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The Arts

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Long before the invention of musical notation, and long before that of the phonograph, the written word was unrivaled as a medium of the human voice. In The Ancient Phonograph, Shane Butler searches for traces of voices before Edison, reconstructing a series of ancient soundscapes from Aristotle to Augustine. Here the real voices of tragic actors, ambitious orators, and singing emperors blend with the imagined voices of lovesick nymphs, tormented heroes, and angry gods.

Writings and Interviews, 1964-2004

Jack Burnham is one of the few critics and theorists alive today who can claim to have radically altered the way we think about works of art. Burnham’s use of the term “system” (borrowed from theoretical biology) in his 1968 essay “System Aesthetics” announced the relational character of conceptual art and newer research-based projects. Trained as an art historian, Burnham was also a sculptor. His first book, Beyond Modern Sculpture (1968), established him as a leading commentator on art and technology.

Edited by Rachel Churner

For five decades, the artist Hans Haacke (b. 1936) has created works that explore the social, political, and economic underpinnings of the production of art. His works make plain the hidden and not-so-hidden agendas of those—from Cartier to David Koch—who support art in the service of industry; they expose such inconvenient social and economic truths as the real estate holdings of Manhattan slumlords, and the attempts to whitewash support for the Nazi regime, apartheid, or the war on terror through museum donations.

The Little Screens

Lee Friedlander’s The Little Screens first appeared as a 1963 photo-essay in Harper’s Bazaar, with commentary by Walker Evans. Six untitled photographs show television screens broadcasting eerily glowing images of faces and figures into unoccupied rooms in homes and motels across America. As distinctive a portrait of an era as Robert Frank’s The Americans, The Little Screens grew in number and was not brought together in its entirety until a 2001 exhibition at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco.

Art after New Media

As curator Steve Dietz has observed, new media art is like contemporary art—but different. New media art involves interactivity, networks, and computation and is often about process rather than objects. New media artworks are difficult to classify according to the traditional art museum categories determined by medium, geography, and chronology and present the curator with novel challenges involving interpretation, exhibition, and dissemination. This book views these challenges as opportunities to rethink curatorial practice.

The Art of Pierre Huyghe

Over the past two decades, French artist Pierre Huyghe has produced an extraordinary body of work in constant dialogue with temporality. Investigating the possibility of a hypothetical mode of timekeeping—“parallel presents”—Huyghe has researched the architecture of the incomplete, directed a puppet opera, founded a temporary school, established a pirate television station, staged celebrations, scripted scenarios, and journeyed to Antarctica in search of a mythological penguin.

A History of Computer Animation

Computer graphics (or CG) has changed the way we experience the art of moving images. Computer graphics is the difference between Steamboat Willie and Buzz Lightyear, between ping pong and PONG. It began in 1963 when an MIT graduate student named Ivan Sutherland created Sketchpad, the first true computer animation program. Sutherland noted: “Since motion can be put into Sketchpad drawings, it might be exciting to try making cartoons.” This book, the first full-length history of CG, shows us how Sutherland’s seemingly offhand idea grew into a multibillion dollar industry.

Art and Conflict in the 21st Century
Edited by Peter Weibel

Today political protest often takes the form of spontaneous, noninstitutional, mass action. Mass protests during the Arab Spring showed that established systems of power—in that case, the reciprocal support among Arab dictators and Western democracies—can be interrupted, at least for a short moment in history. These new activist movements often use online media to spread their message. Mass demonstrations from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Taksim Square in Istanbul show the power of networked communication to fuel “performative democracy”—at the center of which stands the global citizen.

An Alternative Space for Art

During the 1960s and 1970s, magazines became an important new site of artistic practice, functioning as an alternative exhibition space for the dematerialized practices of conceptual art. Artists created works expressly for these mass-produced, hand-editioned pages, using the ephemerality and the materiality of the magazine to challenge the conventions of both artistic medium and gallery.

Since the 1960s, artworks that involve the participation of the spectator have received extensive scholarly attention. Yet interactive artworks using digital media still present a challenge for academic art history. In this book, Katja Kwastek argues that the particular aesthetic experience enabled by these new media works can open up new perspectives for our understanding of art and media alike.

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