I have now attended a number of the International Symposia on the
Electronic Arts (since FISEA in Holland over 8 years ago). A number of
comments come to mind after attending ISEA in Rotterdam last week.
a) The term "electronic art" is beginning to loose all meaning since it
does not group together related art making. From web-based work and
CD-ROM work (where the technology is all but invisible) to interactive
work that accentuates the technical interface, there is a broad range of
artistic tendencies. This is a victory of sorts, but as the professional
community moves on, there is a need for clearer thinking. The term
"electronic art" will not prove to be a lasting category.
Where computer graphics was a dominant medium in 1988, computer graphics
as such is now marginalized at ISEA - indeed the decision of Ars
Electronica to drop the computer graphics category from their
competition (replaced with interative arts and web-based arts)
underlines the evolution.
b) In 1988, there was much discussion/concern about the "ghetto" of the
electronic arts. Now in 1996, the mainstream museums and art
institutions are well along in incorporating electronic art forms as
part of their programming. It is not so much that the art world embraced
the electronic arts, but rather that the "ghetto" is now big enough that
"acceptance" by the art world is much less of an issue than it was. This
year the strong programming by the V2 group in Rotterdam highlighted the
development of strong arts groups internationally in the electronic
arts. It is also a fact that there are now younger artists emerging in
large numbers from the computer art programs of the various universities
and art schools. This year in Rotterdam there was the full range from
pioneers such as Frieder Nake, or Whitney Jr (indeed Stelarc) - to the
young students and emerging artists. The art world has not been
convinced of the interest of the electronic arts, rather they are being
infiltrated by the electronic artists.
c) The stated goal of ISEA to bring together the visual arts, the sound
and music, the text/literary arts and the performing arts is still
largely an unrealised dream. The institutional context still builds
disciplinary walls between the visual, sound, text and performing arts -
in future years ISEA needs to work hard to provide a context of real
fusion between media.