Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age

By Margot Lovejoy | Go to book overview

Introduction

Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power… We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.

Paul Valery 1

Living at the beginning of the twenty-first century in new conditions produced by the electronic era, artists confront a revised cultural and technological context. The purpose of this book is to examine the relationship between technological development and aesthetic change. It views the cultural crisis of the present postindustrial age by seeing it as parallel to the wrenching cultural, aesthetic, and social crisis brought about by the Industrial Revolution.

Fundamental to the understanding of the impact of technological media on society as a whole, as well as on perception and the fine arts, is the work of Walter Benjamin. 2 He brought into a key position in critical discourse awareness of the relationship between art and technology. He argued that widespread integrated changes in technological conditions can affect the collective consciousness and trigger important changes in cultural development. His essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1936) is a significant assessment of the pivotal role played by photographic technologies (first as catalyst, then as instrument for change) in twentieth-century art.

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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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