I choose to write an article about New-Media art because I love art and I am really fascinated by the diversity and level of creativity I have found in the New-Media art world. New-Media art contains a limitless amount of programs and new technology in which artists have to work with.
Before writing this paper I had quite a large bank of knowledge about the subject. I am currently obtaining my undergraduate degree in Video Art from Ball State University. I myself have been working in styles similar to what I have writ about in these pages and been majorly influenced by the artists in which I present in the paper.
I don’t think the majority of artists know much about New-Media art as a medium. New-Media is heavily disconnected from the rest of the art world. Many students who spend anytime with Photoshop or other programs are usually studying something connected to graphic design. The other art majors don’t really spend time working on computers they spend time in classes such as painting, sculpture, metals, glass, etc.
If most artists don’t know about this area I would doubt many people outside the art world are following this movement.
This topic is very important to me because New-Media is the forefront of what technology and art has given us. This New-Media is given its name because the genre is a format in which is so new to the world and the genre is always changing. Where as mediums like painting the process has not changed other than stylistically for hundreds of years.
I personally feel the need to urge a high level of importance for everyone to spend time and to view with the tools in which they use everyday as tools to create art. New-Media is the time period in which we live in, an art style as open as New-Media can be revolutionized by anyone due to the small number of artists and large number of possibilities. Aesthetically New-Media is all about creating with the resources around you.
Anything from a cellphone, a social network, a Gameboy you have had since childhood, etc. this idea of creating with what you have or is free rather then investing a lot of money into materials is one of the aspects that intrigues me the most because literally anyone can afford to create in this medium because most people already own the tools they need. All of these reasons are why this medium is important to me.
The Foundations for Digital Art
Art has traditionally been a physical object such as a canvas, sculpture or other matter represented in a physical matter. In the 1960s with the birth of computer technology this traditional concept of what was and what art could be was greatly challenged, due to the fact that came from a very unlikely source.
Digital Art in the 1960’s did not follow the traditional historical format in which art had been conceptualized and then created. Digital art is different because Digital art is rooted in a background of computer science and code oriented design. The work in which digital artists were creating had an entirely different motive and direction than other historical mediums and trends. Paul (2002)
After World War II the government had become increasingly interested in investigating how telecommunications could be improved. So the government began to give major funding to the leader in telecommunications AT&T Bell. With this funding AT&T Bell began to investigate computers of the time and to experiment with what could be created and how they could help to solve issues with telecommunications. (Kane, 2011)
The workers were also paid to learn and develop methods better than telecommunications. So each AT&T Bell laboratory was loaded with the most modern technology under the sun, everything from sound equipment to the best video equipment in the world. (Kane)
With all the access to these great computing technologies the workers began to experiment and develop what we know today as New-Media art. New-Media art is defined as art that that uses technology, Internet, programing, animation and other code based technological advances to create art. (Kane)
According to the Lovejoy (2003), computers in the 1960s were not available to the mass public due to the high cost of the technology. So this kept the number of artists at a small number and what these artists created ranged greatly from one to another.
The workers at AT&T Bell were being paid to investigate how to further telecommunications but most of the time spent working they were dabbling and playing around on computers. (Kane)
“The end of World War II brought fresh talent, new technologies and a sense of future optimism to the United States, and in particular, to AT&T’s Bell Labs, where, despite restrictions and regulations, a prolific amount of innovative aesthetic and technical experimentation was conducted in a relatively open environment. These endeavors set the groundwork for what we now call digital art” (Kane, pg. 53)
This playful environment was the start of everything that digital artists use today. Even though in the 1960s not everyone was on board with the idea of using computers to create art. According to Kane, Roy E. Disney paid a visit to the AT&T Bell Laboratories where a group of researchers attempted to show me an experimental method of how they could use computers to animate characters. Disney refused to look the work this was due to the fact that he saw no future in computer animation. (Kane)
A major problem around the AT&T Bell laboratories was that the artists working at this facility wanted to showcase the interesting new discoveries they had made with these high quality computers to the public, but this was not possible due to the restrictions put on by the government funding. (Kane)
Kane quoted artist Kenneth Knowlton who worked at AT&T Bell saying that when he showed his pieces in a gallery he would say that he works at a large telecommunications laboratory that wishes to remain anonymous. Many artists emerged out of these AT&T Bell Laboratories.
Kane also said that many of the prominent artists of the time period such as Dali, Warhol, and even Lichtenstein had made visits to the laboratories to view what the artists had been working on behind closed doors.
