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New media art

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New media art

Newskool ASCII Screenshot
Eduardo Kac's installation "Genesis" Ars Electronica 1999
10.000 moving cities, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Seoul, Korea 2013

New media art is a genre that encompasses artworks created with new media technologies, including digital art, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, Internet art, interactive art, video games, computer robotics, 3d printing, and art as biotechnology. The term differentiates itself by its resulting cultural objects and social events, which can be seen in opposition to those deriving from old visual arts (i.e. traditional painting, sculpture, etc.). This concern with medium is a key feature of much contemporary art and indeed many art schools and major Universities now offer majors in "New Genres" or "New Media"[1] and a growing number of graduate programs have emerged internationally.[2] New Media Art often involves interaction between artist and observer or between observers and the artwork, which responds to them. Yet, as several theorists and curators have noted, such forms of interaction, social exchange, participation, and transformation do not distinguish new media art but rather serve as a common ground that has parallels in other strands of contemporary art practice.[3] Such insights emphasize the forms of cultural practice that arise concurrently with emerging technological platforms, and question the focus on technological media, per se.

New Media concerns are often derived from the telecommunications, mass media and digital electronic modes of delivering the artworks involve, with practices ranging from conceptual to virtual art, performance to installation.


The origins of new media art can be traced to the moving photographic inventions of the late 19th century such as the Jean Tinguely's self-destructing sculpture 'Homage to New York' (1960) can be seen as progenitors of new media art.

In 1958 Wolf Vostell becomes the first artist who incorporates a television set into one of his works. The Black Room Cycle.[4] This installation is part of the collection of the Berlinische Galerie.

During the 1960s the development of then new technologies of video produced the new media art experiments of Nam June Paik, and Wolf Vostell with the installation 6 TV Dé-coll/age in 1963 at the Smolin Gallery in New York.[5] A. Michael Noll, and multimedia performances of E.A.T., Fluxus and Happening. In 1983, Roy Ascott introduced the concept of "distributed authorship" in his worldwide telematic project La Plissure du Texte [6] for Frank Popper's "Electra" at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris . The development of computer graphics at the end of the 1980s and real time technologies then in the 1990s combined with the spreading of the Web and the Internet favored the emergence of new and various forms of interactivity art by Lynn Hershman Leeson, David Rokeby, Ken Rinaldo, Perry Hoberman; telematic art by Roy Ascott; Internet art by Vuk Ćosić, Jodi; virtual and immersive art by Jeffrey Shaw, Maurice Benayoun and large scale urban installation by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

World Skin (1997), Maurice Benayoun's Virtual Reality Interactive Installation

Simultaneously advances in biotechnology have also allowed artists like Eduardo Kac to begin exploring DNA and genetics as a new art medium.

New Media Art influences on new media art have been the theories developed around Italo Calvino, and Julio Cortázar. These elements have been especially revolutionary for the field of narrative and anti-narrative studies, leading explorations into areas such as non-linear and interactive narratives. A contemporary timeline of media art can be found here.[7]


G.H. Hovagimyan "A Soapopera for iMacs"
Gopakumar R. P. Linguistics River, Internet art
Michael Demers, 2009. Color Field Paintings (Browser).
Maurizio Bolognini's programmed machines (Computer sigillati series, 1992): hundreds of computers have been producing endless flows of random images.[8]

In the book New Media Art, Mark Tribe and Reena Jana named several themes that contemporary new media art addresses, including computer art, collaboration, identity, appropriation, open sourcing, telepresence, surveillance, corporate parody, as well as intervention and hacktivism.[9] In the book Postdigitale,[10] Maurizio Bolognini suggested that new media artists have one common denominator, which is a self-referential relationship with the new technologies, the result of finding oneself inside an epoch-making transformation determined by technological development. Nevertheless new media art does not appear as a set of homogeneous practices, but as a complex field converging around three main elements: 1) the art system, 2) scientific and industrial research, and 3) political-cultural media activism. There are significant differences between scientist-artists, activist-artists and technological artists closer to the art system, who not only do have different training and technocultures, but have different artistic production.[11] This should be taken into account in examining the several themes addressed by new media art.

