Tutorial: Block 1, Week 8

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment

This week, finishing the group critique (‘group crit’) and talk of ‘elusive taxonomies’.

Group Crit

The group crit continues from last week with only Katerina left to request a crit.


Katerina asked for for a crit of ORGANIZING PROJECT IDEAS on her blog, plus sketches #1 (digital) sketches #2 and (digital) sketches #3 that were based on those ideas.

Her posts explore solipsism.

Drawings were photographed and edited in Photoshop (paper removal). Digtial ones done in photoshop using various brushes. The post-processing of the drawings was a nice touch, and I really like the watercolor feel and the monochromatic approach in the digital drawings.

Katerina plans to execute the figures in 3D, so there was an exchange about what program to use (cinema4D, sketchUP, etc.) As I haven’t worked in 3D I couldn’t really add anything to the discussion.

One idea that was raised was bringing the work into video. As Patrick so rightly put it:

video might br more elegant, 3d stuff can get clunky

Jonathan referred to the psychogeography and specifically the writer Iain Sinclair, and last week BBC World Service broadcast a programme that included Iain Sinclair and also Sherry Turkle who is another fascinating writer:

The Forum: Boundaries which looks at some of the new barriers springing up in the real and digital worlds.

Elusive Taxonomies

A taxonomy is a category, a way to organize, to better understand. But when talking about art in a digital environment, the categories are elusive.

Everybody was asked what they thought ‘new media art’ was. Everybody has different ideas, and the definition seems to change over time, e.g. computer art in the 1970s, digital art in the 1990s, etc.

In Digital Art by Christane Paul she doesn’t like the term ‘digital art’, preferring ‘new media art’ but the publisher (Thames & Hudson) had used that title for another book, so she had to use her non-preferred term.

Art in a digital environment is hard to pin down, taxonomy-wise, so Embrace the ambiguity!

In New Media in Late 20th Century Art by Michael Rush, he says:

there is no β€˜ism’ associated with digital art

All those ‘isms’ in 20th Century Art were one movement reaction to its predecessor, but is the digital environment one that is not simply a reaction to what has gone before but a huge shift in human history and therefore creates whole new ways of making work?

AMODA (Austin Museum of Digital Art 2006) defines digital art as art that uses digital technology in any of three ways:

  • as the product
  • as the process
  • as the subject

In Digital Art Christane Paul issues a warning over categories:

they can also be dangerous in setting up predefined limits for approaching and understanding an art form, particularly when it is still constantly evolving, as is the case with digital art.

and she talks about elusive taxonomies as art that engages with, interacts with, uses: - computability - process oriented, time based, dynamic - networked, real-time, telematic - interactive, participatory, collaborative - non-linear, performative - modular, variable, generative, customisable

Those quotes were from the second edition. I wonder if things have changed in the recent third edition.

Possible Reading

New Media in the White Cube and Beyond β€” Curatorial Models for Digital Art, edited Christiane Paul, 2008

New Media in Art, Michael Rush, 2005 (originally New Media in Late 20th Century Art, 1999)

Rethinking Curating β€” Art after New Media, Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook 2010


Some reading:

And the paper referenced the blog post:

Next week…

More on ‘elusive taxonomies.’

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