Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age

By Margot Lovejoy | Go to book overview

Foreword

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

-xiii-

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Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Sources 11
  • 1 - Vision, Representation, and Invention 13
  • 2 - The Machine Age and Modernism 36
  • 3 - The Electronic Era and Postmodernism 62
  • Part Two - Media 91
  • 4 - Video as Time, Space, Motion 93
  • 5 - Art in the Age of Digital Simulation 152
  • 6 - Art as Interactive Communications: Networking Global Culture 220
  • 7 - Transaesthetics 270
  • Glossary 316
  • Select Bibliography 323
  • Index 333
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