Re: [-empyre-] Opening remarks on new media history


Alan, thanks for noting that institutionalization has its downsides. Your
perspective surprises me, so it's good to read it.

> On a smaller scale, performance art was once just 'performance' - along
> with the notion of field came institutional- ization, expectations, etc.

I don't know this history at all, but it seems like it's worth knowing if
one's interested in any new field with an artistic aspect. How did having
performance art professors make it less possible for people to do

>From the perspective of advancing our knowledge and understanding through
academic work, I can't agree that not having a department (or a job) gives
people the necessary scholarly freedom to pursue something like creative
computing, digital art, electronic literature, etc. I think it means that
the only work that will get done is work done by (a) people who are
well-off enough to survive as independent scholars, or (b) people who
tailor their work to be suitable to existing departments and institutions,
which have different purposes. And even people in category (a) will not
find journals to publish in.

(I think in my email of a few minutes ago I answered your question about
what I think new media is, by the way.)

Perhaps the main difference in our views on this is that you're
considering the "art and design" aspects of new media, while I'm also
interested in the scholarly and critical approaches that might be
developed. I certainly don't advocate boxing all art and design work in
new media into university new media departments -- and I don't see that
even the most sinister mastermind could accomplish this. So I see little
potential for harm there, but much hope for better critical work in new

-Nick Montfort
 My new book, Twisty Little Passages:

On Thu, 1 Jan 2004, Alan Sondheim wrote:

> >
> > >(1) new media is a field,
> >
> - This makes me very nervous. On a smaller scale, performance art was once
> just 'performance' - along with the notion of field came institutional-
> ization, expectations, etc.
> Only in the sense of the field verse of Olson, of a loosely unbound domain
> or Wittgensteinian language game, can I buy into the notion. Otherwise,
> the expectations produce genre.
> I've not been able to afford the book, but have read numerous essays in
> it, and have taught new media. When there's no department (I was the
> sub-department), the freedom's amazing, and the work can go in literally
> any conceivable direction. Add requisites and 'field,' and the
> expectations literally drown out everything else.
> Is 'new media' going to be new 20 years from now? Does it include for
> example experimental music? electronic music? experimental jazz? folk
> music? folk music on electronic instruments? Where are lines drawn? What's
> acceptable?
> This isn't a post 60s rant, but I'd definitely argue for a fundamentally
> anarchic approach to art and design here.
> By the way, caught between (art) department expectations and the world -
> the school chose to get rid of 'new media' altogether, termined my
> contract and the professorship line itself.
> - Alan
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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