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observations and questions pp 3- 137

Three observations/questions on the characteristics of digital technology as a tool

One thing that fascinates me is the distinction made between art that uses digital technologies as a tool for the creation of traditional art objects such as photographs, prints, painting, sculpture, and music, and art that employs these technologies as its own medium.

I wonder if traditional arts and crafts will ultimately benefit and be enhanced by the utility of new media or if they will become threatened or extinct? I wonder if more labor-intensive crafts and techniques will become more valued or less valued in an increasingly rapid pace of new media and technology. And, if we value place a value on time and the concept of ‘labor intensity’ how does that transfer over in the new skills and techniques with the new media tools of hardware and software?

The history of the technology based in both the art world and science and technology intrigues me. I was excited to learn that so many examples of work referenced in the text Digital Art are available on YouTube in their entirety. I was impressed first hand with the possibilities provided through documentation and classification viewing the cited work of John Whitney (Catalog, 1961; Permutations, 1967; Arabesque, 1975), Charles Csuri (Hummingbird, 1967; Sinescape, 1967), Billy Kluver and EAT (Experiments in Art and Technology), and Liza Bear. I was very interested in learning more about the connections with OULIPO (Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle) and Dadist influences, as well as the influence of the ready-mades of Duchamp as a predecessor for the appropriated ‘virtual object’, and the work of Robert Rauschenberg. The ideas and innovations of Vannevar Bush (globally linked database and conceptualization of the world wide web and Wikipedia); Norbert Wiener (cybernetics), Theodor Nelson coining and conceptualizing ‘hypertext’ and ‘hypermedia’, Alan Kay and his team creating the Graphic User Interface (GUI) and desktop metaphor is truly amazing and astounding to me.

How did they come up with this stuff? Clearly some of these people were experimenting with mind-altering recreational drugs.

“Photography, film, and video have always entailed manipulation –for example, of time and place through montage—but in digital media, the potential for manipulation is always heightened to such a degree that the reality of ‘what is’ at any given point is constantly open to question.” p 27

The possibilities of time travel through documentation of human acquisition of knowledge through digital technologies and new media just blows my mind. The boundaries between what is real and imaginary are totally exploded in a certain sense. In seconds we can access data and information that past scholars spent lifetimes accumulating tediously and methodically, recording in notebooks in dusty libraries. My worry is that loss of actual physical place and the sensory experience and tactile nature that brings. Aesthetically and philosophically the world becomes a veritable tabula rasa of experience, creative discourse and applied whatever. Through the use of virtual reality the traditional boundaries of space and time become blurred and multiple worlds become possible. History is transformed, while past, present, and future become morphed together into a simultaneous abstract experience within a present yet disembodied self. Social networking tools such as Face book allow us to transcend traditional restrictions and boundaries separating our friends and families geographically. We are able to chat to each other in real time from expansive distances across time zones. It raises the old question from Fireside Theater’s album title “How can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?” Transcendance of traditional planes of space and time and of the physical body open the way for multiple new explorations of art through experience. Cognition, empathy, and all our senses are called into question and redefined with a new order.

Ephemeral nature

Increased opportunities emerge to preserve ideas and human knowledge through the collection, documentation and preservation of documents and accumulated images, texts, and sounds. One thing that worries me about the rapid change of technologies in software and hardware is the waste and lack of intentional recycling of materials. It seems that built in obsolescence must stop somewhere and we should be able to reuse materials that become outdated.

Digital technology tools: digital imaging, photography and print, sculpture: CAD (computer aided design) in models and digital animation.

Physical/virtual world

Body/mind paradox

(4) Japanese artist Toshio Iwai’s interactive audio-visual installation Piano-as image media (1995) is a virtual score used to trigger the keys of a piano which in turn induce the projection of computer-generated images on a screen. The score is “written” by the visitors who can position dots on a moving grid projected in front of the piano. This reminds me of a piece called “Scale” that I did in my multimedia senior project in 1978. But the difference in the approach and use of medium is profound. I cut color strips of paper in various ‘bars’ increasing and decreasing in size and the color spectrum and hues. I physically cut many strips on the paper cutter. It took hours. Then more hours were consumed when I used a copy camera to create each 35 mm slide. I created many, many slides manually and then choreographed a projection on a curved wall that used five slide projectors. My audio track was the basic piano scales that would be played by a beginning piano student which I recorded with an audio cassette player. These were overlapped and I danced or played the strips across the wall in both harmonic and non-harmonic fashion.

Digital technology medium: Forms of digital art, Installation, Film, video, animation, internet art and nomadic networks, Software art, virtual reality and augmented reality, sound and music.

Is there anywhere on campus where we could experience virtual reality technology? I know that they have been using it more to train surgery students. What are the possibilities here at the U? Are there any? When can we go?