Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness

Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness

Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness

Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness


"A vital addition to the literature on art of the later twentieth century, in which Roy Ascott has played central roles as a major pioneer of interactive, telematic art and as an innovative educator. Ascott's visionary philosophy, grounded in science and technology as well as metaphysical thought, has profound implications for the digital era. Edward Shanken is the ideal guide through this material, and his lucid and insightful introductory essay will become the standard source on Ascott's work and the larger history of telematic art."--Linda Dalrymple Henderson, David Bruton, Jr., Centennial Professor in Art History and Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas, Austin

"Roy Ascott has unerringly been a step ahead of the cultural shifts of his times. If cybernetics, interactivity, network culture, and telematics have an artistic edge today, it is because Ascott has been there first. This collection, edited and with a brilliant introduction by Edward Shanken, charts the evolution of Ascott's ideas, pedagogy, and artmaking, which continue to be a potent source of ideas for the future of art."--Roger Malina, Executive Editor of "Leonardo

"An admirable survey of the telematic arts and of Roy Ascott's extraordinary contributions to this art form. Thoroughly researched, this readable text is a valuable resource for initiating students into the realm of contemporary electronic arts and sciences by bridging the gap between the visual and media arts."--Peter d'Agostino, Professor of Film and Media Arts and Director of the NewTechLab, Temple University

"Roy Ascott is a leading artist and writer in the field of art and technology, and a collection of his writings is long overdue.Edward Shanken's introduction addresses many issues relevant to contemporary culture, elucidating historical, social, and theoretical aspects of Ascott's work."--Eduardo Kac, Associate Professor of Art and Technology, Schoo


While the creative process demands acts of synthesis that defy verbal description and that only the work of art itself can define, there are some aspects of artistic activity that can be examined and set down rationally. They are both empirical and analytical and involve forays into unfamiliar conceptual territories. Very often scientific ideas can reinforce or extend what is uncovered. To discuss what one is doing rather than the artwork that results, to attempt to unravel the loops of creative activity, is, in many ways, a behavioural problem. the fusion of art, science, and personality is involved. It leads to a consideration of our total relationship to a work of art, in which physical moves may lead to conceptual moves, in which behaviour relates to idea.

Art, for me, is largely a matter of freely developing ideas and creating forms and structures that embody them. Whatever ideas I may pursue — and in art, the entire universe is open to investigation and reconstruction — behaviour is an important reference in my considerations of space, time, and form. I make structures in which the relationships of parts are not fixed and may be changed by the intervention of the spectator. As formal relationships are altered, so the ideas they stand for are extended. I am conscious of the spectator's role. Once positioned in relation to a work, he may become totally involved — physically as well as intellectually or emotionally. 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. My Change Paint

Originally published in Cambridge Opinion, January 1964.

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