Possible Thesis Statements
Improving Communication >> Expanding Consciousness >> Transcending Perception
With proper development and guidance the newly developing medium of Virtual Reality will allow for new forms of communication between artist and viewer through immersive participatory experiences which satisfy all of the senses rather than any one in particular.
Virtual Reality provides new modes of creative expression not yet imagined, and through the development of novel instruments and tools, artists will be enabled to create in a world capable of expanding perception beyond the normal physical limits.
Printed in standard format.
As hyperlinked text on blog (can be accessed linearly or through non-deterministic links on each page).
Accessible in VR as randomized but coherent (and relevant) chunks of data.
1. Theoretical Context
- Perception as mental construction based on reality
- Interface theory of perception
- Reality is far more expansive than our senses are capable of handling
- Reality should not be narrowly defined as the verifiable and detectable phenomena, but rather all that which may exist beyond detection.
- eg. Gravity, Quantum physics, electromagnetism, etc. have always been there, as part of reality. We required tools which enhanced or expanded our perception to detect and quantify them. Even still our understanding of these phenomena is ultimately limited by our perception as we must be able to perceive the output of our tools.
- Art can be a tool for transcending the limits of perception, allowing us to gain insight into the “true” nature of reality. This transcendence may also provide some form of spirituality, in the acknowledgement and of the unknown. Art has the power to substantiate the intangible.
“An image may be without being perceived—it may be present without being represented—and the distance between these two terms, presence and representation, seems just to measure the interval between matter itself and our conscious perception of matter… Now, if living beings are, within the universe, just “centers of indetermination,” and if the degree of this indetermination is measured by the number and rank of their functions, we can conceive that their mere presence is equivalent to the suppression of those parts of objects in whic their functions find no interest. They allow to pass through them, so to speak, those external influences which are indifferent to them; the others isolated, become “perceptions” by their very isolation.”(Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, 35-36 cited in Mark Hansen, New Philsophy for New Media, 5)
“…I shall call this “affectivity”: the capacity o fthe body to experience itself as “more than itself” and thus to deploy its sensorimotor power to create the unpredictable, the experimental, the new. Active affection or affectivity is precisely what differentiates today’s sensorimotor body from the one Deleuze hastily dismisses: as a capacity to experience its own intensity, its own margin of indeterminacy, affectivity comprises a power of the body that cannot be assimilated to the habit-driven, associational logic governing perception.” (Mark Hansen, New Philsophy for New Media, 7-8)
“…there simply can be no such thing as “machinic perception”—unless that is, the human plays a more fundamental role in it than Johnston wants to acknowledge. Thus, what Johnston describes as a new “machinic space” should be understood less as an expansion of the domain of perception itself than as a vast increase in the flux of information from which perception can emerge.” (Hansen, New Philosophy, 101)
“…whereas “vision machines” transform the activity of perceiving into a computation of data tha is, for all intents and purposes, instantaneous, human perception takes place in a rich and evolving field to which bodily modalities of tactility, proprioception, memory and duration—what I am calling affectivity—make an irreducible and constitutive contribution.” (Hansen, New Philosophy, 101)
“Today, seeing the world is no longer understood as a process of copying but of modelling, a rendering based on data. A person does not see the world out there, she only sees the model created by the brain and projected outwards…” (Florian Rötzer, “re:Photograph.” in Photography after Photography: Memory and Representation in the Digital Age, cited in Hansen, New Philosophy, 106)
“Depth perception is a habit of movement. When we see one object at a distance behind another, what we are seeing is in a very real sense our own body’s potential to move between the objects or to touch them in succession. We are not using our eyes as organs of sight, if by sight we mean the cognitive operation of detecting and calculating forms at a distance. We are using our eyes as proprioceptors and feelers… Vision envelops proprioception and tactility… Seeing is never separate from other sense modalities. It is by nature synesthetic and synaesthesia is by nature kinesthetic.” (Brian Massumi, “Sensing the Virtual, Building the Insensible,” in Architectural design 68, cited in Hansen, New Philosophy, 109)
“Human communication has never been… beyond mediation… since it is clear that the constraints and limited range of our biological systems of perception, and the ordering experience by or languages, involve us in a continual process of construction our world” (Ascott, “Telenoia,” Telematic Embrace, 268)
