Hello All --
Very interesting discussion here. The most compelling argument that I have
heard for why new media is truly new (and working towards a definition of
sorts) is in Mark Hanson's New Philosophy for New Media.
According to Hanson it is not that the digital is a specific medium which
constitutes new media (This is falling into media essentialism - a
modernist trap - New media is not defined by computation or bits and bytes
or cutting and pasting).
It is rather that the advent of the digital has created a situation where
all attempts at media essentialism (sculpture is this, painting is that) are
impossible. Where we used to take the given properties of a medium as a
specific, guiding frame of reference (photography has certain affordances,
painting has certain affordances) the malleability of all things in the
digital age produces a situation in which the ___body itself____ is the only
frame of reference. The body becomes the primary selector, processor,
This is by far the most interesting proposition I have yet heard on the
topic of new media, and keeps it from falling into essentialist traps in
which to be "new media" you must use a specific technology or computational
technique (which seems silly in an age where anything is fair game).
New media is rather a particular situation in which we all find ourselves
because of the digital.
On 9/6/04 5:05 AM, "Charlie Gere" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi everybody
> Picking up on Johannes' points below. I agree entirely that to talk
> about media is in one sense pointless since all there is no art without
> media. Perhaps the reason why the name 'new media art' is so insistent
> about the media part is not because it is so much more mediated than
> other art forms, but because it is so much less mediated, or rather that
> it brings with it the threat of there being no media (in the sense of a
> means or conduit through which data is brought to our senses). Thus the
> name 'new media art' is not so much a definition as a symptom of
> anxiety. Perhaps this quote from German media historian Bernard Siegart
> might make what I am trying to say a little clearer.
> "The impossibility of technologically processing data in real time is
> the possibility of art& As long as processing in real time was not
> available, data always had to be stored intermediately somewhere on
> skin, wax, clay, stone, papyrus, linen, paper, wood, or on the cerebral
> cortex- in order to be transmitted or otherwise processed. It was
> precisely in this way that data became something palpable for human
> beings, that it opened up the field of art... Conversely it is
> nonsensical to speak of the availability of real-time processing&
> insofar as the concept of availability implies the human being as
> subject. After all, real-time processing is the exact opposite of being
> available. It is not available to the feedback loops of the human
> senses, but instead to the standards of signal processors, since
> real-time processing is defined precisely as the evasion of the senses."
> In the end it may be a question of time or rather of speed. What
> differentiates the art we are talking about is not that it is or uses
> media, but that it can and does operate at very different speeds to
> older media
> Goebel, Johannes E. wrote:
>> I never quite understood the term "new media", but we certainly are using it
>> and have to continue to use it. The question is if we need to use it in a
>> "scientific" sense or more in a "political" (not implying that a scientific
>> definition is done in a political vacuum). Having worked in an environment
>> where art historians met "media artists", and works in/of "new media" were
>> exhibited and produced (ZKM Karlsruhe), I came to the perspective that "new
>> media" is a definition after the fact, more a tool for words than a tool for
>> art (maybe that is the prerogative of people not creating the art but
>> creating environments where such art can be supported, produced and
>> "New media" seems to be a label necessary to set it implicitly aside from
>> "old media". Obviously an "ars antiqua" can only be labeled as such, once an
>> "ars nova" has been called out (these terms refer to a muscial period in the
>> early Renaissance in France where exactly this happened).
>> "Media art" is an even more difficult term - since there is simply no art
>> without medium or media.
>> And we do have to create and use terminology in order to describe and/or
>> create perspectives of reality. This is most important when one is part of a
>> minority - since the word smiths for the "majority" have "the media" to exert
>> their power.
>> I have to use "new media" and "media art" in a non-scientific environment,
>> when dealing with people who have power and money to support "new" and who
>> are for whatever reason highly motivated to do so with their power and their
>> money. It is very difficult to convey to them, what I / we are talking about,
>> since they often do not have any experience with works in this field. It's a
>> little bit along the lines of Wittgenstein who asked in "Remarks on Color":
>> What does a blind man mean when he says the sky is blue?
>> For all practical purposes (but based on some theoretical pondering), I am
>> using "new media" in a very simplistic or naove way: anything which is run by
>> something which is plugged into an electrical outlet (or generator) - "which
>> is run" implies "time based", i.e. something which changes over times as an
>> explicit and implicit condition/parameter - where the "time based" condition
>> is an integral part of the work / concept / piece / production /intent /
>> experience / perception. And since the term "new media" seems to have come up
>> after media got more and more rooted in digital technology, mostly these days
>> the definition not only includes electricity but also digital technology.
>> But, in all cases, I would never limit "new media" to "digital technology"
>> for two reasons. One is, that analog electrical technology did change the
>> paradigm of time-based art already a long time ago - and the introduction of
>> formal and technical parameters implemented with electricity into the arts
>> (gates, on-off, chaotic behavior, feedback, projection of images,
>> loudspeakers etc.) is the basis for all digital technology and has had
>> similar revolutionary consequences for the arts as digital technology during
>> the past 50 years. And the second reason is that all digital signals have to
>> be converted to analog signals before our senses/we can perceive them - we
>> cannot create sense without this conversion.
>> Maybe "new media art" means "moving electrons" as material, condition, and
>> consequence for artistic works which are "time-based" (as opposed to "static"
>> (granting that nothing is static - but that is another issue)). Works in "new
>> media" integrate the condition of "moving electrons" as tool and thus as
>> material and thus as part of the experience.
>> Not very specific - but it does imply that "new media" is no genre and cannot
>> be restricted to an explicit artistic position. But it does mean that when
>> "new media" are used in an artistic production, the conditions of the "moving
>> electrons" cannot be omitted. And this is not a technology based definition;
>> on the contrary, it is actually an aesthetic postulate which liberates from
>> the technological discussion in the sense that the technology which is part
>> of a work is part of the work - and nothing just on its own.