Tag Archives: media art history

Kluszczyński, R.W. (2007). From Film to Interactive Art: Transformations in Media Arts. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Ryszard W. Kluszczyński, PhD, is Head of the Electronic Media Department and Professor of cultural media studies at Lodz University. He also teaches theory of art and media art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz, and media art at the Academy of Fine Art in Poznan. He publishes on the problematics of the information society, theory of media and communication, cyberculture, and multimedia arts.

“Interactivity in art, understood as a dialogue of sorts, communications between the initiator and the artifact, occurring in real time and mutually influential, is becoming one of the essential features of contemporary culture” (p. 216).

Observing the influx of digital technologies into traditional cinema, Kluszczyński proposes two potential forms of cinema: one where telematics are used to uphold and enhance existing processes, and another obviating convention in favor of interactive cinema. So far, digital communications’ impact/s on cinema have  four concrete dimensions: (1) the “unreality effect” (p. 210) of electronic, digital simulations; (2) the distribution of film along multiple technologies; (3) interactive computer technologies that evoke distancing, Brechtian practices; and (4) Internet-enabled participation (e.g. MMOG).

Kluszczyński joins many of the summer’s authors in reminding us that photographic and digital images are different. The former represents its informative reality; the latter, meanwhile, is totally free of parameters. This distinction does not signal the end of film, but virtual reality does allow for “immersivity and telemacity” (213), and so we see film’s technological proliferation.

Each technology has its own ontology. Television is about transmission, cinema about reading, and video, digital media’s closest progenitor, is about intimacy. Video’s liberation is its potential for interaction. Video’s “proto-interactivity” (216) hints at the deeper interactive potentials in computer art. This technological transformation, however, has revealed cyberculture’s two polar tendencies. There are those who want to use interactive art within in the canon of the modern aesthetic paradigm of representation, expression, and the preeminence of the artist. The resultant interactive art is not about communication but rather the intermediary relationship with the software’s creators. At the other end of the spectrum there are artists who believe the work transcends conventional paradigms, and bears with it a necessary rejection of representation. The artist here is a designer of contexts the viewer then shapes.

Following Derrida  (1967, 1974), Kluszczynski proposes interactive art tendencies (echoing Couchot, 2007!). In the first, the authorial hand not only makes something “art” but injects it with predetermined meanings, thus dampening opportunities for interactivity. The second tendency frees work from being derivative since it is in the “primary position” (219), emphasis is on structure, therefore “the work of art requires a different type of reception–an ‘active interpretation,’ resembling a game, promoting a transformative activity toward ‘nonfinality,’ ‘nonultimacy'” (ibid).

Interactive art is the ultimate example of the “deconstructive, postmodernist, cybercultural understanding of an artwork and of artistic communication” (220). It is not an a work at all, but open to every individual’s personal interaction and context, enmeshed in a complex, multivalent network of communication processes” (223).

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Grau, O. (2007). Remember the Phantasmagoria: Illusion Politics of the Eighteenth Century and its Multimedia Afterlife. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

“Media exerts a general influence on forms of perceiving space, objects, and time, and they are tied inextricably to the evolution of mankind’s sense faculties” (140).

Grau holds that a major problem with cultural policy is the poor understanding regarding audio-visual media’s beginnings. There are two views, utopian (futurist) and dystopian (poststructuralist critical theory), and they are both teleological, and neither seem to recognized the phantasmagoria dates back to the 17th century. In truth, the process of merging the message/image with its medium/apparatus such that the medium’s rendered invisible has a deep history. Grau believes that media technologies have done more than just heighten our sensory perception through telematic processes, as McLuhan suggested, but through virtual ones, as well, and drawn connections “with the psyche, with death, and with artificial life–with the most extreme moments of our existence” (142).

Digital art is changing to become more process-based and with new interactive, telematic, and genetic imaging process parameters. So what’s really new about new media isn’t so new. We continue “to generate illusionism and polysensual immersion” (154) using all contemporary means of art and science available.