“Double consciousness: The state of being that gives access, at one and the same time, to two distinctly different fields of experience: psychic space and cyberspace, the material world and the virtual, in an artwork and outside of it.” (Ascott, “Technoetic Aesthetics,” Telematic Embrace, 377) >> problematic due to the more common definition of double consciousness
“Phreno-fractals Freud is dead and the myth of the unified individual has been destroyed. We are each made up of many selves: de-centred, distributed, and tele-schizophrenic. Our minds have an infinity of phreno-fractals constantly creating alternative realities.” (Ascott, “Technoetic Aesthetics,” Telematic Embrace, 380)
“Telemadic: Where the ancients were nomadic, we are restlessly telemadic, our minds traversing the vast interspaces of the worldwide networks of technology and consciousness.” (Ascott, “Technoetic Aesthetics,” Telematic Embrace, 381)
“World-mind: Planetary self-awareness and cognition arising from the technoetic Web.” (Ascott, “Technoetic Aesthetics,” Telematic Embrace, 382)
“If the aesthetic is that event that brings together objects, sensations and subjectivity—the “aesthetic attidue,” for example—then it always involves mediation between the world and the mind. Aesthetics, in the narrow sense of the appreciation of art, is dependent on mediation by the senses of vision an dhearing; and with the benefit of a century of phenomenological studies, we must recognize that these senses are intrinsically temporal. There is always a “before” that comes ahead of any now… there is no mediated experience of time. (Sean Cubitt, “Aesthetics of the Digital,” A Companion to Digital Art, 265-266)
“…the aesthetic, Hansen argues, makes it available as a bodily experience below the threshold of conscious thought, even of perception. At the core of this theory lies both a humanist presumption that the heart of the aesthetic will always be a human being, and a specifically individualist humanism, even though what is being appealed to is pre-individual affectivity.” (Sean Cubitt, “Aesthetics of the Digital,” A Companion to Digital Art, 277)
“Embodiment is always more than what we know, more than what we experience or are; its potential must always include emergent experiences and practices outside of human perception.” (Nathaniel Stern, “Interactive Art,” A Companion to Digital Art, 313)
“There is no reason the objects displayed by a computer have to follow the ordinary rules of physical reality… The ultimate display would, of course, be a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter.” (Ivan Sutherland, “The Ultimate Display” cited in Foreword to New Philosophy for New Media,Tim Lenoir, xv)
“The aim in both cases is not simply to create a circuit linking the image and the body where the goal is to confer believability on the image, but rather to bring into play a supplementary element of bodily stimulation, itself independent of the “force” of the referent, which accompanies, so to speak, the experience of the image and confers a more concrete sense of “reality” on it.
“…[W]e are witnessing the end of an art in which the mimetic and symbolic were central. Its role in providing representations of the world is shifting to that of creating worlds, of inventing alternative realities, a process in which the observer of art becomes an active participant, a process from which art emerges. The attempt is no longer to imitate life but to emulate it…” (Ascott, “Telenoia,” Telematic Embrace, 271-272)
“Scientific inquiry, aided by advanced computing, imaging, and telemetry systems, is yielding up to us an entirely new kind of nature—its transformations of energy, its evolutive, emergent behaviours, its order in chaos, the birth and death of galaxies, molecular life, and quantum events, even mapping the movement of consciousness in our own brains—none of which is observable directly by the human eye, and non of which had previously been observed by human beings in the whole of recorded history. All of which presents a picture of nature quite unlike that “staged” for our viewing by Western artists and writers for the past five hundred years.” (Ascott, “Back to Nature II,” Telematic Embrace, 328)
- Technical communication is well understood – the physical capacity of a medium to reliably transmit a specific set of messages (aka signs or information) with no regard to their meaning or interpretation.
- Semantic communication is not well understood – meaning is not transmitted in communication, but rather is constructed through the interpretation of information. Meaning is lost at encoding by the sender, as meaning is beyond the bandwidth of transmission, but the meaning can be reconstructed upon decoding. As Stuart hall states, the sender can prescribe, but not define the codes used by the receiver.
- Thus communication at the semantic level is asymmetric: the meaning decoded by the receiver can approximate, but will never exactly match that of the sender
- By understanding this, we can control to some extent the level of asymmetry in the encoding process, by carefully selecting the appropriate media, methodology, and restricting the content to the bandwidth available. Sometimes we may desire to maximize symmetry, to make sure our message is “understood” while other times we may want to increase asymmetry, to encourage new thoughts.
- This asymmetry in semantic communication is essential to creativity. Without asymmetry, there would be no room for interpretation or new ideas. Creativity arises from decoding messages differently from how they were encoded. To have perfect symmetry in encoding and decoding is to trap the mind in a recursive loop devoid of growth.
