New media art

  (Redirected from Media arts)

New media art includes artworks designed and produced by means of new media technologies, comprising virtual art, computer graphics, computer animation, digital art, interactive art, sound art, Internet art, video games, robotics, 3D printing, and cyborg art. The term defines itself by the thereby created artwork, which differentiates itself from that deriving from conventional visual arts (i.e. architecture, painting, sculpture, etc.). This emphasis on medium is a defining feature of much contemporary art and 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 may involve degrees of interaction between artwork and observer or between the artist and the public, as is the case in performance art. 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.

Newskool ASCII Screenshot with the words “Closed Society II”
Eduardo Kac's installation "Genesis" Ars Electronica 1999
10.000 moving cities, Marc Lee, 2013, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Seoul, Korea

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 image inventions of the 19th century such as the phenakistiscope (1833), the praxinoscope (1877) and Eadweard Muybridge's zoopraxiscope (1879). From the 1900s through the 1960s, various forms of kinetic and light art, from Thomas Wilfred's 'Lumia' (1919) and 'Clavilux' light organs to Jean Tinguely's self-destructing sculpture Homage to New York (1960) can be seen as progenitors of new media art.

In 1958 Wolf Vostell became the first artist to incorporate a television set into their work, when he included one in his 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 in the 1990s combined with the spreading of the Web and the Internet favored the emergence of new and various forms of interactive art by Ken Feingold, Lynn Hershman Leeson, David Rokeby, Ken Rinaldo, Perry Hoberman, Tamas Waliczky; telematic art by Roy Ascott, Paul Sermon, Michael Bielický; Internet art by Vuk Ćosić, Jodi; virtual and immersive art by Jeffrey Shaw, Maurice Benayoun, Monika Fleischmann, and large scale urban installation by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. In Geneva, the Centre pour l'Image Contemporaine or CIC coproduced with Centre Georges Pompidou from Paris and the Museum Ludwig in Cologne the first internet video archive of new media art.[7]

Maurizio Bolognini, Sealed Computers (Nice, France, 1992–1998). This installation uses computer codes to create endless flows of random images that nobody would see. (Images are continuously generated but they are prevented from becoming a physical artwork).[8]
World Skin (1997), Maurice Benayoun's Virtual Reality Interactive Installation (Photo Safari in the Land of War)

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

Influences on new media art have been the theories developed around interaction, hypertext, databases, and networks. Important thinkers in this regard have been Vannevar Bush and Theodor Nelson, whereas comparable ideas can be found in the literary works of Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, and Julio Cortázar.


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.

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.[11] There are significant differences between scientist-artists, activist-artists and technological artists closer to the art system, who not only have different training and technocultures, but have different artistic production.[12] 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.

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, 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. New media art includes "explorations of code and user interface; interrogations of archives, databases, and networks; production via automated scraping, filtering, cloning, and recombinatory techniques; applications of user-generated content (UGC) layers; crowdsourcing ideas on social- media platforms; narrowcasting digital selves on "free" websites that claim copyright; and provocative performances that implicate audiences as participants".[13]

One of the key themes in new media art is to create visual views of databases. Pioneers in this area include Lisa Strausfeld, Martin Wattenberg[14] and Alberto Frigo.[15] 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.

The emergence of 3D printing has introduced a new bridge to new media art, joining the virtual and the physical worlds. The rise of this technology has allowed artists to blend the computational base of new media art with the traditional physical form of sculpture. A pioneer in this field was artist Jonty Hurwitz who created the first known anamorphosis sculpture using this technique.


