Re: [-empyre-] discussion statement

Hi All,
great discussion.
On Sunday, January 4, 2004, at 08:07  PM, Jill Scott wrote:

Currently I think the future of media art lies in the fact that our
perceptions of time, space, object, body and the represented character, can
be more influenced by the discoveries and ethics of science, than by
advances in technology itself. How will Media Art be effected by these
influences? How might explorations into natural and cognitive sciences
serve to further shift our definitions of Media art and body, as well as
our representations, audience roles and interactive responses?

This is a very good question - in part, I think that "Media Studies" tends to be caught up in pretty old science. For example, the sender-message-receiver model, variations upon which are still often at the basis of even many of the complex formulations of 'communication' (though not Chris or Alan's events of communication), is reasonably positivist, and pretty chunky from the point of view of science. I'd say what is usually said at this point - that it's very Newtonian or something, except that Newtonian physics has proved pretty useful. In fact, in many of its contemporary modes, media studies hasn't even got this far. Try, for example, of thinking communications in differential terms (philosophically as well as in terms of engineering)!

As a discipline media studies sometimes tends, in defending itself, to implicitly defend some pretty clunky science (in part, I think because it was born into, and still embraces some extremely clunky, outmoded, if well-funded, cog sci - but we've already been there on the list).

Media arts are a different matter entirely. They have always engaged more with contemporary science (and interestingly, contemporary scientists sometimes seen happy to engage with new media artists - is there much engagement at all between science and media studies?).

I wonder if this is partly because media studies often tends to think of media as (only secondary) facilitators of communications - and media artists are more interested in the media themselves qua media.

Of course, there is no clear divide and both approaches are useful. Moreover, in many settings both sides are talking to each. Indeed, this is a feature of new media events and institutions in general - even of new media theorists. 'New media' forces what we could call the mutual supplementarity - the productive difference or simply, differentials - between media and communications, to become the very axis of what's going on.

This has radical implications for disciplinarities, not only media disciplines, but arts and sciences disciplines. I often think that artists have the exciting task of bearing the burden of this breakdown in disciplinarity - more than academics and scientists. Or, to try and put this a little better, the frameworks and institutions for art are much more open to the breakdown of disciplinarity (in all senses) than the university or science establishments...

On top of this, one of the defining features of network (new media-based) societies, according to those such as Castells, is precisely that they flee such implications, even and especially as they deploy the technologies of new media. Then the discussion about disciplinarity gets really interesting. Disciplinarity becomes as form of exaggerated neurosis.

For me, this means that new media studies - whatever they might be - make a decisive break with media and communications disciplinarity. They make this break, whether the individuals involved want then to or not. So much so, that 'new media' - as necessary as the term might be - are neither new (anymore) nor media (in any traditional sense). New media make us think in transdisciplinary modes - more importantly, they radically broaden the ecologies (in the Bateson, Guattari senses of the word) through which we have to think/live media/communications events. Enter art and science ... but there are similar challenges to both of these.

All of which means that new media is the fun place to be, even if it doesn't exist!

cheers, a
"I thought I had reached port; but I seemed to be cast
back again into the open sea" (Deleuze and Guattari, after Leibniz)

Dr Andrew Murphie - Senior Lecturer
School of Media and Communications, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 2052
fax:612 93856812 tlf:612 93855548 email:
room 311H, Webster Building

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