Non-linearity can be seen as an important topic to new media art by artists developing interactive, generative, collaborative, immersive artworks like Jeffrey Shaw or Maurice Benayoun who explored the term as an approach to looking at varying forms of digital projects where the content relays on the user's experience. This is a key concept since people acquired the notion that they were conditioned to view everything in a linear and clear-cut fashion. Now, art is stepping out of that form and allowing for people to build their own experiences with the piece. Non-linearity describes a project that escape from the conventional linear narrative coming from novels, theater plays and movies. Non-linear art usually requires audience participation or at least, the fact that the "visitor" is taken into consideration by the representation, altering the displayed content. The participatory aspect of new media art, which for some artists has become integral, emerged from Allan Kaprow's Happenings and became with Internet, a significant component of contemporary art. Art is not produced as a completed object submitted to the audience appreciation, it is a process in permanent mutation.

The inter-connectivity and interactivity of the internet, as well as the fight between corporate interests, governmental interests, and public interests that gave birth to the web today, fascinate and inspire a lot of current new media art.

Many new media art projects also work with themes like politics and social consciousness, allowing for social activism through the interactive nature of the media.

One of the key themes in new media art is to create visual views of databases. Pioneers in this area include Lisa Strausfeld and Martin Wattenberg.[12] Database aesthetics holds at least two attractions to new media artists: formally, as a new variation on non-linear narratives; and politically as a means to subvert what is fast becoming a form of control and authority.

Presentation and preservation

As the technologies used to deliver works of new media art such as film, tapes, web browsers, software and operating systems become obsolete, New Media art faces serious issues around the challenge to preserve artwork beyond the time of its contemporary production. Currently, research projects into New media art preservation are underway to improve the preservation and documentation of the fragile media arts heritage (see DOCAM - Documentation and Conservation of the Media Arts Heritage).

Methods of preservation exist, including the translation of a work from an obsolete medium into a related new medium,[13] the digital archiving of media (see Internet Archive), and the use of emulators to preserve work dependent on obsolete software or operating system environments.[14][15]


In New Media programs, students are able to get acquainted with the newest forms of creation and communication. New Media students learn to identify what is or isn't "new" about certain technologies.[16] Science and the market will always present new tools and platforms for artists and designers. Students learn how to sort through new emerging technological platforms and place them in a larger context of sensation, communication, production, and consumption.

When obtaining a Bachelor's degree in New Media students will primarily work through practice of building experiences that utilize new and old technologies and narrative. Through the construction of projects in various media, they acquire technical skills, practice vocabularies of critique and analysis, and gain familiarity with historical and contemporary precedents.[16]

Leading art theorists and historians

Leading art theorists and historians in this field include Joseph Nechvatal, Christiane Paul, Catherine Perret, Frank Popper, and Edward A. Shanken.


The term New Media Art is generally applied to disciplines such as:



Cultural centres

See also


  1. ^ "Academy of Art New Media Degree"
  2. ^ Shanken, Edward A. "Artists in Industry and the Academy: Collaborative Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship, and the Creation and Interpretation of Hybrid Forms,” Leonardo 38:5 (2005): 415-18.
  3. ^ Shanken, Edward "Contemporary Art and New Media: Toward a Hybrid Discourse?" (2011); Quaranta, Domenico, "Postmedia Perspective" (2011); Graham, Beryl and Sarah Cook, Rethinking Curating (2010).
  4. ^ , 1958Black Room CycleWolf Vostell,
  5. ^ , 19636 TV Dé-coll/ageWolf Vostell,
  6. ^ (
  7. ^ Hoetzlein, 2009. Timeline of 20th c. Art and Media
  8. ^ S. Solimano (ed.) (2005), Maurizio Bolognini. Programmed Machines 1990-2005, Genoa: Villa Croce Museum of Contemporary Art, Neos,  .
  9. ^  
  10. ^  
  11. ^ See also Maurizio Bolognini, "From interactivity to democracy. Towards a post-digital generative art", Artmedia X Proceedings. Paris, 2010.
  12. ^ Bulajic, Viktorija Vesna (2007). Database aesthetics: art in the age of information overflow. University of Minnesota Press. 
  13. ^ Digital Rosetta Stone
  14. ^ Preserving the Rhizome ArtBase, a report by Richard Rinehart for
  15. ^ Cultural Heritage as a Mediation of Digital Culture, a report by Nina Zschocke; Gabriele Blome; Monika Fleischmann for
  16. ^ a b New Media Faculty, (2011). "New Media", University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. [1].