- Communication never occurs in a vacuum. It always takes place in a network and in a semantic sense we form the nodes of that network. We are always both senders and receivers – there is no distinction. In a specific quantized event, the information may travel in one direction between two nodes. But the propagation of information and meaning as a result of that event effect a much larger number of nodes. Thus there is always some level of feedback, even when it is not implicit in the communcation “event”.
- Every communication event becomes to some extent inscribed into the codes we use for further communication. The codes themselves must have been communicated and thus are inherently asymmetric. While there must be some degree of symmetry for communication to work, it can be easy to overlook just how differently we each interpret a message.
- All art is of course communication
“Calculation is only one type of smartness. We don’t know what the full taxonomy of intelligence is right now. Some traits of human thinking will be common… but the possibility space of viable minds will likely contain traits far outside what we have evolved. It is not necessary that this type of thinking be faster than humans’, greater or deeper. In some cases it will be simpler.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 43-44)
“At the heart of this new regime of constant flux is ever tinier specks of computation. We are currently entering the third phase of computing, the Flows. The initial age of computing borrowed from the industrial age. As Marshall McLuhan observed, the first version of a new medium imitates the medium it replaces. The first commercial computers employed the metaphor of the office… The second digital age brought us the organizing principle of the web. The basic unit was no longer files but “pages.”… Now we are transitioning into the third age of computation. Pages and browsers are far less important. Today the prime units are flows and streams.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 63)
“Right now the best we can do in terms of interconnection is to link some text to its source’s title in a bibliography or in a footnote. Much better would be a link to a specific passage in another passage in a work, a technical feat not yet possible. But when we can link deeply into documents at the resolution of a sentence, and have those links go two ways, we’ll have networked books.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 95)
“Screens provoke action instead of persuasion. Propaganda is less effective in a world of screens, because while misinformation travels as fast as electrons, corrections do too… The status of a new creation is determined not by the rating given to it by critics but by the degree to which it is linked to the rest of the world. A person, artifact, or fact does not “exist” until it is linked.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 104) >>> Disagree, misinformation seems to be diverging from information rather than being corrected.
“For Ascott, art possessed value only to the extent that it enabled a mental, conceptual shift—a transformation of consciousness that altered the relationship of artist, artwork, and audience, thereby changing the behaviour of the system they constituted.” (Shanken, “From Cybernetics to Telematics,” in Ascott, Telematic Embrace, 11)
“Ascott’s Video Roget and Thesaurus drew an explicit parallel between the semiotics of verbal and visual languages. It proposed that the universe of potential meanings of his art could be derived taxonomically and discursively. In this multilayered process meaning was contingent on the flow of information between the artist, the object, the semantic systems that govern the reception of works of art, and the actual responses of viewers.” (Shanken, “From Cybernetics to Telematics,” in Ascott, Telematic Embrace, 13)
“Art itself becomae a cybernetic system, consisting of feedback loops that included the artist, the audience and the environment. This dynamic field of interacting processes and behavior constantly trasnformed the system as a whole.” (Shanken, “From Cybernetics to Telematics,” in Ascott, Telematic Embrace, 26)
The dominant feature of art of the past was the wish to transmit a clearly defined message to teh spectator, as a more or less passive receptor, from the artist, as a unique and highly individualized source. This deterministic aesthetic was centered upon the structuring, or “composition,” of facts, of concepts of the essence of things, encapsulated in a factually correct visual field. Modern art, by contrast, is concerned to initiate events, and with the forming of concepts of existence. The vision of art has shifted from the field of objects to the field of behaviour…
…The artist, the artifact and the spectator are all involved in a more behavioural context… [T]hese factors… draw the spectator into active participation in the act of creation; to extend him, via the artifact, the opportunity to become involved in creative behaviour on all levels of experience—physical, emotional, and conceptual. A feedback loop is established, so that the evolution of the artwork is governed by the intimate involvement of the spectator.
