Oliver Grau

Oliver Grau is Professor for Image Science and Dean of the Department for Cultural Studies at Danube University. He is the author of Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion (2003) and editor of MediaArtHistories (2007), both published by the MIT Press.

  • Imagery in the 21st Century

    Imagery in the 21st Century

    Oliver Grau

    Scholars from science, art, and humanities explore the meaning of our new image worlds and offer new strategies for visual analysis.

    We are surrounded by images as never before: on Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube; on thousands of television channels; in digital games and virtual worlds; in media art and science. Without new efforts to visualize complex ideas, structures, and systems, today's information explosion would be unmanageable. The digital image represents endless options for manipulation; images seem capable of changing interactively or even autonomously. This volume offers systematic and interdisciplinary reflections on these new image worlds and new analytical approaches to the visual.

    Imagery in the 21st Century examines this revolution in various fields, with researchers from the natural sciences and the humanities meeting to achieve a deeper understanding of the meaning and impact of the image in our time. The contributors explore and discuss new critical terms of multidisciplinary scope, from database economy to the dramaturgy of hypermedia, from visualizations in neuroscience to the image in bio art. They consider the power of the image in the development of human consciousness, pursue new definitions of visual phenomena, and examine new tools for image research and visual analysis.

    • Hardcover $45.00 £35.00
    • Paperback $35.00 £27.00
  • MediaArtHistories

    MediaArtHistories

    Oliver Grau

    Leading scholars take a wider view of new media, placing it in the context of art history and acknowledging the necessity of an interdisciplinary approach in new media art studies and practice.

    Digital art has become a major contemporary art form, but it has yet to achieve acceptance from mainstream cultural institutions; it is rarely collected, and seldom included in the study of art history or other academic disciplines. In MediaArtHistories, leading scholars seek to change this. They take a wider view of media art, placing it against the backdrop of art history. Their essays demonstrate that today's media art cannot be understood by technological details alone; it cannot be understood without its history, and it must be understood in proximity to other disciplines—film, cultural and media studies, computer science, philosophy, and sciences dealing with images.

    Contributors trace the evolution of digital art, from thirteenth-century Islamic mechanical devices and eighteenth-century phantasmagoria, magic lanterns, and other multimedia illusions, to Marcel Duchamp's inventions and 1960s kinetic and op art. They reexamine and redefine key media art theory terms—machine, media, exhibition—and consider the blurred dividing lines between art products and consumer products and between art images and science images. Finally, MediaArtHistories offers an approach for an interdisciplinary, expanded image science, which needs the "trained eye" of art history.

    Contributors Rudlof Arnheim, Andreas Broeckmann, Ron Burnett, Edmond Couchot, Sean Cubitt, Dieter Daniels, Felice Frankel, Oliver Grau, Erkki Huhtamo, Douglas Kahn, Ryszard W. Kluszczynski, Machiko Kusahara, Timothy Lenoir, Lev Manovich, W.J.T. Mitchell, Gunalan Nadarajan, Christiane Paul, Louise Poissant, Edward A. Shanken, Barbara Maria Stafford, and Peter Weibel

    • Hardcover $43.00 £29.95
    • Paperback $30.00 £24.00
  • Virtual Art

    Virtual Art

    From Illusion to Immersion

    Oliver Grau

    An overview of the art historical antecedents to virtual reality and the impact of virtual reality on contemporary conceptions of art.

    Although many people view virtual reality as a totally new phenomenon, it has its foundations in an unrecognized history of immersive images. Indeed, the search for illusionary visual space can be traced back to antiquity. In this book, Oliver Grau shows how virtual art fits into the art history of illusion and immersion. He describes the metamorphosis of the concepts of art and the image and relates those concepts to interactive art, interface design, agents, telepresence, and image evolution. Grau retells art history as media history, helping us to understand the phenomenon of virtual reality beyond the hype.

    Grau shows how each epoch used the technical means available to produce maximum illusion. He discusses frescoes such as those in the Villa dei Misteri in Pompeii and the gardens of the Villa Livia near Primaporta, Renaissance and Baroque illusion spaces, and panoramas, which were the most developed form of illusion achieved through traditional methods of painting and the mass image medium before film. Through a detailed analysis of perhaps the most important German panorama, Anton von Werner's 1883 The Battle of Sedan, Grau shows how immersion produced emotional responses. He traces immersive cinema through Cinerama, Sensorama, Expanded Cinema, 3-D, Omnimax and IMAX, and the head mounted display with its military origins. He also examines those characteristics of virtual reality that distinguish it from earlier forms of illusionary art.

    His analysis draws on the work of contemporary artists and groups ART+COM, Maurice Benayoun, Charlotte Davies, Monika Fleischmann, Ken Goldberg, Agnes Hegedues, Eduardo Kac, Knowbotic Research, Laurent Mignonneau, Michael Naimark, Simon Penny, Daniela Plewe, Paul Sermon, Jeffrey Shaw, Karl Sims, Christa Sommerer, and Wolfgang Strauss. Grau offers not just a history of illusionary space but also a theoretical framework for analyzing its phenomenologies, functions, and strategies throughout history and into the future.

    • Hardcover $11.75 £8.95
    • Paperback $33.95 £27.00