Before any discussion of the history of New Media can take place, one has to define the terminology. There has to be a consensus as to what falls into this category. The title of this talk, “From Computer Art to Digital Art to New Media” indicates the lineage of the term. These terms have changed but not the definition. As the terms have evolved they have not become more distinct but broader and more difficult to define.
Computer Art was a term that was used at the beginning of this art form. It evoked the mechanical, bringing up the question of whether people could produce art with a machine. The word digital has evolved to express the process of the machine. It is digital because it comes from discrete bits and bytes. It is digital because the computer interpreted the images, the audio, or motion in a discrete format. Today most all media is digital or manipulated digitally.
Of the three terms used in this title, New Media is the most general and ambiguous. ‘New’ is relative. Every day there is something new. In the 1970’s the term ‘new genre’ was used to describe a new art form that involved video. Is this still the new genre? Is New Media the new genre?
The term New Media has been used to refer to electronic media which has been in existence since the 1940’s. Sixty years later and into a new century, I think it is time to redefine this term. The definition I like most involves interactivity, the very item that makes it unique to the computer medium, and most specifically in today’s world, interactivity on the Internet.
- Lucy Petrovich, Department of Media Arts, University of Arizona, USA
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