(Ascott, “Behaviourist Art and Cybernetic Vision,” Telematic Embrace, 110-111)
“[The computer] is a tool for the mind, an instrument for the magnification of though, potentially an ‘intelligence amplifier.’…The computer may be linked to an artwork, and the artwork may in some sense be a computer.” (Ascott, “Behaviourist Art and Cybernetic Vision,” Telematic Embrace, 129
“Brecht’s theory of two-way communication envisioned a less centralized and hierarchical network of communication, such that all points in the system were actively involved in the production of meaning.” (Shanken, “From Cybernetics to Telematics,” Telematic Embrace, 55)
“He celebrates telematic art as a “site of interaction and negotiation for meaning” that heralds a “sunrise of uncertainty… a joyous dance of meaning… [and suggests] a paradigm shift in our worldview, a redescription of reality”” (Shanken, “From Cybernetics to Telematics,” Telematic Embrace, 235)
Information complexity in contrast to effective complexity: Information complexity increases along with entropy – as a system becomes more unpredictable it becomes more “complex.” Effective complexity sees total order and total disorder as equivalent, and finds maximum complexity in the middle, when there’s a rich mixture of order and disorder. Paraphrased from (Philip Galanter, “Generative Art Theory,” A Companion to Digital Art, 157)
“Pushing the reader—the audience—to the front of creating meaning in art is to ignore the obvious. For centuries art has acted as a powerful binding force that brings people together, transmits culture from generation to generation, creates common understanding and experience, and provides visions for the future.” (Philip Galanter, “Generative Art Theory,” A Companion to Digital Art, 167)
“The communication system describes the model of the (linguistic) sign connection between a sender and a receiver (expedient and percipient) over a communication channel that is vulnerable to noise. So that a connection in the sense of an understanding that is capable of conventionalization comes to pass, the sign repertories of the sender and the receiver must to a certain extent, therefore, correspond. Before insertion of the signs provided by the sender (expedient) into the communication channel, they must be transformed or coded appropriately, that is, in a fitting manner transformed or coded into the transport capabilities of the channel in order to be again retranslated or decoded before being picked up by the receiver.” (Max Bense, “Small Abstract Aesthetics,” A Companion to Digital Art, 252)
“It is necessary at this stage to attempt a distinction between signal and sign, which is as relevant to the communicative as to the creative process. We speak of signal when the exclusively physical substratum of a connection is meant. Sound as an acoustical and color as an optical phenomenon belong, for example, to this. However, we speak of a sign when intellectual cognition declares such as substratum (1) to be a medium that (20 signifies an object and (3) for a certain interpretation therby endows it with meaning.” (Max Bense, “Small Abstract Aesthetics,” A Companion to Digital Art, 253)
- Media as critical aspect of communication, especially semantic communication
- Need to use the correct media to match the bandwidth and other characteristics of the desired message. This freedom of selection requires some degree of postmediality?
- Medium specificity is important for the transmission of message and meaning.
- New media do not replace old media, but build upon them.
- No form of media stands on its own, always operating in coordination with others.
- Definition of media becoming less clearly defined, in some cases specifying a technology while in others specifying a particular use of that technology.
- All media are physical, it is only our perception of digital technologies which has difficulty with physicality at the level of the modern transistor or electron.
“…the digital era and the phenomenon of digitization itself can be understood as demarcating a shift in the correlation of two crucial terms: media and body. Simply put, as media lose their material specificity, the body takes on a more prominent function as a selective processor of information.” (Hansen, New Philosophy, 22)
“This means that with the flexibility brought by digitization, there occurs a displacement of the framing function of medial interfaces back onto the body from which they themselves originally sprang. It is this displacement that makes new media art “new.”” (Hansen, New Philosophy, 22)
“We are morphing so fast that our ability to invent new things outpaces the rate we can civilize them. These days it takes us a decade after a technology appears to develop a social consensus on what it means and what etiquette we need to tame it.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 3)
“My media diet may be though of as streams of pieces, some of which I consume as is, and most of which I engage in to some degree.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 82)
“New media are not just emergent; more importantly, they are everywhere—or at lesast that is part of their affect. Computers, databases, networks, and other digital technologies are seen to be foundational to contemporary notions of everything from cultural identity to war. Digital media seem to be everywhere, not only in the esoteric realms of computer animation but in the everydayness of the digital(e-mail mobile phones, the Internet)” (Galloway and Thacker, The Exploit, 10 cited in Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 28)
“In addition to its newness and its use of emergent technologies, new media art has an interdisciplinary nature. It works across art and technology and across all the associations of newness inherent in both fields.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 29)
