Re: [-empyre-] 'new media' -> future

I was in the process of putting together a response to Nick's response of 9
JAN, but then Jim's response arrived and I find it worthwhile, as it
finesses a number of my points, but also integrates Nick's points.

The crux, for me, is here:

> Sure, there can be 'new media' that don't use the computer. The more the
> better. But let's not lose sight of the big picture of what a field of 'new
> media' concerned with the digital is about, politically. Not only is it
> about cross-fertilization within the arts, but is toward a synthesis of the
> cultures of art and science. I think it was Aristotle who said that the end
> of education is the integration of our intellectual and emotional responses
> to life.


> There will continue to be 'new media' created, over time, but it seems
> likely the relation of them to the digital will be strong.

To which I most decidedly agree.

Where I disagree is here:

>I don't see new media as a bin of objects that includes or excludes an
>e-text of Moby Dick, but as a discipline. It can consider whatever is
>helpful in understanding creative and artistic computing.

As I think any consideration of New Media should include things outside the
computer, while Nick sees New Media and the computer as one and the same.

Another reason I am very itchy about this Computer==New Media is this:


Kim Cascone gave a paper at a conference (where I also gave a paper) in
October 2001 in Vancouver Canada, where he pointed out that since all music
is basically digital at this point (even if only in distribution), there is
no point in discussing digital music. This puts us in a post-digital

 Since, by Nick's definition, computer==New Media, then basically the entire
genre of electronic music is now a subset of New Media, which I find
pointless and largely irrelevent to musicians.

Turntablism is another branch of post-digital music, where one can mix
various audio sources (analogue turntables, digital CDs, live sound w/
processors, etc.) and while it has a "flavour of the month" aspect to it,
(like "Glitch") it also points to a much more interesting direction than if
it were all contained within a computer (once again, like Glitch, where
processes outside and with a computer can create interesting and valuable
and affective results and processes).

As VJ software increases in power and scope, and programming environments
become increasingly simple to use (viz MAX/MSP, Jitter, etc.) my take on
Performance Cinema comes into play as well : the work is CERTAINLY New and
Media, and would certainly fall under New Media, but it doesn't necessarily
have anything to do with the computer as an end point except (and this is a
very interesting and telling point) the fact that the projectors themselves
are Computers outfitted with lights, lenses and micromirrors (if you're
using DLP), and the work itself was processed using a computer running
software, and the origin of the projection are the flux lines on a hard

In fact, the microprocessors in a DLP projector could pretty much "whoop
ass" on anything we would call a computer even 20 years ago! Is the DLP
projector a computer? No, it's projector. this makes the whole thing much
more complicated, and while I *totally* admire Nick's dedication and depth
of understanding etc., my personal conception of New Media is much larger
than his, and I think that reasonable claims to such a larger and more
encompassing notion are not only warranted, but historically necessary as
demonstrated by the breadth and depth of the work being created, performed,
arranged, composed, developed, tested, etc.

I think that a unification of Science and Art is a waste of time. The two
are fundamentally different and answer different questions. At the same
time, I think that the dialogue between the two cultural forces will grow
and grow exponentially over time, as they do share a number of needs.

Jim wrote:

>This division (between Art and Science) is not a natural
>cognitive division; it is a cultural division.

I disagree. Cosmology has nearly nothing to do with typography. Calligraphy
doesn't alter or inform botany. Specious cases can be built, but they would
only serve to prove the point. Art and Science are behaviours, and they are
behaviours, performances, that have fundamentally different histories,
drives, and directives. We live in a technophilic civilisation, where
Science is held in great esteem, and for some fairly obvious reasons, IMHO,
as it is far more optimal at explaining how things happen than the preceding
dominant paradigm of superstitious claptrap, errrrr, "religion". But our
contemporary obsession with the devices that Science has provided
(computers, cell phones, steam engines, etc.) may be of such flexibility and
power (such as computers) that it may seem that the only thing that matters
is what these machines can do. And that's prima facie absurd, as Science is
completely incapable of providing a Why. I've discussed this before, so I
won't get into too many more details.

Every year, a friend of mine, John Brockman, asks a question to me and a few
hundred others and collects the responses which are then published.
Sometimes as a book, as what happened in 2000, with "The greatest invention
of the past 2000 years". this year, he asked us to provide 2 laws with our
names on them.

For the other responses, I would recommend you go here for some interesting
reading - note how tentative the scientists are.

My own quote is now published there, so I can now discuss it in detail:

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Warwick's First Law

*Art takes you out of town, and gives you a destination. Science builds the
bus that takes you there.*

Art, at its best, takes you out of your town, your home, your living room,
your armchair, your mind, and brings you some place ? a destination, a
wonderful place, a new way of looking at things, a deep shift in your
understanding of what it means to be human with a sense of profundity and
awe at the Creation, pointing toward a new and better environment for
living, smiling a new smile ? all by altering your consciousness in some
useful and insightful way.

Cooking up the better paint or programming didn't make the better paintmaker
a better painter, or the better word processor-maker a better writer, but
the great painter required the skills of the better paint makers and the
great writer needs the tool of the trade. If we are to go to these grand
destinations, artists need the insights and tools provided by science?the
"bus" to take us there. And we need to heed Art.

Warwick's Second Law

*Art tells the jokes that science insists on explaining.*

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these fundamental differences between Art and Science are not so much
limitations as they are opportunities for development and dialogue.  I would
dread a unification of Art and Science, as I believe it would not acquit
either well. That said, they are joined at the wrists and ankles and will be
breaking rock together as long as there are people around making the kind of
mess people make so well, and needing Art to guide them out of the mess and
Science building the bridges out of the frying pan, so we might more
comfortably fry somewhere else, perhaps at a lower temperature (even though
we all know it's the humidity that does one in...)

I don't see Art making for a gentler Science, nor do I see Science
necessarily making for a more insightful Art. Art can inform, guide,
inspire, and (at the least) humour and entertain society. Science can help
with the devices and discoveries it comes up with. Science will continue to
fill in blanks as to how the universe came to be and how it operates, but it
will need Art to provide the literature, visions, songs, architecture, and
dreams and jokes that make the society that Science makes possible,

crap. the washer just shut down. the load's out of balance. damn. gotta go.


Henry Warwick

"All are up against the wall... OF SCIENCE!"

words | images | visions | sounds

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