to be anything revolutionary in the statement that one should be well-acquainted with a subject to express opinions on it. As far as the Third Wave is concerned, though, it refers not only to the sum of general, objective, factual knowledge, but also, and most of all – using the language of metaphysics – to spiritual involvement, a matter that is very subjective and therefore belongs to the Tofflers' knowledge as well. The performance Pulp Fiction revolved around the relationship between Him and Her and could be summarized in the sentence, "My road to you", which means that a lot has to happen before the final kiss. Incidentally, just as in the plot of the film. Love story is probably the most universal "integrating element" in the world. And the construction and general intention of the performance is based on that very factor, not on the formal elements and artistic means used in it, even though they were numerous and each of them was extremely interesting and spectacular. Once, in the early history of the discipline, each would have deserved to be treated separately and to be called a complete work of art. Once, they would have determined the forming of a work of art into a homogeneous structure. This is the measure of the transformations that have occurred in art and in performance art.
In the Third Wave art, infrastructure is the way of distributing meanings in a work of art and, by means of art, in culture. I would like to point out that the concept of technique is understood broadly here, as the whole of the artist's professional equipment, including not only artistic methods, but ideas as well. The technique of the Second Wave art was the general ideology of modernism together with the forms peculiar to a given avant-garde formation. The technique of the avant-garde consisted in the ability to generate new forms and creative means, while the purpose of its methods was to increase the scope of what could be considered art and be included in its definition. Yet the achievements of avant-garde movements can be arranged in a linear sequence, whereas contemporary art has no direction. The idea of development is foreign to it, although there is, of course, a "before" and "after", some history of art is continued. But this order results only from respecting the social agreement concerning time and calendar. The infrastructure of contemporary art has the form of a network. The distribution of meanings takes place in the network made up of conceivable forms, which are equivalent as potential carriers of meanings. Integrated into the infrastructure network of the Third Wave art is a peculiar "internal infrastructure", i.e. the artist's biography, education and personal experiences. The technique of contemporary art serves to provide links between the points of the network – the components of the Tofflers' knowledge-as-vision. The basic artistic skill consists in ensuring the openness of art, in making a work into an "information superhighway", which allows it to be present in the network of forms and meanings. The infrastructure of the work, and of the art world as a whole, must provide room for new content and senses, but at the same time must accept its own incompleteness and inexplicitness. Analogously, the infrastructure supporting art, facilitating the distribution of meanings in culture, i.e. the system of galleries, centres, and festivals, is also a network. Wladyslaw Kazmierczak does not base the infrastructure of his performance, his technique, exclusively on the movie Pulp Fiction, but uses the stratagems typical of performers: depriving the viewers of the feeling of safety, putting himself in a dangerous situation, bodily experience, physical exertion, or ironic gestures and clownery. In contrast to "orthodox" performance, they neither dominate the whole of the action nor are the basic sense of the work. They are only a vehicle of sense. They form a network distributing meanings within the scope of the performance Pulp Fiction and thus incorporate it into the network of global culture.
The Tofflers call the Third Wave economy an "economy of speed"; let me add that it is a very high speed. It might seem that the dynamics of the Second Wave art, the rate of changes of avant-garde movements and their varieties were very high. From the perspective of modernist artistic opposition, namely the academicians for whom art was based on the universal canons of beauty established by the ancients and Renaissance artists, all variability was a disease of art. Yet the dynamics of Second Wave changes is slow in comparison to the dynamics of Third Wave changes. The speed of changes in modernist avant-garde formations was the same as the speeds of the machines known at the time, such as the locomotive, the automobile, or the airplane. In the Third Wave art, changes have the speed of an optical wave guide, the speed of transmitting information. Time itself becomes a form in contemporary art: it is not a continuation of what is universal or absolute, but serves to describe variability. A work of art is created "just-in-time", at the moment when we need it, since shortly afterwards it will lose its validity. Such strategy applies both to Third Wave artists and to the recipients of art. Nobody regards a work of art as an everlasting creation. Contrary to the ambitions of avant-garde movements, a work does not initiate a style, does not mark a new epoch. Its form has to keep up with the changing conditions. There is no room for laborious perfection, for the craftsman's meticulous finish here. Also, the artists often work on several projects simultaneously, using various means according to the subject. "Consistency of creative choices", traditionally presented as a value, is a mere superstition in the Third Wave art. A work has significance now or is insignificant. There is no other way to start a dialog with a diverse and changing world. An installation or a performance keeps changing with each execution, their forms adapt themselves to the conditions of presentation. I have seen several renderings of the performance Pulp Fiction. Each was different and it is impossible to say that one of them was the "real" one. Certain elements, such as the relationship between the partners, music or props, e.g. the glass smashed against the artist's head, were common to all of them, however, and provided the structural (formal) frame and the minimum of information necessary to convey the projected message and to create the performance. The art of the Third Wave is created and then disappears forever, the whole process happening at an enormous pace. It is its "natural state". It can only exist in the form of documentation, which is always an incomplete record of events. Before long, there will be a gap in our memory of art, which we will be unable to fill. It resembles the situation that faces an anthropologist or archaeologist exploring old civilizations or preliterate cultures: there are some material remainders left, some potsherds, architectural remains, ornaments, but the meaning of the narratives of those cultures, their rituals, cults, and customs, life of those people, finally, their history, remain either unknown or incomplete, elude understanding. Remarkably, the descriptions of such rituals, e.g. those of Siberian shamans in Eliade, could be used to describe contemporary installations and happenings. Contemporary art of the Third Wave differs radically not only from modernist art, but from the entire history of art as well. The existing collections of the museums and galleries of "contemporary" art, in which the souvenirs of the Second Wave art predominate, will remain as evidence of a certain cultural stage that is becoming more and more distant from the present time. Today, official institutions are not prepared to accept the Third Wave art. The most genuine contemporary art, it is not to be found in museums and probably never will be; possibly, some of it will remain in the archives in the form of electronic and magnetic records. Reconstructing today's state of art will be a task, by no means an easy one, for the "digital archaeology" of the future historians of civilization, culture, and art.
The features of the Third Wave art can certainly be formulated and presented in a more detailed way. However, this art, in so far as the word is adequate here, is just being born. It is a rapid process and the differences between the art dependent on the Second Wave and the art of the Third Wave will be more and more conspicuous. If we can currently point out individual examples, search out the isolated presages of the Third Wave in the history of art, then it will soon begin to dominate artistic life. Therefore, it seems that the essential task now is to develop the models of thought which will become the basis for artistic creation and interpreting of what is about to appear. The Tofflers complain that the world's economic thought is lagging behind the processes of the Third Wave that are already in progress. The situation in art can be similarly assessed. In Poland, as in most countries, the art system is not adapted to new art, unprepared to confront the future. The system of managing artistic institutions, including the financing and promotion of art and the administration of contemporary artistic values, is not open and flexible enough. Consequently, it encourages artistic opportunism, and in the field of theory – intellectual opportunism. Meanwhile, the changes in the world and, in turn, in art are radical and instantaneous. If the work of these institutions is to reflect them, they must undergo a professional transformation according to the terms of the Third Wave – or they will cease to be the institutions of contemporary art. Today, due to their inertia the changes in culture take place slowly and are evident only in the activity of small institutions, private artistic societies and galleries run by the persons who keep their finger on the pulse of art, breathing to its rhythm.
tr. Robert Galazka