“Furthermore, if new media art is continually making reference to popular culture, that might make it more understandable than a work, in whatever medium, which is understood only in relation to the history of art. Contemporary art is replete with strategies of appropriation—from other media as well as from other “cultures” outside art.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 31)
“…new media art engages any medium necessary for its realization. The overarching impression of new media is that it is deeply hybrid in approach, method, content, and form. This quality aligns new media art with our post-postmodern time or postmedium condition.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 34)
“Mark B. N. Hansen (2006) has cautioned against defining new media too specifically by its digital medium because doing so would be taking a page from the modernists and trying to seek out new media’s “essential” qualities, which is especially difficult considering that the digital is capable of simulating most other media.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 35)
“As Rudolf Frieling writes, in new media “form follows format,” and each format for media art has specific qualities—not just in shape and size, but in what is possible, what is determined by the code. The materiality of new media is variable and hybrid…”(Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 61)
“[Rosalind Krauss] suggests that looking at how mediums (the physical forms of the work) are continually reinvented is a way to explain the significance or value of the endlessly reproduced and distributed possibilities of technology-driven art forms such as video, which by their lack of a unique original have no “aura”—the traditional marker of the work of art. mark B. N. Hansen (20060) argues that the problem with adopting a postmedia approach is that all it does is distinguish physicality from convention, when in fact new media work’s behaviour is also fundamentally different, not just its form.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 62)
“In this, it would seem that no matter the form of the artwork, the medium never matters as much as the context.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 83)
“Art may come to constitute a form of mediation between human and post-human consciousness, just as, in past cultures, it has been used to mediate between mankind and the gods.” (Ascott, “Back to Nature II,” Telematic Embrace, 335)
“Considered as unknown knowledge, the aesthetic in general might simply be reduced to ideology, to the nature of the “unknown knowns,” those disavaowed knowleges and beliefs we pretend not to know even though they are the backbone of our everyday practices and behaviors, which leads again to Rodowicks call for liberation from the idea (and ideology) of the aesthetic. But pleasure and beauty, to echo Richard Dyer (1992), are too precious, too rare to surrender.” (Sean Cubitt, “Aesthetics of the Digital,” A Companion to Digital Art, 277)
1.4. Virtual Reality
- VR as a medium
- VR’s capacity to transmit large bandwidth and on multiple channels (senses)
- VR seeks to remediate all of human perception
- VR can be used to enhance and expand perception beyond its normal limits.
- VR is thus a window to the fuller extents of reality
- VR is not being used to its fullest potential, needs to be explored
- Current applications are equivalent of “playing radio over TV”
“…the vast majority of VR systems… work with an impoverished conception of experience as above all ( or excluisvely) visual. By endowing the user with VR goggles and helmet, VR systems deploy vision as the provilidged sense endowed with the task of mapping the human sensory apparatus onto new dataspaces…” (Hansen, New Philosophy, 162)
“…the novelty [of virtual reality] is not in the creation of virtual environments that are increasingly efficient in terms of their representation, but rather in the possibility of being able to “act virtually” in an artificial world.”(Philippe Fuchs and Pascal Guitton, “Introduction to virtual reality,” Virtual Reality: Concepts and Technologies, 3)
“Virtual Reality will help him to come out f the physical reality to virtually change time, place and (or) the type of interaction: interaction with an environment simulating the reality or interaction with an imaginary or symbolic world.” (Philippe Fuchs and Pascal Guitton, “Introduction to virtual reality,” Virtual Reality: Concepts and Technologies, 7)
The Gartner hype cycle – Technology Trigger > Peak of Inflated Expectations > Trough of Disillusionment > Slope of Enlightenment > Plateau of Acceptance (diagram in Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 24)
“The Theory of the Long Tail suggests that communication technologies such as the Internet enable the improvement of access to previously unavailable content and encourage user choice (“niche markets”): the user can choose from the whole catalog or database and not just what the centralized authoritative institution puts forth, the “hits,” or in the case of a museum, from within a linear narrative selection of the most important artworks in its collection. The Long Tail theory indicates that you don’t have to have a thousand people like something in order to legitimate its place in the system, and it recognizes that the system doesn’t have to be centralized, either. Put the hype cycle and the Long Tail together, and it can be argued that focusing on newness is not only technophilia, but also a potential strategy for legitimation and acceptance, something new media art has struggled with in terms of the centralized institutional structures within the art world, such as museums.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 25)
“Art has long been concerned not just with geographic space, but with abstract space—its creation and exhibition—and by extension with the question of materiality. For new media art, these concerns go even farther into the realms of the virtual. (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 6)
