Shanken, E.A. (2007). Historicizing Art and Technology: Forging a Method and Firing a Canon. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Shanken’s piece is an exhortation to integrate the nexus of art, science, and technology (AST) into art historical canon, methodology, and historiography because, simply, people are creating/using/adapting it. (I hold this is essential for planning, too, since all fields have experienced fundamental shifts of practice, orientation, methodology in the information age.) The “telematic embrace” has happened everywhere, but intellectual silos and variable languages at least slow, sometimes inhibit, intellectual sharing. Shanken’s research dispels the myth that where science and technology go, art follows.

“My research suggested that ideas emerge simultaneously in various fields and that the cross-fertilization of those ideas presupposes that an underlying context already exists in order for seeds from one field to germinate in another” (57).

For Shanken’s part, he devised the following (fluid) themes for his Art and Electronic Media (2002):

  • coded form and electronic production: the generation of multiple images, 3D copies, high-resolution photography and printing
  • motion, light, time: following from the early 20th century inclusion of motion and, therefore, representation of art through space and time
  • networks, surveillance, culture jamming: the proliferation of telematics-enabled exchange and collaboration
  • simulations and simulacra: the former are near-enough copies of the originals, but the latter “refer often to a form of similarity particular to media culture, wherein distinctions between the original and copy become increasingly murky” (62) — so much so that the simulacra might eventually attain an authenticity once the sole preserve of the original
  • interactive contexts and electronic environments: art has always needed the viewer but here the need is acute as artists design open-ended contexts for manifold possibilities
  • bodies, surrogates, emergent systems: the design of robots to consider human nature and a post-human world; like simulacra, the distinctions between the “real” and AI blur
  • communities, collaborations, exhibitions, institutions: art involving digital media almost presupposes collaboration among “artists, scientists, and engineers, and between individuals, communities, and institutions” (63).
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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields

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