Definition Of New Media Art
What is New Media Art? It is classified as any artwork which is created through a technological medium.
It is a wide field with many potential applications. Any potential student that is seeking to further their education within this field should look at SCAD.
What Art Mediums Apply To New Media Art?
Commonly accepted mediums are related to art and how it impacts the senses in some way. This is typically through either sight or sound.
Digital applications can be applied to music, painting, drawing, woodworking, sculpting, and even virtual reality. The possibilities are limitless.
New Media Art is the fastest growing field within the arts and is a driving force within the economy of technology.
This art form does present challenges to the traditional ways in which art is perceived, curated, and documented. There are times where the art cannot be displayed on walls or stands.
The philosophy of this art is ever emerging and changing as time moves forward and we adapt to these new methods..
Often more elaborate works are created for the sake of commercial profit through products by corporations. This is a major shift from history that can begin to impact the classification of what art is.
New Media Art Has An Older History
When we think of New Media Art it is easy to consider the past twenty to thirty years as its point of origin and birth. This is actually not the case.
Networking and advancements in computers have obviously made what we call digital art easier to produce and become popular.
Despite this, its birth can be traced back to the 1800’s. The first documented form of this art comes from two men who almost simultaneously created the same art in 1832.
We know this creation as the Phenakisticope.
A Belgian named Joseph Plateau and an Austrian named Simon Stampfer each had their version at the same time. The creation was a device which allowed continuous motion for the worlds first experience with animation.
The animation would use a continuous loop to give the appearance of motion.
This work was groundbreaking in their time. It was the early beginnings of what would become motion pictures.
Today we can use a cell phone and post a gif to any message thinking nothing about it. Yet the creation by these two men would be similar to an 1800’s gif.
The people of the 1800’s could not know the world would soon change. Concepts such as graphic art would go from communication to large scale productions in their own right.
The stage was being set for a digital renaissance in art.
New Media Art In The 1900’s
The early 1900’s saw leaps forward in New Media art with experimentation using kinetic and light art. This would progress with other experimentation including televisions through the 1960’s.
Special effects for movies took leaps forward with movies such as Star Wars.
Alternatively Walt Disney gave birth to what we know today as the field of Concept Art. This is still a driving force within our present digital age.
While New Media Art had its infancy in a world which predated computers it would forever change with the invention of a digital processor. In a new age which would come, arguments would rise as to whether or not these new abilities should be classified as art or not.
In September of 1977 Atari released its first gaming console. The art used in the game was nothing we would be impressed by today.
Yet at that time the ability to control objects on a screen launched a new form of media and entertainment that would capture the world.
It was 1989 CGI was first used by Disney. Few know that the rainbow at the end of the Little Mermaid was the first test by Disney using CGI.
Later movies would slowly begin to incorporate more of this new kind of animation.
In 1990 Rescuers Down Under by Disney was produced using the CAPS system. It was the first movie to be produced without using a camera.
Leaps forward were made in a mere 9 years. In 1999 Stuart Little by Columbia Pictures was a step forward in combining CGI and live pictures into a movie.
New Media Art From 2000 And Forward
In the early 2000’s further exponential leaps forward were made in New Media Art. MMO gaming which had its infancy in the 90s became popularized.
Final Fantasy 11 Online became the first popular global mmo game in 2002. It gained its popularity not by title alone but also by being cross platform which previous competitors did not incorporate.
Soon cell phones would shift from being 2G to 4G, and push button to smart phones. Downloading content and media in all forms was a tap away.
Software technology which first could only be afforded by the movie industry could now be had by a common person.
With these advances came an age of art that cannot be rivaled by any other period of history. The volume and complexity of this art alone within the past ten years is unthinkable.
Whether this art is individual in nature or by industry for entertainment, no other age has seen this kind of growth in art.
The Future Of New Media Art
The future of New Media Art is definitely bright. I has become so mainstream that low cost online art courses now tailor continued education for artist to advance in this area.
Present applications are exploring aspects of augmented reality rather than pictures on a screen.
It may take a while before reaching a world like “Memories of the Alhambra” portrayed. Yet this is the direction we are moving.
Further advancement is terrifying for many when it comes to some aspects. When this new art is being integrated with artificial intelligence and robotics concern enters the picture.
Yet this is the new reality within which we live and it is unavoidable.
The potential of New Media Art is limitless when one realizes all that it touches. It has made great strides within many forms of kinetic art.
The industry is not only strong but among the fastest growing in the world. For new artists seeking to chart their path there is no doubt that this is a serious possibility to consider as a career.
Education Must Change To Incorporate New Media Art
University education must change in order to better meet the needs for this future. Traditional arts education does not fully encompass the requirements for those who seek to push forward with New Media Art.