Further reading

  • Maurice Benayoun, The Dump, 207 Hypotheses for Committing Art, bilingual (English/French) Fyp éditions, France, July 2011, ISBN 978-2-916571-64-5
  • Timothy Murray, Derrick de Kerckhove, Oliver Grau, Kristine Stiles, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Dominique Moulon, Jean-Pierre Balpe, Maurice Benayoun Open Art, Nouvelles éditions Scala, 2011, French version, ISBN 978-2-35988-046-5
  • Vannevar Bush (1945). "As We May Think" online at The Atlantic MonthlyAs We May Think –
  • Roy Ascott (2003). Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness (Ed.) Edward A. Shanken. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-21803-1
  • Barreto, Ricardo and Perissinotto, Paula “the_culture_of_immanence”, in Internet Art. Ricardo Barreto e Paula Perissinotto (orgs.). São Paulo, IMESP, 2002. ISBN 85-7060-038-0.
  • The Garden of Forking Paths." Editorial Sur.
  • Nicolas Bourriaud, (1997) Relational Aesthetics, Dijon: Les Presses du Réel, 2002, orig. 1997
  • Christine Buci-Glucksmann, "L’art à l’époque virtuel", in Frontières esthétiques de l’art, Arts 8, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2004
  • Christine Buci-Glucksmann, La folie du voir: Une esthétique du virtuel, Galilée, 2002
  • Sarah Cook & Beryl Graham, Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-262-01388-8.
  • Sarah Cook & Beryl Graham, "Curating New Media", Art Monthly 261, November 2002. online at Art Monthly
  • Sarah Cook, Verina Gfader, Beryl Graham & Axel Lapp, A Brief History of Curating New Media Art - Conversations with Curators, Berlin: The Green Box, 2010. ISBN 978-3-941644-20-5.
  • Sarah Cook, Verina Gfader, Beryl Graham & Axel Lapp, A Brief History of Working with New Media Art - Conversations with Artists, Berlin: The Green Box, 2010. ISBN 978-3-941644-21-2.
  • Fleischmann, Monika and Reinhard, Ulrike (eds.). Digital Transformations - Media Art as at the Interface between Art, Science, Economy and Society online at, 2004, ISBN 3-934013-38-4
  • Monika Fleischmann / Wolfgang Strauss (eds.) (2001). Proceedings of »CAST01//Living in Mixed Realities« Intl. Conf. On Communication of Art, Science and Technology, Fraunhofer IMK 2001, 401. ISSN 1618–1379 (Print), ISSN 1618–1387 (Internet).
  • Gatti, Gianna Maria. (2010) The Technological Herbarium. Avinus Press, Berlin, 2010 (edited, translated from the Italian, and with a preface by Alan N. Shapiro). online at
  • Charlie Gere, (2002) Digital Culture, Reaktion ISBN 978-1-86189-143-3
  • Charlie Gere, (2006) White Heat, Cold Logic: Early British Computer Art, co-edited with Paul Brown, Catherine Mason and Nicholas Lambert, MIT Press/Leonardo Books
  • Graham, Philip Mitchell, New Epoch Art, InterACTA: Journal of the Art Teachers Association of Victoria, Published by ACTA, Parkville, Victoria, No 4, 1990, ISSN 0159-9135, Cited In APAIS. This database is available on the, Informit Online Internet Service or on CD-ROM, or on Australian Public Affairs - Full Text
  • Oliver Grau (2003). Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion (Leonardo Book Series). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press/Leonardo Books. ISBN 0-262-07241-6.
  • Oliver Grau (2007). (Ed.) MediaArtHistories. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press/Leonardo Books. ISBN 0-262-07279-3.
  • Mark Hansen, (2004) New Philosophy for New Media (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press)
