This text has been written for the proceedings of the international conference "New Perspectives, New Technologies", organized by the Doctoral School Ca' Foscari - IUAV in Arts History and held in Venice and Pordenone, Italy in October 2011
The "portal" designed by Antenna Design to show net based art in the exhibition "Art Entertainment Network", Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2000. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
In the late nineties and during the first decade of this century the term “new media art” became the established label for that broad range of artistic practices that includes works that are created, or in some way deal with, new media technologies. Providing a more detailed definition here would inevitably mean addressing topics beyond the scope of this paper, that I discussed extensively in my book Media, New Media, Postmedia (Quaranta 2010). By way of introduction to the issues discussed in this paper, we can summarize the main argument put forward in the book: that this label, and the practices it applies to, developed mostly in an enclosed social context, sometimes called the “new media art niche”, but that would be better described as an art world in its own right, with its own institutions, professionals, discussion platforms, audience, and economic model, and its own idea of what art is and should be; and that only in recent years has the practice managed to break out of this world, and get presented on the wider platform of contemporary art.
It was at this point in time, and mainly thanks to curators who were actively involved in the presentation of new media art in the contemporary art arena, that the debate about “curating new media (art)” took shape. This debate was triggered by the pioneering work of curators – from Steve Dietz to Jon Ippolito, Benjamin Weil and Christiane Paul – who at the turn of the millennium curated seminal new media art exhibitions for contemporary art museums; and it was – and still is –nurtured by CRUMB - “Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss” - a platform and mailing list founded by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook in 2000 within the School of Arts, Design, Media and Culture at the University of Sunderland, UK. As early as 2001, CRUMB organized the first ever meeting of new media curators in the UK as part of BALTIC's pre-opening program – a seminar on Curating New Media held in May 2001.
In the context of this paper, our main reference texts will be CRUMB-related publications, from the proceedings of “Curating New Media” (2001) to Rethinking Curating. Art After New Media (2010), a recent book by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook; and New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, a book edited by Christiane Paul in 2008. Instead of addressing the specific issues and curatorial models discussed in these publications, we will try to focus on the very foundations of “curating new media”, exploring questions like: does new media art require a specific curatorial model? Does this curatorial model follow the way artists working with new media currently present themselves on the contemporary art platform? How much could “new media art” benefit from a non-specialized approach? Are we curating “new media” or curating “art”? ...
The following excerpt comes from the final chapter of my book Media, New Media, Postmedia, recently published in Italian by Postmediabooks, who kindly gave Rhizome permission to republish it in English. The book is an attempt to analyze the current positioning of so-called “New Media Art” in the wider field of contemporary arts, and to explore the historical, sociological and conceptual reasons for its marginal position and under-recognition in recent art history.
The Fabio Paris Art Gallery presents
Eva and Franco Mattes (0100101110101101.ORG)
January 20 - March 3, 2007
OPENING: Saturday, January 20, 6 pm
Fabio Paris Art Gallery, Brescia, Italy
Show curated and catalogue edited by Domenico Quaranta
On occasion of their second solo exhibition at Fabio Paris Art Gallery,
and for the first time in Italy, EVA AND FRANCO MATTES
(0100101110101101.ORG) are to exhibit the project for which they have
been awarded the Premio New York 2006.
For over a year Eva and Franco Mattes lived in the virtual world of
Second Life, exploring its terrain and interacting with its peculiar
inhabitants. The result of this "video game flanerie" is a series of
portraits characterized by the bright colors, artificial lighting,
polygonal shapes and surreal perspectives typical of virtual worlds.
Overall, the series draws on the technological developments which allow
the creation of alternate identities within simulated worlds.
"LOL" carries on the work that began with "13 Most Beautiful Avatars",
an exhibition project that involved the physical space of the Italian
Academy in New York and the virtual space of Ars Virtua Gallery (curated
by Rhizome.org), and is set to continue in February with the Mattes’
second solo exhibition at Postmasters Gallery in New York.
