Tag Archives: lovejoy/paul/vesna

West, R.G. (2011). Working with Wetware. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Ruth West is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and researcher of emerging technologies. Her expertise is broad: new media arts, design, molecular genetics, information aesthetics/visualization, virtual/immersive environments, psychology, and mobile technologies. She works and has worked with UCSD Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, UCLA CENS (NSF Center for Embedded Networked Sensing), and NCMIR (National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research).

San Francisco Art Institute’s Area Head of Conceptual Information Art Stephen Wilson (2002) submits four classifications for art-science praxis: (1) “Exploration” (researching and developing), (2) “Cultural implications” (using technology to consider narratives and conceptual frameworks), (3) “Unrelated themes” (using technology to study non-technological topics), and (4) “Incidental use of technology” (using images and materials strictly for aesthetic purposes).

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Vesna, V. (2011). Shifting Media Contexts: When Scientific Labs Become Art Studios. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Victoria Vesna is a media artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci center at the School of the Arts and California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI).  As of 2011, she was Visiting Professor and Director of Research at Parsons, Media + Technology, the New School for Design in New York, and a senior researcher at IMéRA – Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées in Marseille and Artist in Residence at the Insitute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol.

Both artists and scientists observe changes in people resulting from new environments/media: “this new culture emerges from an entirely different context that at once intensifies the relationship between art and science and raises many new issues for both sides” (234). Their shared interests in technology, academia, invention, however can’t obscure the fact that they are radically different worlds.

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Diamond, S. (2011). Mapping the Collective. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Sara Diamond has a PhD in Computer Science, as well as degrees in new media theory and practice, social history, and communications. She is President of the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), as well as founding Editor-in-Chief of horizonzero.ca. She researches and designs wearable technology and mobile media.

“A collective is a network that maps many points, including those in other planes of time. Maps of activism are in fact in the fourth dimension, with strings back in time and space, rather than linear movements forward” (222).

Media art activism collectives of the 70s and 80s were different from cooperatives–the latter were quasi- to fully legal entities, whereas the former were “viral, temporal, haphazard” (201). Those video collectives generally disintegrated, however, as individuals professionalized. Later media artists did have Internet presence, but by virtue of the network, they were in disparate locations. “The intricate mapping of social change was to be paved over by the information highway” (202).

Years later, new media collectives’ configurations reflect the “rhizomatic organization of the Internet itself, by theories of complexity, self-organizing systems, and Postmodernism” (204). Collaborative models privilege communication, distributed networks (e.g. the European Network of Cyber Arts [ENCART]),  and collective memory (e.g. Fabian Wagmister’s “dos, tres, muchos Guevaras” [2001]). In addition, unlike their video art predecessors, these collaborators create tools, specifically artist-developed software. “Artists’ tools run the range from intervention to invention” (215), particularly with mobile devices locative media, and remix culture. Critically:

“Collaboration requires that different forms of ego identity are allowed to emerge. Creativity seems to work best among those who have a sense of self that is strong enough to hold opinions but generous enough to allow skepticism and reconsideration. Collaboration requires a sense of maturity. True collectivity requires navigating ownership, sharing responsibility for failure and success” (221).

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Nideffer, R.F. (2011). Game Engines as Creative Frameworks. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Robert F. Nideffer researches, teaches, and writes on virtual environments and behavior, interface theory and design, technology and culture, and contemporary social theory. He has an MFA in Computer Arts and PhD in Sociology, is a Full Professor in Studio Art and Informatics at UC Irvine.

Here Nideffer implores the reader to perceive the “engine” in “game engine” to mean more than software. Instead we should think of it in terms of the development community’s vitality, which is often at odds with the artistic community’s. First, we should recall the former has discrete economic imperatives–making money as quickly as possible translates to repeating genres, aesthetics, functionality. Second, we should interrogate how the values are encoded into the systems. Traditional gaming sells packages that do give users choices, but they aren’t deep, structural ones.