  • Dick Higgins, ‘Intermedia’ (1966), reprinted in Donna De Salvo (ed.), Open Systems Rethinking Art c. 1970, London: Tate Publishing, 2005
  • Lopes, Dominic McIver. (2009). A Philosophy of Computer Art. London: Routledge
  • Lev Manovich (2001). The Language of New Media Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press/Leonardo Books. ISBN 0-262-63255-1
  • Lev Manovich, Ten Key Texts on Digital Art: 1970-2000 Leonardo - Volume 35, Number 5, October 2002, pp. 567–569
  • Christiane Paul, Challenges for a Ubiquitous Museum: Presenting and Preserving New Media
  • The New Media Reader. MIT Press.
  • Mondloch, Kate. Screens: Viewing Media Installation Art. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8166-6522-8
  • Dominique Moulon, Tim Murray, Kristine Stiles, Derrick de Kerckhove, Oliver Grau Open Art, Maurice Benayoun, Nouvelles editions Scala, 2011, ISBN 978-2-35988-046-5
  • Paul, Christiane (2003). Digital Art (World of Art series). London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-20367-9.
  • Robert C. Morgan, Commentaries on the New Media Arts Pasadena, CA: Umbrella Associates,1992
  • Janet Murray (2003). "Inventing the Medium", The New Media Reader. MIT Press.
  • Frank Popper (2007) From Technological to Virtual Art, MIT Press/Leonardo Books
  • Frank Popper (1997) Art of the Electronic Age, Thames & Hudson
  • Edward A. Shanken Selected Writings on Art and Technology
  • Edward A. Shanken Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7148-4782-5
  • Mark Tribe and Reena Jana. New Media Art.
  • Rainer Usselmann, (2003) "The Dilemma of Media Art: Cybernetic Serendipity at the ICA London", Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press/Leonardo Journal - Volume 36, Number 5, pp. 389–396
  • Rainer Usselmann, (2002) "About Interface: Actualisation and Totality", University of Southampton
  • Wands, Bruce (2006). Art of the Digital Age, London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-23817-0.
  • Whitelaw, Mitchell (2004). Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-73176-2.
  • Steve Dietz Collecting New Media Art: Just Like Anything Else, Only Different
  • Anne-Cécile Worms, (2008) Arts Numériques: Tendances, Artistes, Lieux et Festivals M21 Editions 2008 ISBN 2-916260-33-1.
  • Youngblood, Gene (1970). Expanded Cinema. New York. E.P. Dutton & Company.
  • (Spanish) Juan Martín Prada, Prácticas artísticas e Internet en la época de las redes sociales, Editorial AKAL, Madrid, 2012, ISBN 978-84-460-3517-6
  • New Media Faculty, (2011). "New Media", University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign.
  • Volker Staub (2009) "Vernetzungen : Neue Musik im Spannungsfeld von Wissenschaft und Technik", Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG, Mainz, Germany ISBN 978-3-7957-8139
  • Bailey, Chris & Hazel Gardiner. (2010). Revisualizing Visual Culture. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Jana, Reena and Mark Tribe. (2009). New Media Art. New York: Taschen.
  • Moss, Ceci. (2008). Thoughts on “New Media Artists v. Artists with Computers”. Rhizome artists-with-/.
  • Nechvatal, Joseph. (2013). Whither Art? David Joselit's Digital Art Problem. "Hyperallergic: Sensitive to Art & its Discontents."
  • Joselit, David. (2012). After Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691150444.
  • Guertin, C. (2012). Digital prohibition: Piracy and authorship in new media art. London: Continuum International Pub. Group. ISBN 9781441106100.
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