"LOL" features five portraits and a triptych, all dedicated to female
avatars. The title of the show is an expression much used by the online
community to express amusement or jollity ("Laugh Out Loud" or "Lots Of
Laughs") or as a closing greeting ("Lots Of Love"). The fact that the
Mattes duo refuse to explain the meaning of this ready-made of web
communications leaves it open for interpretation: an artificial language
for artificial life forms? A touch of sarcasm towards attempts to
interpret a work that should be assessed primarily from the aesthetic
point of view? Or rather the revelation that behind the display of
apparent high spirits virtual worlds conceal a profound sense of
anxiety, an underlying tragedy that at times emerges from these
dazzlingly beautiful faces?
On occasion of the exhibition the gallery is to publish the book
"Portraits", which explores all the stages of this work.
Fabioparisartgallery - http://www.fabioparisartgallery.com
Eva e Franco Mattes (a.k.a 0100101110101101.ORG) - http://www.0100101110101101.org/
Domenico Quaranta - http://www.domenicoquaranta.net/english.html
Contact: Domenico Quaranta
mob. +39 340 2392478 - email. email@example.com
Pescara Electronic Artists Meeting 2k6
6 - 10 December 2006
Pescara, Ecoteca, Via Caboto 19
The fourth edition of the Pescara Electronic Artists Meeting, amongst the most important events concerning contemporary electronic/digital based arts, will take place from the 6th to the 10th of December. Organized by the Artificialia network, the P.E.A.M. is conceived to be an international meeting and confrontation point for those artists, intellectuals, experts, and others who work in an electronic context or make use of electronics as a basic means of expression. This edition will showcase a large and refined selection of visual artists, performers, musicians amongst the most innovative of the field. The leit-motiv of the whole event will be "the Diamond", an attempt to gather artists and experts coming from as many disciplines as possible (sculpture, dance, theater, literature, music, visual arts, etc.), all with a marked high-tech approach, and to extraordinarily have them converge to the stimulating location of Ecoteca, in Pescara.
Therefore, the idea is to let many intellectuals (critics and curators) converge and present one (inimitable) or two (dichotomy) artists in a single place (the diamond), and, as a consequence, the whole Peam2006 edition will be centered onto unicity and dichotomy - such as war and peace, big and small, good and bad, love and hate, cleverness and stupidity, beauty and ugliness, close and far away, fear and comfort, real and virtual, and so on - and onto their sense of existence. In other words, the meaning itself of the concept of opposites, defining different representations of an unique symbolic system, will be put to a test, artistically.
Press Conference: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 11.30 AM, Sala dei Marmi, Provincia di Pescara, Piazza Italia 30 - Pescara
In this context, curator and critic *Domenico Quaranta* (www.domenicoquaranta.com/english.html) will introduce the work of Gazira Babeli and Damiano Colacito, two artists who, in pretty different ways, declare the reality of our experience of virtual worlds.
Born in Second Life on 31st March 2006, *Gazira Babeli* (http://www.gazirababeli.com/) is an artist who turns the performativity of the code into performance itself. Weedy and flexuous in her long black dress which covers fashionably her polygonal haunches, Gazira radiates a strange charm that makes her somebody in between a Voodoo witch and an X-men heroine. Her charm that becomes even more evident during her masterful performances, in which she activates scripts as if they were spells, makes earthquakes happens, provokes natural fatalities and invasions of pop icons (in the place of the biblical locusts). Gazira Babeli is NOT the project of an artist who works in Second Life. She IS an artist, who makes, records and signs performances based on code. She is real, like you and me, even if her action platform is a world of bits.
Born in Atri (TE) in 1973, *Damiano Colacito* (http://www.videoludica.com/news.php?newsC4) focuses his work on the basic elements of the contemporary media landscape and the complex relationship between the virtual and the real. In the last few years he devoted himself to the creation of wooden sculptures that portray objects coming from the FPS, such as med-kits, power-ups, weapons, and etc. The Scotchprint skins he puts on the sculptures allows the author to work on details so to obtain a pretty refined reproduction of the texture of those virtual objects, and the use of sound effects, every now and then, makes the realism of the reproduction even finer. As a Pino Pascali of the Doom generation, Colacito creates conceptual sculptures that result to be amazing for both the gamer and the people who don't play videogames: the former comes across familiar objects in the wrong context,while the second has to deal with unfamiliar objects seemingly coming from another world and culture. Somehow, Colacito orchestrates a kind of mental teletransport, and materializes the insubstantial nature of the electric energy.
