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

What Alan has had to say here is one of the most incisive positions yet to
be raised... 

otherwise what continues to be positied it becomes simply a rebooting of
arguments and conventions


Original Message:
From: Alan Sondheim
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004 20:54:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Opening remarks on new media history

A couple of points re: below. Certainly video doesn't relate to
interactivity (for the most part), but it _does_ relate to moving image,
moving inage content, etc. Most flash isn't up to the level of video in
any way. It's this kind of division that I find problematic; I've done a
lot of video that is available on my site, other video that's full screen
for projection, more still for laptop performance. These aren't 'new

Certainly Sorensen3 is new media codec, mp4, etc.

It becomes blurrier and blurrier.

What I would honestly propose is that new media is not a _field_ but a
_filter._ In this sense, fifty years from now, there would still be new
media - not as a discipline, but a loose domain critiquing and producing
within and upon whatever has come along at that point.

In this sense, new media is not a discipline or noun or product or
production but an ongoing process.


On Fri, 2 Jan 2004, Nick Montfort wrote:

> Alan,
> Thanks for the description of how performance art became a field, and the
> problems that came about as a result. Although this history doesn't
> persuade me to abandon the project of new media as a discipline, it
> certainly illuminates some things to watch out for when a new type of
> artistic practice is beset by theory.
> I think the exclusion of certain types of practice and the encoding of
> certain manifestoes has already occurred in fields related to new media.
> Link-and-node literary hypertext became the paradigm for computer
> literature by the early 1990s, so that anything else (computer characters
> like Eliza, story generators, interactive fiction, online textual
> performance) couldn't be studied in English departments, for the most
> part. This is exactly the sort of thing to be wary of -- systematically
> excluding work for reasons of distaste. I fight it just about every week,
> and I hope people point out the times when I make the same type of
> mistake.
> But looking at the issue today, I don't see that there is a special
> concern here that applies to all of new media. Is there a danger that all
> new media production might become "tethered to classes"? New media happens
> in so many contexts -- official and unofficial academic ones, artistic
> ones, commercial ones, the contexts of industrial and defense research,
> etc. -- that I don't think there's any danger of an academic discipline
> dominating the creative practice. (I feel this way about the specific new
> media form called interactive fiction, too, and wrote about this near the
> end of Twisty Little Passages.) Rather, I think a new media discipline is
> likely to make a contribution in its own way and fruitfully inform the
> whole ecology of creative, artistic computing.
> > In spite of all that's been written, I'm not sure what 'critical work in
> > new media' means - I can certainly understand it in terms of Lev's work
> > Aarseth etc., but the field seems to me broken, and should be.
> I think we have a similar idea of what "critical work in new media" means.
> While the field is somewhat "broken" from an institutional perspective,
> the people who are in this emerging new media field certainly know about
> each other's work and are developing ideas together, so I don't see it as
> being too broken in that sense. Certainly, people have different foci and
> perspectives -- for instance, Aarseth probably cares more today about game
> studies becoming a field than about new media becoming a field. Then
> again, he did found Digital Arts and Culture and was an advisor for the
> New Media Reader.
> > If new media, by the way, is kept tethered to the computer - then what
> > about nanotech, embedded systems, electrical (rather than electronic)
> > work, video work?
> I don't see a focus on computing as a tether, any more than, in different
> disciplines, focusing on literature or visual art is a tether. Video work
> and nanotechnology don't inform my analysis of interactive fiction at all,
> but an understanding of the computer does, because this form of new
> media, like all the rest, is essentially computational. If someone can
> explain how nanotechnology or video art relate to interactive fiction in a
> way that enhances my understanding of the form, I'd be greatful. I just
> doubt that these will be as essential to new media analysis and practice,
> in general, as is computing.
> -Nick Montfort
>  My new book, Twisty Little Passages:
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