Digital art had made its entrance into the art world and was setting the foreground of what art, as we know the genre as today.
Code As Art
Code is the underlying key to the world of digital art. Code is the script that defines what a computer program is meant to do. Artists of New-Media use code to create digital art and to enable others to create digital art.
Code fits in well with the art world because code is something that is visually represented as text but when complete a program becomes a complete piece used to generate information. Bond (2005) compared how code is similar to lines that make up a drawing.
The people who are writing code such as the invention of Literate Programing can redefine the world of code. “Literate programming turns the traditional approach to programming on its head: instead of a programmer documenting the code, the documentarian embeds code in the document. This allows the programmer to write a program as a narrative, free from the structuring constraints and conventions imposed by a programming language” (Bond 2005).
Bond compared that a programmer just as an artist can acknowledge when they are making something that is atheistically pleasing or when what they are creating is not. His reason for investigating was to discover whether or not he thought code could become something more than just a script if code could be viewed as something more.
In the world of New-Media Art this is not much of a question the response has not been to question whether or not art could be made with code but how art could be made with code.
Today artists all across the world are programing digital art pieces that make the experience more interactive by use of code. Lovejoy stated that the role of a digital artist has become very different than the role of a traditional artist. By having the digital aspect in the art work the piece can become more interactive, engaging the viewer in ways that were not possible in traditional media such as sculpture and painting.
Artists can involve the viewer by wiring cameras to take shots of the
viewers as they stand in front of a piece. These images would involve the user by them becoming a part of a piece. An art installation by Victoria Bradbury a professor at Ball State titled “Blue Boar” requires the viewer to place their head in a black box where a picture of their face is taken, that image is then placed on a blue boar. The viewer can then see their image as being part of the artwork.
Digital art is different because the images do not have to remain static they can be animated or involve the viewer’s response to decide how the piece should be interpreted. Artists with the ability to write with code have the ability to create art and digital images that one would not think possible.
Interactive pieces are the heart and soul of what makes a digital art piece the experience that this is. Artists have the ability to involve the viewer by programing them in.
“Interactivity challenges the role of the artist, who now assumes a different function, one similar to a systems designer. The artist may creatively manipulate entire databases of imagery, text and sound, opening new avenues to art-making that encompass interdisciplinary and collaborative methods and forms.” (Lovejoy, pg. 320)
The World of Glitch
Glitch in art is defined by art that is made with the intent of error to cause a chance-based occurrence that will cause an unpredicted outcome with a piece of art. Glitch art has become a major part of the New-Media art world. Artists today use everything from code, file distortion to create interesting pieces of chance based art. (Menkman, 2011)
The world of glitch is much different than other forms of New-Media art. This is due to the high use of the Internet and the idea of creating interactive web pages where viewers can see in real time these glitches happening.
An art gallery does no longer need to be defined to a physical space an art exhibition can easily be held in cyberspace. According to Huff (2012) for artists working to create media on the Internet they use Mac OSX and Google Chrome. He says that Windows is not common of artists in this medium.
Many online collectives have been formed such as gli.t/h to unite artists across the world and to help support this small niche medium. Glitch artists are explorers of the limits of technology and they try to manipulate the way that files are read on computers and to experiment with the parameters that exist within code. (Menkman)
According to Douglass (2012), artists have been glitching Facebook interface to create images that escape the preset boundaries and glitch on to other parts of the web page not meant to have images or text.
In a documentary by Owens (2008), the film showed glitch artists were able to short wire Nintendo Entertainment Systems (NES) to create an 8bit aesthetic file corruption. These corruptions were then used as visuals for Dj’s who focus on creating music from glitches and corrupted Gameboys.
The world of glitch visual art connects well with the glitch sound art world as well. Many artists who are interested in glitch art create music with circuit bending and other short-wired electronics. Many glitch performances involve both visuals and sounds. (Owens)
Many recent galleries have been holding glitch artists such as Corey Arcangel who was an innovator of NES game corruption. He has had exhibitions all around the world one of which made him the youngest artist to be featured in the Whitney bicentennial 2004.
The Future of New-Media
The future of New-Media art is looking great every day methods and technology are created and revisited to see what an artist can create with this technology. Today artists are able to take a 3d shape and send the shape across the Internet and then recreate the object using a 3d printer.