More infos, critical text (in italian) and press images:
Rough version of an interview with Mark Tribe & Reena Jana, authors of
NEW MEDIA ART (Taschen, Koln 2006). A shorter version has been published
in “Flash Art Italia”, Issue 260, October - November 2006, p. 73.
Domenico Quaranta: Even from an editorial point of view, your book
describes new media art as a movement (such as Surrealism or
Conceptualism) rather than a mere possibility of the medium. This is a
very interesting point. Do you believe in it or is this a marketing
strategy? Is new media art the last avant-garde, and why?
Mark Tribe: Before we discuss New Media art as a movement, we describe
it more generically in terms of "projects that make use of emerging
media technologies and are concerned with the cultural, political, and
aesthetic possibilities of these tools." I think this is more-or-less
what you mean by "a possibility of the medium." We go on to write, "New
Media art is not defined by the technologies discussed here; on the
contrary, by deploying these technologies for critical or experimental
purposes, New Media artists redefine them as art media."
We then talk about New Media art as an art movement because, from our
perspective, that is an important aspect of the historical context that
has been largely ignored. In order to understand the work that was made
by people who called themselves "New Media artists" and thought of what
they made as "New Media art," it is crucial to consider the historical
specificity of that term (it's relation to the corporate New Media
industry, the Dot com boom and bust cycle, etc.), as well as the place
of New Media art practices within a broader art-historical framework. I
believe strongly in the value of this kind of contextual reading, as
opposed to a more formalist approach that considers the intrinsic
qualities of the work in isolation. Your question about the avant-garde
actually raises a similar issue: like New Media art, avant-garde can be
defined generically as any cultural practice that pushes beyond the
limits established norms through innovation and experimentation. But
avant-garde can also be defined with historical specificity as a set of
movements, such as Dada and Constructivism, that linked experimental
cultural practices with radical social and political change. But, to
answer your question directly, I do think that New Media art was one of
the few historically significant art movements of the late 20th century.
There were a lot of other historically significant practices, but none
of them galvanized as movements per se. The defining characteristics of
art movements, in my view, are: self-definition (the artists tend to use
a common term, or set of competing terms, to name their practice); the
existence of dedicated organizations, venues, publications, and
discourse networks; and a common set of artistic strategies and
concerns. Often one finds the last of these without the first two, as
was the case with identity-focused work in the early 90s. I do think
that New Media art could be described, generically, as avant-garde.
Reena Jana: Mark very eloquently described the parameters of our
definition of New Media as a movement.
Our point is that during the 1990s, with the dawn of the Internet's
popular rise as a mass-market communication medium coupled with the
increasing presence of PCs among households, a specific art movement
started to take shape that both used these tools as primary artistic
media to comment on the effect of these media on society and culture.
This movement entailed self-organization and definition on the part of
the artists involved on chat rooms, on artist-run Web sites, in gallery
exhibitions and at institutions devoted to the movement.
We seek to document this phenomenon, and to point out that New Media art
is a specific term that refers to a particular historical moment. Our
goal is to offer more than simplistic clumping of all work using digital
media with a blanket term such as "digital art."
New Media artists were not simply experimenting with digital editing to
make their video art easier to produce or creating online animations of
their paintings (two examples of practices that often were described as
"digital art" in the late 1990s and conflated with New Media art).
Instead, New Media artists use emerging mass-communications tools to
comment on the social, cultural, and philosophical effects that such
And yes, in my view, New Media art as it evolved from 1994-2004 can be
understood as "avant-garde." As for New Media art's description as
"avant-garde," I think it's key to see an antecedent in the Dadaist and
Surrealist points of view that avant-garde art strives for using
inventive artistic techniques to jar audiences and affect their
understanding and experience of life. New Media art also can be
described as generically "avant-garde," by definition—consider the term
and the artists' imaginative use of emerging mass-media and distribution
channels involved to comment on the larger "new media" as a dominant
cultural force and influence in the 1990s.
DQ: Why do you focus on the Nineties, seemingly forgetting the
Telecommunication art of the Seventies and the Computer art of the Eighties?
