Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age

Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age

Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age

Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age

Synopsis

Digital Currents explores the growing impact of digital technologies on aesthetic experience and examines the major changes taking place in the role of the artist as social communicator.Margot Lovejoy recounts the early histories of electronic media for art making - video, computer, the internet - in the new edition of this richly illustrated book. She provides a context for the works of major artists in each media, describes their projects, and discusses the issues and theoretical implications of each to create a foundation for understanding this developing field. Digital Currents fills a major gap in our understanding of the relationship between art and technology, and the exciting new cultural conditions we are experiencing. It will be ideal reading for students taking courses in digital art, and also for anyone seeking to understand these new creative forms.

Excerpt

Because innovation is continuous, it is difficult to establish precise boundaries between historical periods. Which painting or building signals the beginning of the Renaissance? Which work of the imagination or of scientific discovery signals its end? Answers to such questions are bound to seem arbitrary. Surely a historical period is not just the temporal site of certain artifacts and discrete intellectual events. We give names such as "medieval" and "Renaissance" and "modern" to stretches of time that appear to be unified by characteristic beliefs and procedures-or, what is more to the point of Margot Lovejoy's Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age, periods disrupted by characteristic conflicts.

No society can prevent discord in the relations between individuals and institutions. We know from our own experience and historical memory that those relations have often been difficult, even violent, in modern times. Politics attained modernity in the American and French revolutions. The burst of scientific and technological development in the late eighteenth century is called the Industrial Revolution, a phrase that evokes riot and new poverty, as well as abundant goods and new wealth. Nonetheless, we are sometimes tempted to assume that modern conflict differs from earlier varieties only in degree, not in kind. This assumption leads to the comforting reflection that certain other periods may have been even more violent than ours. Perhaps they were. But the relations between selves and institutions during the past two centuries have inflicted on ordinary life a new kind, not simply a new degree, of harshness.

The modern period began when technological change speeded up to the point where succeeding generations could no longer feel certain that they lived in the same world. As Lovejoy's Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age documents in vivid detail, modern technology disrupts the history of experience; it changes not only the landscape but the way that landscape is seen. It shapes perception and induces a new kind of uneasiness, the distrust we feel toward tools and convenience that we would be reluctant to do without -devices that have, after all, done much to define what we are. But why should the familiar things of our world-automobiles, television sets, computers-be such frequent targets of

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