The 3d printer works by taking a solid plastic and then blasting the solid piece with shards that shape a 3d design. (Rothstein, 2012)
The anonymous artist featured in the article had taken this a step farther. To show his love of online piracy and support for the occupy Wall Street movement he rendered the Guy Fawkes mask and allowed the file to be shared on the Internet site thepiratebay.net anyone who searches can download this mask and begin printing this mask that only exists virtually. (Rothstein)
New-Media art in the future will not only focus on pushing tomorrow’s technology further but New-Media art will also include taking technology from the past and pushing the technology farther than the genre has ever gone. This is really the core of what makes New-Media what the genre is. When you look at movements such as the glitch music trend of creating music with corrupted Gameboys in which Owen’s documentary focused on.
When you look at how important the past is to the current state of art has to make a person wonder what artists growing up with personal computers and iPhones its going to be interesting to see what the next generation of artists will be making. (Owens)
As technology develops and grows cheaper the level of interactivity in will become more relevant. Today cameras are cheap we can put an inexpensive lenses that can take good photos in phones we produce for less than $5.00 a unit. Imagine what the possibilities are for artists when 3d printers become something that is inexpensive and readily available on the consumer market.
Kane discussed how in the 1960’s the only people who had access to computers were those working in the AT&T Bell Laboratories and when the technology became available to public is when the real movement started for digital art. This brings up further questions such as what new types of media are available to only a select few due to commercial units not yet being produced.
Going back to the concept of 3d printers discussed by Rothstein. The world will be a majorly different place once the 3d printer becomes a commercial and affordable entity. These printers would create an entirely new medium in the New-Media world, because so far all of the media that is under the New-Media name are currently only 2d.
By having the availability to create glitches, errors and digital artifacts with 2d files like that of which Menkman wrote about the next logical step is to work with using this same aesthetic to create 3d art.
This also begs the question what will happen to the future of the art gallery. We have seen in Douglass’s article that a major piece of New-Media is the idea that an art gallery can exist on the Internet, where a viewer can sit at home and view images placed in public areas online just as if you were walking down the street of Chicago. Douglass’ article shows that the future art gallery could have 3d pieces you download and using a 3d printer you can view the image as if you were standing in front of the real thing.
The step after a 3d model could be a working machine, a computer, a house, a car. The future of technology holds not limits. We can pass any amount of information across the Internet in a much faster amount of time than transferring the file any other way.
The Internet and technology are the biggest components in which will continue to perpetuate the New-Media movement and with the availability of new technologies everyday the genre will continue at just as fast of a rate as the movement started.
To any future researchers I am sure that you will have no trouble finding new fascinating ways that people are creating art with old and new electronics. I would tell you to focus on the art outside of the galleries and look into the many festivals that are dedicated to not just the art but also the culture.
That is a place in which you will not only see great art but also get a feel for the culture and understand all the different aesthetics at play.
If I could go back and focus on an area more in this paper I wish that I could have focused more on video because video is a really exciting medium but I simply could not find good enough sources to include the genre.
Kane, C. L. (2010). Digital Art and Experimental Color Systems at Bell Laboratories, 1965- 1984:Restoring Interdisciplinary Innovations to Media History. Leonardo, 43(1), 53-58
Paul, C. (2002). Renderings of Digital Art. Leonardo, 35(5), 471-484. doi:10.1162/002409402320774303
Lovejoy, Margot (2003). In Encyclopedia of Computer Science. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com/entry/encyccs/computer_art
Ruth Gilbert, P. (2009). Rewind: Transgressing the Limits of Art. A Conversation with Quebec Multi Media Artist, Bonnie Baxter. Contemporary French & Francophone Studies, 13(5), 589-599.
LÜTTICKEN, S. (2010). Transforming Time. Grey Room, (41), 24-47.
Bond, G. W. (2005). SOFTWARE AS ART. Communications Of The ACM, 48(8), 118-124.
Menkman, Rosa. (2011). Glitch momentum. Amsterdam: Network Notebooks.
Owens, Paul. (Producer). (2008). Reformat the Plannet [Documentary].
United States: 2 Player Proudctions
Douglas, Louis. (March 29, 2012). rhizome.org. In Rhizome. Retrieved April 2,2012, from http://rhizome.org/editorial/2012/mar/29/diacritics-glitchr-draft/.
Huff, Jason. (March 12,2012). rhizome.org. In Rhizome. Retrieved April 2,2012, from http://rhizome.org/editorial/2012/mar/14/beyond-surface-15-years-desktop-aesthetics/.
Rothstein, Adam. (March 8th, 2012). rhizome.com. In Rhizome. Retrieved April 2, 2012, from http://rhizome.org/editorial/?page=5.