MT: We discuss Video art in the "Art-historical Antecedents" section of
the introduction. We had to cut a paragraph or two on transmission art
of Paik, Douglas Davis, et al due to space constraints (the length of
the introduction was pre-defined by the publisher to conform with the
series). We left out '80s Computer art (AKA Multimedia art, Electronic
Intermedia, etc.) because we felt that it was not, in fact, a
significant precursor. Although Computer art and New Media art, to the
extent that they can be distinguished from each other, shared a similar
set of enabling technologies, and many old-school Computer artists from
the Siggraph/Leonardo/ISEA scene joined the New Media art bandwagon in
the '90s, the two are crucially and fundamentally different in their
relationship to media culture. Of course I'm generalizing broadly here,
and there are lots of exceptions, but most Computer art was not as
concerned with media culture as it was with information technologies and
their cultural applications, whereas New Media art almost always takes a
critical position in relation to media culture and media technologies.
RJ: Our focus is not on media art (i.e., video or other
telecommunication art) or early experiments with computer, electronic,
or biological material and themes, but instead on New Media art. For
clarity, we place New Media art within the continuum of media art and
computer-based art. Please refer to page 7: "We locate New Media art as
a subset of two broader categories: Art and Technology and Media art..."
New Media is also its own category.
DQ: What kind of criteria did you follow in the selection?
MT: From page 7 of the English version: "We chose to... focus on works
that are particularly influential, that exemplify an important domain of
New Media art practice and that display an exceptional degree of
conceptual sophistication, technological innovation, or social
relevance." Beyond that, we considered geographic diversity and
generally selected work that we personally like. Unfortunately, do to
the limitations of the series, we had to leave out a lot of work that we
very much wanted to include.
RJ: In addition, I think it's important to circle back to the definition
of New Media art that Mark mentioned in his first answer. We looked for
"projects that make use of emerging media technologies and are concerned
with the cultural, political, and aesthetic possibilities of [new media]
tools." As for "selecting work that we personally like," such a
criterion reflects basic editorial (and, for that matter, curatorial)
practice. We spent many hours debating back and forth what the final
list would be - an intellectually challenging - and rewarding - process
that we feel resulted in a balanced selection of forms, themes, styles,
geographical representation, gender, and technologies that reflects the
diversity and dynamism of the international movement of New Media art.
Please note that our introduction includes many examples of other
important works that we had nominated for inclusion in the main entries,
which is historically relevant, or was influential. Because the book is
meant to be a brief introduction to New Media art, we were required to
present a concise list of main entries that illustrate the scope of the
DQ: A book like this is a strange event for media art practitioners: it
is cheap, small, captivating and easy to read. Media art gets out of the
ghetto and goes mainstream. Don't be shy: do you think “New Media Art”
is going to change something in the history of new media art?
MT: New Media art started to emerge from the ghetto and swim in the
mainstream several years ago, but I get your point. We tried to write
the book in such a way that it would be both accessible to
non-specialists and useful to our peers. I like the fact that the book
has so many large images of the art work and that Taschen does such a
beautiful job with printing and design. I do hope that the book helps
broaden the audience for New Media art and generate more support for New
Media artists and organizations.
RJ: Yes, the price-point, portability, and accessible-yet-informed tone
are indeed intended to broaden the audience of New Media art, although
certainly New Media art is quickly gaining attention in mainstream
outlets (for example, one artist in the book, Cory Arcangel, was named
best emerging artist of 2005 by Mark Stevens, New York magazine's
critic/co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning de Kooning biography).
At the same time, we hope to offer a fresh thesis within the
ever-growing field of new-media studies. In 2006, it is possible to now
look back and offer historical context for both of these audiences, the
non-specialists and specialists. Our aim is to suggest a focused lens
through which students, art-historians, artists, curators, collectors,
and the general gallery and museum visitor alike can look at New Media art.
October 7, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GAMESCENES: THE BOOK
M. Bittanti, D. Quaranta (editors), GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames, Milan, Johan & Levi 2006. Hardcover, 454 pages, 25 x 25 cm, 200+ hi-res illustrations, available from October 2006.
GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames is the first volume entirely dedicated to Game Art. Edited by Matteo Bittanti and Domenico Quaranta, GameScenes provides a detailed overview of the emerging field of Game Art, examining the complex interaction and intersection of art and videogames.
