Z I N E n
new media






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a journal of new media experimental visual literary theory practice


Ted Warnell


Features, reviews, papers

Zn 98/10/02: From a recent interview for a new media arts and theory publication, here are some thoughts about the art of new media.

Copyright © 1998 by Ted Warnell and Zn. All rights reserved.


1998 OCT 2

The Art of New Media

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   ...discovering/creating the human dimensions...
      - Christy
   ...the fullness and force of our humanity...
      - X

We are all of us seeking to create/discover our selves in cyberspace.

plentiful content
without substance

One need not look far into the new media to see we have plentiful content without substance. That is, the Web is filled with page after page of great design, good copy, competent code, interesting ideas, useful information... but where is presence? Where is the fullness and force of our humanity?

The substance of self -- our presence -- is missing.

Over the course of our evolution as human beings we have learned to interpret many subtle cues and clues in our human interactions. These important indicators, many of which apparently operate on a subconscious level, tell us much about each other, our situation, the truth -- more so than anything we might claim in conscious conversation -- our actions always speak louder than our voice.

A problem in cyberspace is that these indicators are or are nearly non-existent. It is difficult or impossible for us to read one another correctly. We are left with only claims.

Consequently, we see on the Web millions of nice pages, but get little or no sense of real, human presence. The pages are there, they function, but they don't move us in a meaningful way, a way we know and trust. This is an impediment to commerce on the Web, for example.

It is an impediment for us all -- the richness and promise of the Web is reduced to a single dimension of claims without presence, content without substance, limiting our ability to fully engage our human dimensions and diminishing our enjoyment of the overall experience.

The shine on new media wears off quickly as expectations of wonderful adventures in the cyberstream turn out to be flat, high tech experiences without a corresponding high touch, and we are disappointed.

hunters and gatherers
of human dimensions

Where to now? Who will step forward to bring humanity into the new media?

Look to the hunters and gatherers of human dimensions from time immemorial -- creative visionaries, artists, and poets whose task it was and is to imagine, and to bring human expression and meaning to the media of their day.

New media visionary Scott Kurnit foresaw in 1996 a need to give a human face and presence to his new Web-based information network, The Mining Company, and thus, 'live Guides' and 'a people powered network' -- good ideas since picked up by other commercial concerns on the Web.

Even if these ideas seem to be so much PR (as most networks are people powered) it is significant still that Kurnit saw the need to make them central to his new venture, that he believed it important to be seen as a place of and for real, live human beings.

Contemporary artists Stelarc and Eduardo Kac explore a cyber/bio (cyborg) interface in their work while others like Tina LaPorta, Reiner Strasser, Piotr Szyhalski, Laurens van Rens, and many more from around the globe, investigate everything from notions of emotions to their spleens...

Add to these creative explorations by individual artists a growing number of conferences, exhibitions, and studies in new media art and theory by researchers, scientists, philosophers... and it is clear the subject of our presence in cyberspace is one of intense interest for many, and for many reasons.

   ...discovering/creating the human dimensions...
   ...the fullness and force of our humanity...

the art of new media
is a creative realization of human presence

We are all of us seeking to create/discover our selves in cyberspace.

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Agree... disagree...
or a different take on it all... your comments are welcomed!

Next week at Zn...
American minimalist artist and poet David Knoebel. David gives new meaning to the term information highway with a brilliant new work for both real and cyberspace. Get your motor running!
Would you like to see your work in Zn?




Copyright © 1998 Ted Warnell. All Rights Reserved