Archive for the ‘media aesthetics’ Category


Aesthetics and Mechanics

January 31, 2013

The more I follow this little spur of the digital humanities railroad called game studies, the more I find myself sympathizing–and even collaborating–with art historians. Chris Solarski helps me understand why.

Video games rely on the very same design principles — perspective, form, value, etc. — which classical artists employed to create the illusion that the television (or canvas) is a window into an imagined world. These design techniques also serve a second purpose equally applicable to game design, which is their aesthetic value, and application in visual narratives.

I’ve a bone to pick with Solarski’s notion that games’ interactivity is unique, but I’m increasingly aware that games do configure their interactivity uniquely–even my beloved parallel to homeric epic relies on an analogy of configuration that applies centrally to the bard and much less to his audience, who could never sing the tales the bard sings. The barrier of entry to game-performances is much, much lower, and Solarski’s piece may help us describe the available performances more thickly.


Multi-modal creativity

October 18, 2012

Everyone knows these days it’s tough to keep up with all technical innovation – there’s always a new code, a new program, a new cloud. As someone attending her first THATcamp (yup, newbie), I am humbled and fascinated by all these possibilities (the-kid-in-a-candy-store simile comes to mind). I do try to keep up with digital arts, though (media aesthetics again, Roger), and the Playground Digital Arts festival always presents some intruiguing work. Do check out older works, too, such as probe, a piece that challenges your notion of cinematic experiences, as Boris Debackere explains:

probe is a metaphor of cinema: cinema as a space shuttle, or a probe you enter and you are completely separated from the external world. Suddenly, the huge screen you have in front of you disappears and becomes a sort of window to travel in time and space. And you sit in this vehicle, but the whole trip takes place in your brain: you concentrate with your mind with the screen that becomes invisible and everything that is projected on the screen puts your mind and imagination into action. The setting of the film is in your brain, not on the screen: it is part of the same dynamics of cinema, which stimulate your brain, the mechanism of your perceptive abilities.”

Are we soon going to perform as our own projection screens? Or have we been there all along?


Barthes and networks, not to speak of hypertext…

September 19, 2012

One of the fun things about writing a blog is that you get to look at Roger’s (and many others’) blog entries and just follow your proverbial nose. You click on one link, then on another, and then go back or keep going and just lose yourself in the maze or network or meanderings of the blogosphere. Happily, searchingly, intrigued and on occasion enchanted or provoked. And you realize how much stuff there is that makes your brain stay awake way beyond its bed time. And you keep going…

Of course Barthes designed Wikipedia (just like Marcel Duchamp is still alive, but that’s my own private joke). Barthes envisioned it in S/Z, as George Landow (who really should know) reminds us:

the networks [réseaux ] are many and interact, without any one of them being able to surpass the rest; this text is a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can reach, they are indeterminable . . . ; the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language” (emphasis in original; 5-6 [English translation]; 11-12 [French]).

But then, how far back do we want to take that connection between text and network? Which text ISN’T a network? Florian Cramer, for instance, begins his blog entry with Borges and ends with creativity. Then again, Cramer’s work becomes much more interesting if we rephrase the question: how deep do we want that connection to go? You may find one answer in his intriguing Words Made Flesh – not a blog entry. And he has yet entirely different ideas about Wikipedia.


Mimesis is dead, long live Mimesis (via Aisthesis)

September 12, 2012

The discussion on the “new aesthetic”, as it is referred to in the blogs cited by Roger below, is biting off a tad much: ontology, remediation, aesthetics (as in Kant on beauty), post-humanism, phenomenology, and the Dasein of pixels – to list a few of the terms thrown about. Why not add some Husserlian Lebenswelt and a Nietzschean “transvaluation of all values” to address the reversal of perspectives from human to post-human, between things and things? If so, I want to just close up my airbook and go to sleep. What’s the point?

“Bogost also claims that the New Aesthetic is about the ‘relationship between humans and computers’ and he argues that instead it should be concerned with ontology, in this case the object-oriented relationships between lots of different kinds of objects. For now we will put aside the slippage between ‘computers’ and what are clearly representations for, or of, the ‘digital’ (see Berry 2012a, 2012b) and the fact that many of these New Aesthetic objects may have been created as artworks without the mediation of digital technology at all.”

Thank you. Let’s not put it aside. If mimesis is representation (and not limited to imitation), and what is represented is the perceived world, then we should be talking about aisthesis within the context of media aesthetics – a well-established field (Zettl 2013, Munster 2011, a series at Continuum) on creation and perception in the (digital) arts. Not sure how all of the above fits into that – and whether post-human and material studies (lots of things…) necessarily applies. Do judge for yourselves: check out the upcoming ISEA conference on MACHINE WILDERNESS or, if Albuquerque is not exactly around the corner, the current exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art, Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration. And if you are yearning for some post-human engagement, Vilém Flusser’s Vampyrotheutis Infernalis just appeared in English translation – pixelate that.