Tag Archives: information as aesthetics

Burnett, R. (2007). Projecting Minds. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Ron Burnett, author of Culture of Vision: Images, Media, and the Imaginary (1995) and How Images Think (2005), is the President of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and former Director of the Graduate Program in Communications at McGill University. He’s authored over 150 published articles and book chapters and was named Educator of the Wyar by the Canadian New Media Association in 2005. In 2010, the French government honored him with an Order of France: Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

“Interactivity then cannot be predicated on or predicted by the design of the game or any medium. The challenge . . . is not to make too many assumptions about the behaviors of players or viewers” (310).

Here Burnett unpacks the history of the “‘fabrication’ of audiences” (312) and proposes that photography and film factor heavily in this movement. In comparing photography and cinema, Burnett outlines several reasons media art processes and the art itself offer much to planning.

Re documentation, Jean Luc Godard often complained about photography and cinema’s close relationship and deep differences. Photography resists time, documenting single moments. Harking back to Groys, photography conveys the aesthetic, whereas cinema, poetics and the possibility for a life narrative. While the former communicates a lot of information, it cannot stand for the whole of a film.

“Projection allows audiences to visualize the effects of frames in motion” (319).

That immersive experience–and this is key–depends not just on the technological apparatuses “but also on the capacity of the user to fill in the gaps between what is there and what cannot be there” (331). Local knowledge and context matter.

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Sack, W. (2011). Aesthetics of Information Visualization. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Walter Sack, software designer and media theorist, explores online public space and discourse theories and designs. He is Chair of the Digital Arts & New Media MFA Program and Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of Santa Cruz. He has an S.M. and PhD from the MIT Media Laboratory.

Here Sack takes issue with Lev Manovich’s (2002) characterization of digital visualization as “antisublime,” privileging user-friendliness and utilitarianism over aesthetic beauty. However, Sack says, there already are examples of the sublime (e.g. John Simon’s “Every Icon” [1997]) and the uncanny (e.g. Alex Galloway’s packet sniffer “Carnivore” [2002]), and proposes we regard information visualization’s artistic contributions not in terms of visual, but conceptual arts. This is a particularly salient approach, if we take conceptual art’s history of reiterating industrial and bureaucratic modes to engage with and critique them.

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Rush, M. (2005). _New Media in Art_, 2nd. Ed. London: Thames of London.

Michael Rush, PhD in Theology and Psychology from Harvard University, is the founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. Most recently he was director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. He contributes regularly art world publications and scholarship. His books include Video Art, New Media in Art, New Media in Late 20th-Century Art, Marjetica Potrc: Urgent Architecture, and he’s written monographs on Gunther Brus, Steve Miller, and Alexis Rockman.

This book is a well-organized, beautifully illustrated (124 of 267 illustrations are in full color) and straightforward history of new media in art. Rush organizes the text quasi-chronologically, but emphasizes modes of practice, with chapters entitled, “Media and Performance,” “Video Art,” “Video Installation Art,” and The Digital in Art.” Suffice it to say, Muybridge and Marey, and Duchamp are the technological and conceptual benefactors, respectively, whose ideas are experimented with and added to over the next century, first by artists migrating from other disciplines and eventually by first-generation artists.

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