Re: [-empyre-] x 3
In 1989, Gene Youngblood wrote:
"The code is a metamedium; through it, high-level aesthetic constructs
from previous media become the primitives of the new medium."
I think this is an [interesting/provocative] statement in multiple
senses. Are [net.art/newmedia/artware] pieces built from a collection
of basic "primitives" (in the sense of geometric primitives)? Does it
even make sense to talk about "previous" media? The fact that the
practice of artware is actually *older* than the practice of video art
complicates matters somewhat; wouldn't code then be one of the
primitives of video art? In fact, in the 80s, video computing systems
such as the Video Toaster, the Macintosh and the SGI relied heavily on
software as a foundation for the creation of video. Even "pure"
hardware video systems use (and have used) huge amounts of software
Who is borrowing constructs from whom?
Surely, code-based artwork is easier to create these days than in the
50s or the 60s, and thus it seems like video is a "previous" media. And
whatever the technicalities are, newmedia and artware are practices
whose rise in popularity came long *after* the video movement. So
perhaps it is perfectly natural to talk about video as a predecessor to
However, are we really willing to use the terms "previous" and
"primitives?" "Previous" makes it sound as if the other media are
[outdated/over], a sentiment Youngblood underscores by calling code
"the new medium" in the same sentence. But most code artists would
object quickly to Youngblood's claim that code is a fundamentally
[cinematic/"event-stream" based] medium. I personally object to the
idea that code is any more of a metamedium than the "previous" types;
isn't the Motion Picture form an awe-inspiring metamedium, that has
[incorporated/absorbed] painting, photography, holography, video and
In a cultural landscape where innovative work is being done in just
about every medium, isn't it time to officially drop the idea that
"new" mediums are unique because they incorporate all the "old"
mediums, and instead realize that in a much broader sense, new artwork
is always the product of old artwork, regardless of the medium?
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