It is unfortunate for many who seek to become artists are left without a clear picture of the world around them.
At present for a student to gain the greatest competitive edge, degrees in various computer technology fields better relate and prepare them.
This creates a disconnect when one is seeking a path within art and its application whether individually or within industry.
Much of the problems which surround this issue stem from how the arts and design world have historically been seen.
Technology itself has often been classified more as a science rather than being incorporated with elements of art. The future will require integration of different fields in order to arrive at where industry will take us.
Problems And Conflict
There is always conflict surrounding anything new. Its mere classification and historical documentation creates conflict much less the direction it is moving.
This can be seen within New Media Art presently.
There are those who wish to preserve the early history of New Media Art and there is nothing wrong with this. I love history.
Yet at the same time some do not accept the direction of where this art has gone nor where it is going.
The reasons for rejecting this direction range from the inability to properly classify, capture and document, then display the work.
It is an old art world mindset with its rules by definition that is running into a new world where they do not strictly apply. This creates issues.
Preservation societies work to maintain the fragile past of New Media Art but the lines blur at where to stop. From the 1960’s to the 1980’s alone show a mere 20 years with explosive growth in the field.
Ten years beyond this and it can become almost impossible to capture.
Move another 10 years and we have reached a point in time where it is impossible for historians to quantify this art.
The reaction to this has been to toss the advancements from art into computer technology fields near abandoning the art aspects behind them.
This is an error and will only serve to leave those who hold to traditional arts alone to become museum pieces themselves. They will eventually be left behind to history. While traditional arts will always have their place, it is not the driving force of the future.
Traditional Arts Vs Mew Media Art
From a personal perspective I have had to cross this bridge myself. I am a wood artist and yes I can hand carve wood.
Yet not all my work is hand carved. Industry alone will not allow me to stay within the traditional world.
It is interesting though that people will ask for and want completely hand carved work. They simply are not often willing to pay for it.
Here is where a serious disconnect in reality takes place. You cannot have traditional work at cheap bargain bin store prices.
Industry plays a role with technology. What people are willing to pay ultimately drives that economy.
In my work cnc application was a must to bring into the picture in order to make my work more affordable. Indeed I still do a lot of hand working to every piece.
It is not totally nor completely machined.
Thus I am stuck between these two worlds just like many traditional artists. Likewise museums, galleries, and the curators which run them are in this same boat.
How far do we go before art is no longer art? How much should an artist do compared to allowing technology to do everything?
Make no mistake I love what New Media brings with it. Yet at the same time I live within the problems it creates.
The path is not as clear cut as many would like to believe. The solutions will not come easily for artists of the future.
When Is New Media Art No Longer Art?
For many in the real world who are artists, or make a living with art, general guidelines are accepted. When something is fully machined with technology it is no longer art.
This holds true when producing a physical composed piece.
Guilds that remain today can have different requirements. Some require that 100% of the work must be hand produced.
This alone is laughable for what woodworker does not use an electric saw? It is still a machine. Nevertheless I continue…
Other guilds allow for a certain amount of technology to enter the picture. Much will depend on whether the presentation of the works is of a historical nature or for the sake of art itself.
Here you gain a small window into the difficulty New Media Art can present for institutions. Wood Art is no where near as complex.
Galleries face this same problem. They depend on physical works to display. The problem which came with Covid presented a unique challenge in the inability to physically display work for people.
Many realized that a virtual gallery online was needed and thus expanded their footprint to accommodate for this.
Yet with works that are purely digital in nature there is no way to capture or physically display them.
No museum can hold them and historically catalog them. These hurdles will be challenging if not impossible to overcome by physical storefront institutions.
When does art stops being art but rather a product is the real issue at hand. What is the purpose or intent behind the work?
While art can be used within a broader piece such as a movie it was not created for the purpose of the work itself.
The same can be said for those in my community. Makers who produce thousands of signs, cutting boards, or other products do not create art. They create products.
This does not stop them from claiming that they are wood artists when they are not.
Definition To Purpose Is Everything
The age old argument of what art is, and also what the purpose of art has matters. How we define art is where the argument lay.
Institutionally that definition while vague in words, is very regimented by concept. The argument itself can become a contradiction.
New Media Art is without a doubt challenging this traditional definition within art. The reality is also that in order for institutions to survive they will have no choice but to compromise.
Industry and where the money flows will require this.
There is a danger in accepting a definition which is too broad. It endangers the skills of artists who have invested their time, money, and life to their work.
It endangers the future of these skills to being lost to history.
However this definition comes to be redefined as we move forward it will not be an easy transition. I hope that traditional arts will continue to retain their integrity as we go forward. I do believe that there is a need for this even if for the sake of culture alone.