New media art

January 13, 2015 — January 13, 2015

computers are awful
generative art
making things
My working definition
Art made using any medium \(X\) such that in most art schools, the Department of \(X\) is less than 50 years old.
Alternative definition:

Anything that science fiction of the 1930s to 1980s hypothesized we’d be doing In The Future, and we finally got around to doing it.


Stuff that looks suspiciously like video games, perhaps because it is video games.

See generative art for my personal favourite strand thereof.

For an alternative perspective, let me excerpt Near Future Laboratory’s criteria for new media art (from 2008), who claim the indicators of new media art are that:

  • It doesn’t work

  • Your audience “interacts” by clapping/hooting/ making bird calls/flapping their arms like a duck or waving their arms wildly while standing in front of a wall onto which is projected squiggly lines

  • Your audience asks amongst themselves, “how does it work?”

  • It’s just like using your own normal, human, perfectly good eyeballs, only the resolution sucks and the colors are really lousy…

  • Someone in your audience wearing a Crumpler bag, slinging a fancy digital SLR and/or standing with their arms folded smugly says, “Yeah, yeah, I could’ve done that too… c’mon dude… some Perlin Noise? And Processing/Ruby-on-Rails/AJAX/ Blue LEDs/MaxMSP/An Infrared Camera/Lots of Free Time/etc? Pfft… It’s so easy…”

  • Someone in your audience, maybe the same guy with the Crumpler bag and digital SLR excitedly says, “Oh, dude. That should totally be a Facebook app!”

  • It’s called a “project” and not a “piece of art”

  • Your audience cups their hands over various protruberances/orifices at or nearby your project attempting to confuse/interact with the camera/sensor/laser beam, even if it uses no such technology

  • There are instructions on how to experience the damn thing

1 Degentrified: Dirty New Media

Regine Debatty interview: Jon Satrom, conversation with a bug maker and tamer:

I like mobilizing the term “Dirty New Media” because there’s a self-awareness to it. It seems like—at the turn of the century—the term “New” Media began to gentrify the various networked-neighbourhoods of:, software art and other dynamic cybercultures. Areas of digital expression/dissent/engagement that I found to be super inspiring and exciting were crystalizing and becoming codified. A “Dirty” New Media starts with the fact that, by using media in the first place (old && new), we are already compromised by the systems/conventions/resolutions of the media. Tagging these genres as simply “New” places one in an uncritical masturbatory state of expectation for the “next”. […]

Groups like PaperRad and Beige were using the term “dirt style” to describe cultural and technical dumpster-diving—which gently poked at issues of obsolescence, pop-trends and nostalgia. […] Dirty New Media recognizes that the entire system is unstable. It’s raw, honest, and celebrates the rough-edges, the raw bits, the exposed wires and glitches inherent to the systems that rule major aspects of our lives.