[ISEA98] Panel: Josepha Havemann – Are There Revolutionary Electronic Ethics?

Panel Statement

Panel: Revolution of the Public Sphere

Ethics, by definition are neither electronic nor revolutionary. Ethics represent a society’s moral code which has been developed indigenously throughout its history or modified through contact with neighbouring cultures. Ethics represent a society’s mores, often more theoretical than practical. Even if carved in stone, the practice of a people’s ethical system wavers according to circumstances.  Examine what happened to the Euro-American copyright ethic, the advent of software piracy and the rapid popularity growth of personal computers. 0r look at the early Internet, whose users developed an appropriate ethical/etiquette and how, due to the broader based tidal wave of general and commercial use, that code is suffering from serious erosion. Changing circumstances can create a short-circuit in a society’s ethical system which may favor the practical values over the ideal. As we see with sub-cultures such as those ofcommerce or the military which have their own ethics. The widespread explosion of media in global communications has created other sub-cultures which establish their own mode of ethics adapted from the parent societies’ code. To date these have been western and relatively homogeneous, a situation that will be changing through interaction with very different cultures.

Today’s “aesthetic” of digital art originates from a carefully applied amalgam of a myriad of new creative options. Does digital art have its own “look and feel”? It can and often does, but since the improvements in image resolution with the resultant shrinking of the blocky pixel, even a computer-based painting is not limited to that pixellated “look” any more. I believe that the digital aesthetic, the beauty of digital art, lies in its capacity to surpass the traditional limitations of previous media and its ability to allow the merging of aspects or techniques that used to be the exclusive domain of distinctly separate media. The digital aesthetic is most readily experienced in the images that successfully integrate effects from previously divergent sources. Ideally, these new creations should be enjoyed at face value. That is, as new unified works, appreciated for what they express about art, or other important matters. The most important thing to remember is that art in any form is not created by the tools but by the imagination and skill of the operator, the artist! The digital aesthetic merely echoes a gift from the twentieth century: that the sky is no longer the limit!

  • Josepha Havemann (NL/USA), Berkeley, California, can best be described today as a media artist. She has created art in a variety of traditional media, first from painting and photography to printmaking and then with various computer based graphics, a field she started to explore shortly after her fiftieth birthday! Ms. Haveman’s special academic focus is in the inter-relationship between media, culture and society throughout its development, from pre-historic times into the future. Josepha grew up -and first studied art- in Amsterdam, then pursued a degree in art and anthropology at San Francisco State University, followed by graduate work in cultural anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley while also working as a staff member at the Museum of Anthropology there. Since then Prof. Haveman has also received an advanced degree in art and has taught photography as fine art at academies, colleges and universities in California, Oregon, Israel, and Europe. Her work, especially her photography and early digital art, has been exhibited widely at galleries and museums in various countries. Josepha Haveman has been exploring the potentials of digital media in art, design, and education using personal computers, since 1981. She also has been producing CD ROMs on art, anthropol-ogy and the environment resulting in eleven discs of art, photography and educational subjects published between 1990 and 1996. A complete resume, much more information plus an overview of her pictorial work, can be found at Haveman’s extensive web site.  web.archive.org/web/20070302110741/http://www.illuminated.com/JH_ArtArchive