The challenge of the unready and the unforeseen. The omnipresence of technology dares artists to find their voices using new media.
While there is plenty of discussion about ease of artwork distribution, the reproduction of existent art in 256 colors and the economic implications of digital copyright, the crucial question remains the nature of art. As a practicing artist and interested spectator of biology, I’ve found the metaphor of artistic development as a genetic development intriguing and practical. Often, a change in the our angle of thought allows us to capitalize on the unexpected. Art, like all other human activities will develop by trial, error, and inexorable serendipity independent of analysis. Yet reflection in situ offers an orienting chronicle of our hopes and fears. The questions raised by this paper are equivalent to the inscriptions of ancient cartographers who wrote, “Here be monsters” on the seductive blank spaces bordering their known world. Facing a new technology can be disorienting for artists who have the habit of entrenching themselves in a medium to
perfect it. Role models for approaching new technology include Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. Along with the Bauhaus movement aligned towards the machine, Duchamp appropriated the ready-made and Warhol, the commercialized mass production of objects. They responded to the technology of production by kidnapping it and calling it art. Following their appropriating precedent, artists can sleep well, to paraphrase Duchamp: as artists, we define art. Nam June Paik has also pioneered efforts to synthesize artistic and technological creativity. By presuming an interaction between viewer and work, he has highlighted the importance of interactively for the artist and audience alike. His optimistic view of technology tames the specter of machines to a friendly means of expression for everyone. New media requires a unique process of constant learning the latest developments and forgetting the obsolete. Everyday, artists exploring with technology glean anew what is useful to their work from past, present and future alike. The metaphor of biological development for artistic development interests us on two levels: the first, recontextualizing the history of art, and the second, a different level, extrapolating the Internet as an organism. In conclusion we use this metaphor as a method to help us understand the topography of the present.
- Anita Cheng, France, Computer digital media is her ninth life. Her previous incarnations were concert pianist, writer, dancer, choreographer and videographer. Now straight into hyperspace, she survives in Manhattan, NY, USA
- Ronaldo Kiel is a Brazilian living in New York for the past five years, he has worked as a teacher (Brooklyn College), a consultant and freelance designer (Fairchild Publications) and now as an art director in a multimedia department (Bear & Stearns). Always involved with computer graphics, he claims he never dealt with the English language.
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