“While cyberspace per se is an exclusive realm, its production depends on the material space beyond its interfaces. Cyberspace is real estate in terms of data space on computer disks and in mainframes, personal space in seats in front of computer workstations, frequencies on the broadcast spectrum, satellite space off which to bounce signals, and room in the bandwidth of fiberoptic cables that global corporations struggle among themselves to own and control.” (Margaret Morse, Virtualities: Television, Media Art, and Cyberculture, cited in Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 63)
“A big debate within the history of new media art is about how virtual realities (virtual reality installations) might lead us to a state of disembodiment. In fact, this was how the field was perceived by other more, material, static arts, but the consensus within new media realms now is that this is not the case at all; as Hayles writes, “in fact, we are never disembodied… we can see hear, feel and interact with virtual worlds only because we are embodied” (1995,1). Morse further refines the point: “The very notion of immersion suggests a spiritual realm, an amniotic ocean, where one might be washed in symbols and emerge reborn. Virtual landscapes can also figure as liminal realms of transformation, outside of the world of social limits and constraints, like the cave or sweat lodge, if only by reason of their virutality—not entirely imaginery nor entirely real, animate but neither living nor dead, a subjective realm wherein events happen in effect, but not actually” (1998, 185, emphasis in original).” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 63) Citations from Hayles, “Embodied Virtuality: Or How to Put Bodies Back into the Picture.” 1; Morse, Virtualities: Television, Media Art, and Cyberculture, 85
“A [digital] object is composed of both the data that describes it and the code that will operate upon it. As such, every object has within it everything it needs to go about its business. If an object is to be drawn it will draw itself. It will contain its own code for how to do that; it will not need to refer to or be acted upon by an external program.” (Simon Bigs in Steve Dietz, “Beyond Interface: Net Art and Art on the Net,” cited in Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 64)
“In virtual reality projects, the equipment—for instance, a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE)—is not available everywhere and not easily transported. Therefore, the work is site specific by dint of its technological dependence” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 66)
“Works of art that deal specifically with this melding of virtual and physical space are that much harder to “frame’ for a viewer’s experience. So how does one present works of art whose primary characteristic is the simulation of another, not physically tangible reality?” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 79)
“Within these separate realities, the status of the “real in the phenomenology of the artwork also changes. Virtual space, virtual image, virtual reality—these are categories of experience that can be shared through telematic networks, allowing for movement through “cyberspace” and engagement with the virtual presence of others who are in their corporeal materiality at a distance, physically inaccessible or otherwise remote.” (Ascott, “Is There Love in the Telematic Embrace?,” Telematic Embrace, 243)
2. Social Context
2.1. The Institution and Cultures of Display: Gallery display experiences
- Art departing from the Institution
- New media such as VR can be made to fit the physical gallery space, but struggle with the baggage required by the gallery context.
- Art of this kind is trying to break free from these constraints of old, to blur the boundary between art and technology
- High art and popular art becoming more intertwined
“Curator Steve Dietz’s three categories for new media are interactivity, connectivity, and computability, which may be present in any combination. Interactivity is evident in Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Body Movies, where a computer program responds to participants’ shadows; connectivity is evident in Thomson & Craighead’s Light from Tomorrow, which transmits live signals around the world; computability is evident in artworks using algorithmic programming to make generative artworks, such as Cornelia Sollfrank’s Net Art Generator.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 6)
|New Media Terminology||Art History Terminology||Description|
|Computable||Variable||the production of the work; materiality and form|
|Connected||Distributed||the placement of the work; accessibility|
|Interactive||Collaborative||the audience engagement with the work|
(Sarah Cook, “The Search for a Third Way of Curating New Media Art: Balancing Content and Context in and out of the Institution” cited in Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 9)
“Because new media artists are so well placed to co-opt the usual means of distribution of ideas within popular culture, they are more firmly outside the usual “institutional” modes of legitimating their activity as art. Yet an essential condition of art’s creation—whether avant-garde, postmodern, or postmedium— is it’s relationship to exhibtion and hence to sites of exhibition, such as the museum. (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 37)
Following Dickie’s Institutional theory art is a largely self-certifying activity:
- “A work of art is an artifact of a kind created to be presented to an artworld public.”
- “A public is a set of persons the members of which are prepared in some degree to understand an object which is presented to them.”
- “The artworld is the totality of all artworld systems”
So “yes’ new media art *is* “art,” if we say it is. New media art is an “artworld system” in this definition, which to me is helpful, as we can understand it as one of many artworlds that make up a totality and not some orphan excluded from the “mainstream artworld.”