Video and computer game technologies have opened up new possibilities for artistic creation, distribution, and appreciation. In addition to projects that might conventionally be described as Internet Art, Digital Art or New Media Art, there is now a wide spectrum of work by practitioners that crosses the boundaries between various disciplines and practices. The common denominator is that all these practitioners use digital games as their tools or source of inspiration to make art. They are called Game Artists.
GameScenes explores the rapidly expanding world of Game Art in the works of over 30 international artists. Included are several milestones in this field, as well as some lesser known works. In addition to the editors' critical texts, the book contains contributions from a variety of international scholars that illustrate, explain, and contextualize the various artifacts.
ARTISTS: AES+F, Cory Arcangel, Aram Bartholl, Dave Beck, Tobias Bernstrup, Nick Bertke, John Paul Bichard, Marco Cadioli, Mauro Ceolin, Brody Condon, Joseph DeLappe, Delire (Julian Oliver), Todd Deutsch, Micah Ganske, Beate Geissler
"IN\_RETE" Miniartextil 2006
New Media Art Curator
Como, October 7th - November 12th, 2006
Chiesa di San Francesco & other venues
Arte&Arte is pleased to announce in\_rete (in\_the\_net), the XVI edition of the International Exhibition of Contemporary Textile Art Miniartextil. The exhibition will take place in various public and private venues in Como (Italy), and will run from the 7th of September through the 12th of November 2006.
This year, the exhibition will focus on the connections - both metaphorical and literal - between two worlds and two media: the fabric and the Net. In order to suggest these connections, the main venue of the exhibition - the fascinating church of San Francesco in Como - will host five new media installations, from both Italian and American artists: Relations (2004), a generative software by Italian Alessandro Capozzo; Exuvia (2006), mixed media innstallation by Alessandro Capozzo and Katia Noppes; Quixote (2004 - 2006), a moblog living performance by Italian artists Gianni Corino and Lorenzo Verna; Screening Circle (2006), the interactive installation of an online work by the American artist Andy Deck, a 2006 commission of the Whitney Artport and the Tate Online; Knitoscope Testimonies (2006) by Cat Mazza, a series of videos produced with a software that translates digital video into a knitted animation; and the Infome Imager Lite Workshop (2005), an installation featuring a Web Visualization Software by the American artist Lisa Jevbratt.
As the New Media Art section curator Domenico Quaranta wrote: “There are many associations between digital media and the world of textiles, dating right back to the advent of the computer and gradually firming up over time. Such links can be observed not only in terms of how computers work and the structure of binary code, but also in a series of metaphors, concepts and forms: the net, the web, weaving pixels, pattern, texture, etc.
New Media Art, which works with the social, political and cultural consequences of the media it utilises, is well aware of these links, and this awareness emerges both in its aesthetics, and in the operative techniques implemented. In particular, all Net Art (namely art which comes into being on the web and for the web, and uses the web as its tool of choice, and also its main theme) is by definition a textile art, as it plays a part in enriching the fabric of cyberspace and creating networks, building and activating communities. In other words, net art is the art of weaving the web, which grants it an enormous potential, enabling it not only to comment on the media it utilises but also to contribute to its life, its creation and its history.”
Alessandro Capozzo (IT), Relations, 2004, http://www.abstract-codex.net/relations/index.html
Alessandro Capozzo & Katia Noppes (IT), Exuvia, 2006, http://www.abstract-codex.net/exuvia/index.html
Gianni Corino & Lorenzo Verna (IT), Quixote, 2004 - 2006, http://www.quixote.it/
Andy Deck (USA), Screening Circle, 2006, http://artcontext.net/act/05/screeningCircle/
Cat Mazza (USA), Knitoscope Testimonies, 2006, http://www.turbulence.org/Works/microRevolt/
Lisa Jevbratt (USA), Infome Imager, 2002 - 2005, http://jevbratt.com/infome\_imager/lite
HI-RES IMAGES & CATALOGUE TEXT:
Miniartextil - http://www.miniartextil.it/
Domenico Quaranta - http://www.domenicoquaranta.net/
ARTE&ARTE Associazione Culturale
Via Pannilani 23 - 22100 Como
Tel & Fax 031.305621