Thanks to advances in molecular science and microscopy, we can visualize matter on a nanoscale, and structures not visible to the naked eye can be visualized and characterized. The fact that technology allows us to transcend the limits of natural perception and see what was previously unseeable creates a new dimension of aesthetic experience and practice: molecular aesthetics. This book, drawing on an exhibit and symposium at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, documents aesthetic developments in what Félix Guattari called the “molecular revolution.”
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.
Today almost every aspect of life for which data exists can be rendered as a network. Financial data, social networks, biological ecologies: all are visualized in links and nodes, lines connecting dots. A network visualization of a corporate infrastructure could look remarkably similar to that of a terrorist organization. In An Aesthesia of Networks, Anna Munster argues that this uniformity has flattened our experience of networks as active and relational processes and assemblages.
Digital technologies offer the possibility of capturing, storing, and manipulating movement, abstracting it from the body and transforming it into numerical information. In Moving without a Body, Stamatia Portanova considers what really happens when the physicality of movement is translated into a numerical code by a technological system.
In this groundbreaking study, first published in 1983 and unavailable for over a decade, Linda Dalrymple Henderson demonstrates that two concepts of space beyond immediate perception—the curved spaces of non-Euclidean geometry and, most important, a higher, fourth dimension of space—were central to the development of modern art. The possibility of a spatial fourth dimension suggested that our world might be merely a shadow or section of a higher dimensional existence.
This book grew out of Yvonne Spielmann’s 2005–2006 and 2009 visits to Japan, where she explored the technological and aesthetic origins of Japanese new-media art--which was known for pioneering interactive and virtual media applications in the 1990s. Spielmann discovered an essential hybridity in Japan’s media culture: an internal hybridity, a mixture of digital-analog connections together with a non-Western development of modernity separate from but not immune to Western media aesthetics; and external hybridity, produced by the international, transcultural travel of aesthetic concepts.
Ubiquitous computing and our cultural life promise to become completely interwoven: technical currents feed into our screen culture of digital television, video, home computers, movies, and high-resolution advertising displays. Technology has become at once larger and smaller, mobile and ambient. In Throughout, leading writers on new media—including Jay David Bolter, Mark Hansen, N. Katherine Hayles, and Lev Manovich—take on the crucial challenges that ubiquitous and pervasive computing pose for cultural theory and criticism.
With Relationscapes, Erin Manning offers a new philosophy of movement challenging the idea that movement is simple displacement in space, knowable only in terms of the actual. Exploring the relation between sensation and thought through the prisms of dance, cinema, art, and new media, Manning argues for the intensity of movement. From this idea of intensity—the incipiency at the heart of movement—Manning develops the concept of preacceleration, which makes palpable how movement creates relational intervals out of which displacements take form.
Humans have bred plants and animals with an eye to aesthetics for centuries: flowers are selected for colorful blossoms or luxuriant foliage; racehorses are prized for the elegance of their frames. Hybridized plants were first exhibited as fine art in 1936, when the Museum of Modern Art in New York showed Edward Steichen’s hybrid delphiniums. Since then, bio art has become a genre; artists work with a variety of living things, including plants, animals, bacteria, slime molds, and fungi.
Working at the cutting edge of live performance, an emerging generation of artists is employing digital technologies to create distinctive forms of interactive, distributed, and often deeply subjective theatrical performance. The work of these artists is not only fundamentally transforming the experience of theater, it is also reshaping the nature of human interaction with computers.