(Tom Corby, “Re:Art,” cited in Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 47)
“Anther way of looking at the conceptual artworks in which participation was the end goal, such as the Lewis piece described earlier, is to consider that when the work is immaterial or the process of making and consuming it has resulted in its dematerialization, then what is left is an aesthetic of its transmission or communication—in other words, an aesthetic of distribution. What, if however, the context that is sought to define the work is the (seemingly immaterial) network or system itself?” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 60)
“The conventional gallery is conceived for the time span of looking at an object rather than at anything based on time—so much so that Clive Gillman has argued that once video is in a gallery, it can cease to behave as a time-based medium.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 100)
“The Medialounge in the Huddersfield Media Centre was an unusual approach to the duration of new media art. Sited physically in the lobby of a mixed-use building and metaphorically in the wider debate about whether a lounge is a suitable home for new media art, the lounge was “not a gallery and… not a visitor attraction,” according to Matt Locke (2001a). The three small areas were designed specifically for people who may have different amounts of time:…” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 103)
Zone 1 = passive; Zone 2 = 10-15 minute zone; Zone 3, active, sit-down 30 minutes. The further in you go, the further you are engaged. (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 103)
“All art is, in some sense, didactic: every artist is, in some way, setting out to instruct,… For, by instruction, we mean to give direction, and that is precisely what all great art does… Through [the] culture it informs, art becomes a force for change in society” (Ascott, “The Construction of Change,” Telematic Embrace, 98)
“…[W]e can do without an art that reinforces ideologies of repression and conservation rather than bringing into the world new metaphors to enhance life. It’s a bit like the institutionalisation of religion: as its power and relevance decline, we can see that, historically on alance, probably more bad than good has been done in its name.” (Ascott, “Telenoia,” Telematic Embrace, 257)
“There is no doubt that this is a critical period for art. The confusions and contradictions of postmodernism alone attest to the reactionary and arid banality of much contemporary production.” (Ascott, “Back to Nature,” Telematic Embrace, 257)
“Art: While traditionally focused on the apperance of things and their representation, art is now concerned with processes of interaction, transformation, and emergence.” (Ascott, “Technoetic Aesthetics,” Telematic Embrace, 375)
“If one takes an analytic rather than continental view of philosophical aesthetics, there are many theories of what art is. In approximate historical order these include:
- Art as representation;
- Art as expression;
- Art as form;
- Art as experience;
- Art as open concept and family resemblance (neo-Wittgensteinianism);
- Art as institution;
- Art as historical definition”
(Philip Galanter, “Generative Art Theory,” A Companion to Digital Art, 147)
Definition of Generative Art:
“Generative art refers to any art practice in which the artist cedes control to a system with functional autonomy that contributes to, or results in, a completed work of art. Systems may include natural language instructions, biological or chemical processes, computer programs, machines, self-organizing materials, mathematical operations, and other procedural inventions.” (Galanter “What is Complexism? Generative Art and the Cultures of Science and the Humanities,” cited in Philip Galanter, “Generative Art Theory,” A Companion to Digital Art, 154)
- Participation gives the audience a new way to connect with the piece and enhances the potential for immersion and better communication
- Participatory works must be designed as such – cannot expect to have the same results as the professional artist would have on their own, and don’t desire these results
- Artist may act more as curator, technologist, facilitator in true participatory works
- Participatory works require simple, effective, enforceable rules… but only to the extent which the artist desires control.
|Repressive Use of Media||Emancipatory Use of Media|
|Centrally controlled program||decentralized program|
|One transmitter, many receivers||Each receiver a potential transmitter|
|Immobilization of isolated individuals||Mobilization of the masses|
|Passive consumer behavior||Interaction of those involved, feedback|
|Depoliticization||A political learning process|
|Production by specialists||Collective production|
|Control by property owners or bureaucracy||Social control by self-organization|
(Miranda Zuniga, “The Works of Artists in a Databased Society: Net.Art as Online Activism,” 9 cited in Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 112)
“Participation: “to have a share in or take part in.” Participation implies that the participant can have some kind of input that is recorded. In common language, “more interactive” can actually mean “participative”—that is , not just getting reactions, but also changing the artwork’s content. There is a range of levels of participation… artistic participation can mean just showing up (or logging in) or having real creative input.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 113)
Institutional anxieties around participative artwork tends to center on two issues concerning distance: first control over the quality of the participants’ contributions when anybody might be submitting from anywhere, and second, the immateriality of online work.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 122)