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,[16] the digital archiving of media (see the Rhizome ArtBase, which holds over 2000 works, and the Internet Archive), and the use of emulators to preserve work dependent on obsolete software or operating system environments.[17][18]

Around the mid-90s, the issue of storing works in digital form became a concern. Digital art such as moving images, multimedia, interactive programs, and computer-generated art has different properties than physical artwork such as oil paintings and sculptures. Unlike analog technologies, a digital file can be recopied onto a new medium without any deterioration of content. One of the problems with preserving digital art is that the formats continuously change over time. Former examples of transitions include that from 8-inch floppy disks to 5.25-inch floppies, 3-inch diskettes to CD-ROMs, and DVDs to flash drives. On the horizon is the obsolescence of flash drives and portable hard drives, as data is increasingly held in online cloud storage.[19]

Museums and galleries thrive off of being able to accommodate the presentation and preservation of physical artwork. New media art challenges the original methods of the art world when it comes to documentation, its approach to collection and preservation. Technology continues to advance, and the nature and structure of art organizations and institutions will remain in jeopardy. The traditional roles of curators and artist are continually changing, and a shift to new collaborative models of production and presentation is needed.[20]


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.[21] 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.[21]

In the United States, many Bachelor's and Master's level programs exist with concentrations on Media Art, New Media, Media Design, Digital Media and Interactive Arts.[22]

Leading art theorists and historiansEdit

Leading art theorists and historians in this field include Roy Ascott, Lev Manovich, Maurice Benayoun, Christine Buci-Glucksmann, Jack Burnham, Mario Costa, Edmond Couchot, Fred Forest, Oliver Grau, Margot Lovejoy, Robert C. Morgan, Dominique Moulon, Christiane Paul, Catherine Perret, Frank Popper, and Edward A. Shanken.


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



Cultural centresEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Web Design & New Media". Archived from the original on 2014-06-04. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
  2. ^ Shanken, Edward A. "Artists in Industry and the Academy: Collaborative Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship, and the Creation and Interpretation of Hybrid Forms" (PDF). Leonardo 38:5 (2005). pp. 415–18.
  3. ^ "Contemporary Art and New Media: Toward a Hybrid Discourse?".
  4. ^ "Media Art Net - Vostell, Wolf: German View from the Black Room Cycle".
  5. ^ "Media Art Net - Vostell, Wolf: Television Décollage".
  6. ^ "La Plissure du Texte". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
  7. ^ "Nouveaux Media - New Media - Neue Medien".
  8. ^ Andreas Broeckmann, "Image, Process, Performance, Machine: Aspects of an Aesthetics of the Machinic", in Oliver Grau (ed.) (2007), Media Art Histories, Cambridge: MIT Press, ISBN 978-0-262-07279-3CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link), pp. 204-205.
  9. ^ Mark Tribe, Reena Jana (2007), New Media Art, Introduction, Rome: Taschen, ISBN 978-3-8228-2537-2
  10. ^ Maurizio Bolognini (2008), Postdigitale (in Italian), Rome: Carocci Editore, ISBN 978-88-430-4739-0
  11. ^ Catricalà, Valentino (2015). Media Art. Toward a new Definition of Arts in the Age of Technology. Gli Ori. ISBN 978-88-7336-564-8.
  12. ^ See also Maurizio Bolognini, "From interactivity to democracy. Towards a post-digital generative art", Artmedia X Proceedings. Paris, 2010.
  13. ^ Dale Hudson and Patricia R. Zimmermann. (2015). Thinking Through Digital Media Transnational Environments and Locative Places. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. P. 1. ISBN 978-1137433626
  14. ^ Bulajic, Viktorija Vesna (2007). Database aesthetics: art in the age of information overflow. University of Minnesota Press.
  15. ^ Moulon, Dominique (2013). Contemporary new media art. Nouvelles éditions Scala.
  16. ^ "Digital Rosetta Stone" (PDF).
  17. ^ Rinehart, Richard. "Preserving the Rhizome ArtBase (report)". Archived from the original on 2005-01-16.
  18. ^ Rose, Frank (2016-10-21). "The Mission to Save Vanishing Internet Art". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  19. ^ "Longevity of Electronic Art". Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  20. ^ New media in the white cube and beyond : curatorial models for digital art. Paul, Christiane. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2008. ISBN 9780520255975. OCLC 225871513.CS1 maint: others (link)
  21. ^ a b "The School of Art and Design - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign". Archived from the original on 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  22. ^ "New Media Programs in the United States — Dr. Edgar Huang".

Further readingEdit