Anthony Giddens’ (1993) “structuration theory” relates the relationship between individual agency and social structure: the individual’s acts reaffirm the larger system, though it remains changeable. Nideffer stresses this relationship isn’t equally weighted, however, and tensions exist (e.g. ArtModJam panel). Ann Swidler’s (1986) “culture as toolkit” thesis holds people draw from their own cultural tools to resolve perceived issues and make sense of their personal milieus. Again, tensions exist. See the 1999 “Cracking the Maze” exhibition, which

“…provided a brilliant and thematically coherent framework for beginning to establish game hacking, patching, and level modification as not only a timely and relevant artistic practice, but as a strategy for calling into question some of the latent ideological premises behind a commercial product that was already having such widespread social impact” (182).

Why not apply to planning, too?

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Gržinić, M. (2011). Identity Operated in New Mode: Context and Body/Space/Time. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Marina Gržinić, philosopher and artist, is a Professor in Post Conceptual Art Practices at the Academy of Fine Arts is Vienna, Institute of Fine Arts, and researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the ZRC SAZU (Scientific and Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Art) in Ljubljana. She is a media theorist, art critic, and curator.

“Everything, everywhere, everybody implies a fundamentally misleading situation of ‘fluid identity.’ I would argue it is not identity itself that is fluid but rather the variety of different roles we are forced to perform today” (151).

This flexibility of identity, Grzinic holds, constitutes a flexibility of contexts, which makes artists not “a new proletariat … but into a new precaria” (152) under constant pressure from the information age and “isolated digital creativity” (ibid). This context shapes a decidedly apolitical position, and so we must intervene politically into the digital sphere.

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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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Paul, C. (2011). Contextual Networks: Data, Identity, and Collective Production. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Digital technologies offer new ways to network and contextualize locations and social connections, and so create frameworks for examining culture. “Context” itself is a “complex construct” (103), subsuming the physical, social, organizational, and economic. When we speak in global terms, we refer to locational contexts. And when we speak locally, we evaluate agency and access to/within particular locations. Malcolm McCullough (2004) parses, distinguishing between “‘setting’ as objective, a priori space and ‘context’ as both the engagement with the setting and the bias this space creates for the interactions occurring within it” (104).

“Context awareness and the ability to improvise in contexts are a necessity for functioning in an information society that finds its extension in pervasive computing and social media” (104).

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Flanagan, M. (2011). Play, Participation, and Art: Blurring the Edges. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Mary Flanagan is an artist, scientist, and humanist who directs the Tiltfactor research laboratory at Dartmouth College. Her electronic literature and critical studies have been published as essays and as books, including re:SKIN (2007) and Critical Play (2009). She studies how games, social issues, and data intersect.

Digital art’s constant flow of information raises questions about “origin, authorship, immediacy, and community” (93). Artists are both interpreters and interventionists–just as the best planners are–in both “traditional” (e.g. gallery) and “native” (e.g. Net) spaces. Also evoking planning, Net art’s conceptual structure is the network and so we must observe the system’s operability in totality, and not the single user’s aesthetic experience.

Just as public space, per Lefebvre (1991), is a social construction, so is the Net a “political space of constructed relationships” (98). Therefore, per artist and roboticist Simon Penny (1995), we should not be so quick with the computer-is-the-key-to-utopia mantra. For one, access does not equal liberation. Second, public access, while democratic, isn’t mass. And third, networked art operates on colonialist assumptions regarding communication, in doing so, illustrating global, hegemonic power structures.

Still, “the Web is a public domain of sorts, a privatized public space for interaction–permeable, shareable” (97).

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Daniel, S. (2011). Collaborative Systems: Redefining Public Art. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Social justice advocate-artist, Sharon Daniel creates and utilizes information and communication technologies. She is a Professor of Film and Digital Media and Chair of the Digital Arts and New Media MFA Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she teaches digital media theory and practice. She produces “new media documentaries,” online archives and interfaces that make available the stories of the underserved across social, cultural, and economic lines.

Context provision is a political public art practice. In it, artists avoid representation and instead provide tools for the articulation of self.

“Theorizing and storytelling, together, constitute an intervention and a refusal to accept reality as it is right now. Borders are crossed in this intervention–when, through both speaking and hearing, we become and disappear” (83).