“If the audience is asked to participate by contributing creative input, then Josephine Bosma rightly asks: “How did we get to this point? After all, surely the audience did not turn into cultural producers and art collaborators overnight” (2006,25)” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 128 quote from Bosma, “Art as Experience: Meet the Active Audience,” 25)
“Lozano-Hemmer’s solution is to make works that are intended to be enhanced best by group interaction; many people can interact with the artwork at a time, and the artwork encourages interaction between people.” (Graham and Cook, Rethinking Curating, 130)
“To project my ideas, I set limits within which he may behave. In response to behavioural clues in a construction (to push, pull, slide back, open, peg in, for example), the participant becomes responsible for the extension of the artwork’s meaning.He becomes a decisionmaker in the symbolic world that confronts him.” (Ascott, “The Construction of Change,” Telematic Embrace, 97)
- Cornelia Parker
- Janet Cardiff
- Fischli and Weiss
- Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
- Rebecca Fiebrink
- Melissa Mongiat and Mouana Andraos
- Golan Levin
- Refik Anadol
- Kelli Anderson
- Black Shoals (Joshua Portway and Lise Autogena)
- Roy Ascott
- Bill Vorn
- Carsten Nicolai
- Alberto Seveso
- Lindsay D. Grace
- Edward Titchener
- Ryoici Kurokawa
- Festivals/conferences as nodes for sharing ideas, growing culture
- Need for regular opportunities to share and be inspired
- Ars Electronica
- Nuit Blanche
2.4. Maker Culture
- Maker culture is at the heart of technological application
- Everyone from hobbyists to professionals involved
- Eliminating the hierarchy between the producer and consumer as consumers become producers
“There has never been a better day in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside than now. Right now, this minute.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 27)
2.5. Open Source & Accessible APIs
- The reliance of any work on others. No artist, author etc. stands alone, we must recognize that authorship is always shared.
- Traditional copyright therefore no longer makes sense
- Open source encourages collaboration and growth, a new form of “friendly competition” to replace the stagnant trade secrecy of old
- Access to platforms which package and facilitate the use of complex systems is essential. Due to the complexity of modern technology, nothing can be built from scratch anymore.
- Benefit to allowing open development rather than “pay to play” because more people produce more interesting, novel results.
“Free is good, but these [uncopyable values] are better since you’ll pay for them. I call these qualities “generatives.” A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated at the time of the transaction. A generative thing cannot be copied, cloned, stored, and warehoused. A generative cannot be faked or replicated. It is generated uniquely, for that particular exchange, in real time. Generative qualities add value to free copies and therefore are something that can be sold.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 68)
Generatives: Immediacy, Personalization, Interpretation, Authenticity, Accessibility, Embodiment, Patronage, Discoverability (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 68-73)
“These eight qualities require a new skill set for creators. Success no longer derives from mastering distribution. Distribution is nearly automatic; it’s all streams. THe Great Copy Machine in the Sky takes care of that. The technical skills of copy protection are no longer useful because you can’t stop copying… Success in this new realm requires mastering the new liquidity.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 73)
“Value has shifted away from a copy toward the many ways to recall, annotate,personalize, edit, authenticate, display, mark, transfer, and engage a work. What counts is how well the work flows.” (Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 74)
“…[A]rt itself becomes, not a discrete set of entities, but rather a web of relationships between ideas and images in constant flux, to which no single authorship is attributable, and whose meanings depend on the active participation of whoever enters the network…”(Ascott, “Art and Telematics,” Telematic Embrace, 199)
“The digital is not clean, nor is it a clean concept. Defining the digital is as messy as the digital itself. As N. Katherine Hayles argues, we do not know how it works: programs as banal as Microsoft Word can be large, complex, and either undocumented, or written by automated processes so that “no living person undertands the programs in their totality” nor ever could understand them (Hayles 2008, 26). The digital materializes in a wealth of forms: electricity, light, punched tape, radio signals.” (Sean Cubitt, “Aesthetics of the Digital,” A Companion to Digital Art, 267) quote from Hayles, “Traumas of Code,” 26
3. Technical Context
3.1. Extended Reality
3.2. Augmented Virtuality
- Using real objects to enhance the virtual environment
- Improving immersion in the virtual environment makes the user more likely to engage and for longer periods of time
- This concept is essential to the long term success of virtual reality
- Does not presuppose the visual as more important than the other senses.
3.2. Feeling is Believing
- The power of touch in immersing the user in the experience.
“Virtual Reality has as its interface the total body, and new communications costumes and tele-wear will be required for lounging by the datapool: leisurewear inspired by cyberpunk street fashion.” (Ascott, “Telenoia,” Telematic Embrace, 270)
4. Description of Works
5.Analysis of Work
6.1. Future Work
- Context (computer scientists, artists, makers, etc. in relation to what I’m building)
- Future direction
- Each piece and how it fits into the contemporary and historical context.
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