Writing a media art history

Barker, T. (2009) Writing a media art history. In: Writing Intersections Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 18-19 Nov 2009,

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Two books have recently been published, both named Media Art History, one edited by Peter Weibel and the other edited by Oliver Grau. It seems that, although these books approach media art through differing frameworks, both grapple with the same overarching question: How can media art and interaction be thought about or written about through an art history paradigm? This paper enters into this discussion by firstly investigates some of the problems associated with including media art and interaction in a discourse built upon ideas of static objects, aesthetic distance and subject/object distinctions. Secondly, it investigates the way in which the concepts that new media theorists invent as solutions to these problems may retrospectively change the way we think about art history and the history of reception. There is of course a strong history of interaction in art, its beginnings seen quite clearly in Kinetic Art and perhaps earlier in some manifestations of Dada. Although media art has its origins in these well-known forms, it has become significantly bifurcated from this type of aesthetic. The argument is that to draw upon the traditional modes of writing about art is to impoverish the interactive and temporal qualities of media art. In a sense we reduce the work of media art to fit into the pre-established tropes of an art history discourse. Instead, we need to write about media on its own terms, as a form that invents new concepts, and which, as a result, may inform the more traditional framework of art history.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barker, Professor Timothy
Authors: Barker, T.
Subjects:N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies

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