[FISEA’93] Paper: Delle Maxwell & Annette Weintraub – A User’s Guide to the Electronic Cliche


Come on down! Embark on a search for new esthetic possibilities at the frontier of the digital revolution. Journey to the Edge, the place where art, science, entertainment and industry meet. See the Zone ruled by net cowboys, outlaws, digital revolutionaries and data surfers. The new breed of cyber-artist is exploring how mere images can be transformed into art-unique art. All with the aid of radically new tools! Stake your claim in cyberspace and help capture the imagination of the Entire Planet! Net SW! Skateboard to Cyberspace! Where Electronics and Art Converge. Entertainment enters a new dimension. And companies don’t want to ‘miss out’.  If only myth and reality coincided. You may recognize this breathless hype as the cheerleader surrogate of the datasphere. It surrounds our interactions with electronic art, science and the computer industry. These verbal formulas have visual equivalents as well. It’s now almost a cliche to state that electronic art is cliched Everyone agrees. What does this mean?

Digital art has a “perception problem”. It promises much more than it delivers. Witness the
science-fiction extrapolation about its boundless potential for “changmg the way we think”. Ads
create false claims about new aesthetics which spring into existence in barely a nanosecond.
Electronic tools, with their highly specific “effects,” spawn their own sets of cliches. Not yet able
to grasp a vision of the electronic datasphere, artists unknowingly map new images into old
formats and old images into new formats. This peculiar combination of cutting-edge technology
and familiar images leads to cliche. The close connections between art and industry complicate this mix. Installations inadvertently function as marketing demos of new techniques; scientific
illustration passes for both art and science. Image is mistaken for art.

  • Delle Maxwell, Independent artist, USA
  • Annette Weintraub, The City College of New York, USA

Full text p.83-93