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Digital Art and Meaning

Digital Art and Meaning: Reading Kinetic Poetry, Text Machines, Mapping Art, and Interactive Installations

Volume: 35
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Digital Art and Meaning
    Book Description:

    Digital Art and Meaning offers close readings of varied examples from genres of digital art, including kinetic concrete poetry, computer-generated text, interactive installation, mapping art, and information sculpture. Roberto Simanowski combines these illuminating explanations with a theoretical discussion employing art philosophy and history to achieve a deeper understanding of each example of digital art and of the genre as a whole.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7676-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Introduction CLOSE READING
    (pp. 1-26)

    With the increasing importance of digital media in all areas of social and cultural life, it is necessary to define a conceptual framework for understanding the social changes produced by digital media and to show students and readers how to interact critically with digital media and culture. Conferences and publications increasingly develop the theoretical background and the methods needed in scholarship and education to approach the new topics. At various universities, scholars are discussing the consequences of such developments under the umbrella terms of digital literacy, digital humanities, or “electracy.”¹ On the one hand, this body of scholarship is concerned...

    (pp. 27-57)

    There are many ways to misconceive digital literature. The most popular misconception is that all text appearing in digital media is digital literature. This is as meaningful as saying that a story read on the radio is a radio play. To avoid such misconceptions, it has been asserted that digital literature should be born digital. This stricture does not help much if it is understood as a requirement to create the text on or with a computer: A poem is a poem even if typed onto a keyboard and read on the screen—which of course does not deny the...

    (pp. 58-89)

    Relations between digital media and text so far have been ambivalent and in many respects disappointing. At first, computers and the Internet served as a petri dish for text. Although it was unpleasant to read text on the screen rather than on a page, it was encouraging to find that after the constant dimming of the Gutenberg Galaxy relative to modern media such as cinema and television the world’s newest medium operated with and displayed text. We now know that this was not the beginning of a lasting friendship but simply a function of immature technologies. As soon as hardware...

    (pp. 90-119)

    At the end of the 1980s, when people started to write about digital literature, they took their keywords and perspectives from the philosophers of the time, who intensively discussed death: the death of truth, the death of grand narratives, the death of identity, and the death of the author. Hypertext seemed to fit perfectly into this way of thinking. It was considered as democratizing and antiauthoritarian as those theories, for, with its system of links, it “[did] not permit a tyrannical, univocal voice” (Landow 1997, 36). As it turned out, the reference to poststructuralist and postmodern thought was based on...

    (pp. 120-157)

    Once upon a time, visual art was simple: it originated with an artist’s conception and craft, which the viewer acknowledged and then strove to understand while standing before the object. When paintings turned abstract, when found objects were glued to the canvas, and when urinals were brought into the museum, art changed. But it still observed the classic triad of artist, viewer, and art object: one viewed a static object on which an artist had bestowed meaning. A further change took place with the introduction of interactive art, which insisted that the viewer become some part of the work of...

    (pp. 158-186)

    Mapping art is the art in which the computer celebrates itself because this art is made manifest on the basis of the computer’s most significant feature: once digitized, once represented to the machine, all phenomena lose their bodies and live as numerical code that can easily be materialized in different forms. In this sense, the computer is a relative to money, the classical machine of intermedial translation between different objects on grounds of their abstract numerical value. The fact that this technology makes this kind of art so easy makes it easier for us to be suspicious of this art....

    (pp. 187-207)

    Producing a collage of text taken from real-life communication is now a common praxis in experimental literature and has been advocated as one of the essential features of, for example, a Dada poem. If these ready-made texts are presented on screens, one may still consider such collage as experimental literature. If they are taken from the Internet and are sufficiently extensive so as to form a message, one might consider these collage pieces as documentation of online conversation and thus a mirror of society. Such a mirror would be somewhat distorting, given that the text snippets are taken out of...

    (pp. 208-230)

    The last sentence of the last chapter is not intended to promote a shift of focus from hermeneutics to erotics. The discussion ofListening Posthas made clear that the erotics of the overall embrace of its different utterances can only be perceived once one has realized the differences those utterances signify. The erotics proposed does not replace hermeneutics but rather is based on it. This is different from the notion of erotics in the famous final line of Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Against Interpretation”: “In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art” (1966, 14). It is...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 231-258)
    (pp. 259-274)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 275-291)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 292-293)