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Stiles, K. and Shanken, E. (2011). Missing in Action: Agency and Meaning in Interactive Art. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Kristine Stiles is professor of contemporary art and theory in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University. She’s written Concerning Consequences of Trauma in Art and Society (2010), Correspondence Course: An Epistolary History of Carolee Scheemann and her Circle (2010), and World Art Since 1945 (2011, with Kathy O’Dell).

Edward Shanken is author of Art and Electronic Media (2009) and editor of Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology and Consciousness (2003). His essays are in such journals as Art JournalArt ByteArt Criticism, aminima, Leonardo, and Technoetic Arts. He has a PhD in Art History from Duke and an MBA from Yale.

For Stiles and Shanken, “interactivity” and “agency” are bandied about a great deal in media art, often together, the idea being that in order for interactive art to be meaningful, it must enhance “the fullness of agency” (35). Only many interactive projects can be conventional and problematic. Kaprow eventually abandoned the happening, claiming people weren’t ready culturally to interact responsibly. This is not to his credit, really, because he tacitly collapsed all publics into one, but Stiles and Shanken provide a powerful anecdote with the “Hall Street Happening” (1963). After Cynthia Mailman fell through the garage roof on which she was dancing, audience members did nothing, and so exemplified the limits to interactivity and the aesthetic experience’s requisite cool detachment. The sanctity of art over agency. (But then as I think about this, perhaps that that public’s response. What if she’d performed for a group less informed about contemporary art etiquette? Might she have gotten help immediately?)

Yet the utopian dream for interactivity persists, married with the “rhetoric of novelty” trope in association with new media. Further, per Latour, power structures and prevailing social codes still construct “agency.” Technology is an interesting player here, too, because while technology itself is neutral, its very presence signifies a certain hegemony. In order for their work to be genuinely radical, artists must recognize that prevailing hegemony, and engage in Laclau and Mouffe’s “radical democratic politics” and Hardt and Negri’s “constituent activity,” which subsumes empathy, responsibility, and reciprocity.

“… we suggest agency that sets empathy in motion toward responsible interaction and constructive change is meaningful” (46).

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Lovejoy, M. (2011). Defining Conditions for Digital Arts: Social Function, Authorship, and Audience. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Data is now infinitely manipulable and limitless. “Interactivity,” then, just as “interdisciplinary” are practically meaningless terms since digital technologies actually change the mode of interactivity altogether. The open system implies agency; following Duchamp, the production of work extends beyond formalism into “larger  political, social, and spiritual values” (22).

However, there are constraints. The digital divide applies in terms of access, language, and cultural contexts, the last intersecting/reflecting with technological pace, commercial interests and affecting how an artists finds her voice. Institutionally, “media artists regard their art as a form of knowledge” (26) — and I daresay Castells (1989) would agree — and their hybrid, collaborative nature questions larger institutions and their practices.

In new media technologies, there are three narrative modes: (1) transcriptive (multiple layering for loops and reassembling of paths), recombinary (algorithm-controlled permutation strategies that shape the meaning of artistic works), and distributed (enabled by telematics).  Also three are the number of groups of cultural producers using digital media: those using it to create traditional work, those using/producing/distributing in full, and those collaborating with other modes (e.g. video, performance) to make interdisciplinary works.

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Lovejoy, M., Paul, C., & Vesna, V., eds. (2011). Introduction. In _Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Context Providers explores the ways in which media art and culture — specifically digital and art/science collaborations–are challenging and changing the creative process and our ways of constructing meaning” (7).

Margot Lovejoy is Professor Emerita of Visual Arts at the State University of New York, Purchase, and author of Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age (2004). She’s received a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Arts International Grant in India, multiple NYSCA grants, NYFA’s Gregory Millard Fellowship, and the 2007 CAA Award for Distinguished Teaching of Art.

Christiane Paul is the Director of Media Studies Graduate Programs and Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School, NY, and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She writes widely on new media arts and lectures internationally on art and technology.

Victoria Vesna is a media artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci center at the School of the Arts and California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI).  As of 2011, she was Visiting Professor and Director of Research at Parsons, Media + Technology, the New School for Design in New York, and a senior researcher at IMéRA – Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées in Marseille and Artist in Residence at the Insitute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol.

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