Finally, a word about immersion. Grau considers it foundational to media’s development:

“Immersion can be a mentally active process; in the majority of cases . . . immersion is mental absorption initiated for the purpose of triggering a process, a change, a transition. . . . An increase in the power of suggestion appears to be an important, if not the most important, motive force driving the development of new media of illusion” (155).

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Daniels, D. (2007). Duchamp: Interface: Turing: A Hypothetical Encounter between the Bachelor Machine and the Universal Machine. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Dieter Daniels is the Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. in Linz, Austria. He initiated the Videonnale Bonn in 1984, was director of the ZKM Video Library from 1992-4, and has been Professor of Art History and Media Theory at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Design.

In this paper, Daniels draws parallels between Duchamp and Alan Turing, and in placing their work alongside contemporary media art, notes the prevailing confusion of cause and effect of art and media technological innovations. After all, don’t they both emerge from “models, sketches, and blueprints” (104)?

In Alan Turing’s universal machine, detailed in his 1950 paper “Can a Machine Think?” thinking is done for humans, but not by them. And in Duchamp’s La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même [Large Glass] (1915-23), the “bachelor mode” is unfulfilled sexual urge. Both instances, Large Glass and the Turing Test, are “specifically masculine scenarios that revolve around an insurmountable distance from the female and, as a result, install a media-technical communication as a replacement for a physical encounter” (115).

“But today the bachelor machine has left the field of art and literature far behind and instead become a motif for the omnipresent practice of media technology. The universal machine of the computer serves as a means to realize these wishes, but its capacity does not suffice to fulfill them completely, nor to replace the human counterpart” (127).

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Weibel, P. (2007). It Is Forbidden Not to Touch: Some Remarks on the (Forgotten Parts of the) History of Interactivity and Virtuality. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Peter Weibel has been the Chairman and CEO of the ZKM/Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe since 1999. Prior to that he was curator at the Neue Galerie Graz, as well as artistic consultant and artistic director of the Ars Electronica in Linz. In addition, he has been Professor for Visual Media Art at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, Associate Professor for Video and Digital Arts and Center for Media State at SUNY Buffalo.

In this piece, Weibel argues kinetic and op art are being rediscovered, only with new applications, and that it’s in art, specifically kinetic and op art (not computers) that we find the richest interactive and virtual art interfaces. In op and kinetic art, the viewer is now essential for the work. The illusion is not the device but the object, and in some cases viewers experience the kinetic/spatial “stereokinetic effect” (30).

Kinetic and op art are: contemporaneous with the emergence of computer arts and graphics, dependent on interactivity and virtuality, and bear “the rudiments of rule-based algorithmic art” (21). Algorithms are decision procedures; they have a set number of rules and instructions that lead one to a determined end. They are present in digital and electronic tolls, art and non-art, and rely on two forms of interactivity: manual/mechanical (e.g. op art) and digital/electronic (e.g. new media art).  There are two uses for algorithms in modern art: “intuitive application” (e.g. Fluxus) and “exact application (e.g. computer art). “The future of digital art can be found in approaches explored by kinetic practitioners” (38).

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Grau, O. (2007). Introduction. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Oliver Grau, Professor for Bildwissenschaft and Dean of the Department for Cultural Studies at the Danube University Krems, researches the histories of media art, and immersion of emotions, as well as the history, notion, and culture of telepresence, genetic art, and artificial intelligence. He is also head of the German Science Foundation’s Immersive Art project. In 2000 this team developed the first international Database of Virtual Art.

This book subsumes “the history of media art within the interdisciplinary and intercultural contexts of the histories of art” (1). His and his collaborators’ express goal is to widen the scope of art history scholarship to include digital art and its concomitantly diverse practitioners. Grau’s separated the book into four sections: “Origins: Evolution versus Revolution,” “Machine–Media–Exhibition,” “Pop Meets Science,” and “Image Science.” As is the case with many edited volumes, certain essays speak louder, more relevant truths than others. This is especially the case here, given that my objective is linking media arts practices to planning, so not all readings will be summarized.

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