[ISEA2000] Paper: Roy Ascott – Moistmedia, Technoetics and the Three V.R.s


Whilst the world at large is only just coming to terms with the Net and the computerisation of society, another media shift is occurring, whose consequences are likely to be even greater. The silicon dry digital domain of computers is converging with the wet biological world of living systems. The moist media emerging from this convergence will be the substrate of the art of this century, as telematics, biotechnology and nano-engineering together enter the working process of artists, designers, performers and architects. Just as globalisation means that not only are we are all connected, but that our ideas, institutions, even our own identities are constantly in flux, so too will moistmedia bridge the artificial and natural domains, transforming the relationship between consciousness and the material world. We move fast not only across the face of the earth but across the reach of our minds.


The dry world of computational virtuality and the wet world of biological systems are converging to produce a new substrate for creative work, moistmedia, consisting of bits, atoms, neurons, and genes. There is also a convergence of three VRs:

  1. -Virtual Reality (interactive digital technology): elematic, immersive.
  2. -Validated Reality (reactive mechanical technology): prosaic, Newtonian.
  3. -Vegetal Reality (psychoactive plant technology): entheogenic, spiritual.

At this interspace lies the great challenge to both science and art: the nature of consciousness. A technoetic aesthetic is needed which, in consort with moistmedia, may enable us as artists to address the key questions of our time:

-what is it to be human in the post-biological culture?

-what is the ontology of mind and body distributed in cyberspace?

-how to deal with the responsibility of redefining nature and even life itself ?

-what aspects of the immaterial can contribute the re-materialisation of art?

  • Roy Ascott, UK

Full text  p.1-7