Digital art poses a number of challenges to the traditional art world due to its process-oriented nature, which is at odds with long established methods of presentation, collection, and preservation. The digital medium’s role in the art world raises questions about artistry, audiences, and curators. These challenges stem from digital art’s immateriality, meaning the software, systems, and networks. The myth of the total immateriality of digital art only exists because people fail to see the link to the material components. It is important for the future longevity of digital art for there to be an established support system that accommodates its unique needs.
The immateriality of digital art presents several issues in that it does not fit traditional definitions of art. Paul writes, “Immateriality is not a fiction but an important element of new media that has profound effects on artistic practice, cultural production, and reception, as well as the curatorial process” (252). She adds, “Immateriality cannot be separated from the material components of the digital medium” (252). “The presentation and preservation of new media art” arises from the tension between material and immaterial (252).
Digital art has a number of issues with the processes discussed about. Paul writes, “The time-based nature of new media art is far more problematic than that of film or video owing to the inherently nonlinear qualities of the digital medium” (253). Not only is the art time-based but the hardware and software are often out-of-date in a relatively short amount of time, which can create problems for presentation. She writes, “New media works tend to be more context-dependent than many other art forms since they require information about which set of data…is being shown, where it is coming from, and according to which logic it is configured” (253). This passage alludes to the process-oriented nature of digital media, which is in conflict with traditional methods of presentation that focus on the art work only and not the process. In addition, interaction, audience participation, variability, and modularity all set digital art apart from the traditional.
These works need a dedicated space for presentation without marginalizing them. Traditional art museums just aren’t set up in a way that showcases digital art in the best way possible. She writes, “Unless these works have been specifically created for a gallery space, they naturally transcend the physical boundaries and walls of the museum” (263). What these spaces will look like going forward will help determine digital art’s role. She concludes, “If the new media art will find its place in the art world through a support system that accommodates its needs, it will expand the notion of what art is and can be” (272).
- Is this “myth of immateriality” an actual thing, as in do people actually view digital media as being wholly separate from its material components?
I understand the unique needs of digital art, especially in the context of a traditional art museum, but I wish Paul would elaborate more on “the uneasy relationship that institutions tend to have with new media at this point in time.” Are there instances where a museum refused to show a digital art work out of prejudice? Or does this uneasiness stem completely from the novelty of digital media?
- The Adobe Digital Studio in the library would seem to fit the definition of a “separate black box or lounge area” in that it is a dedicated space for the creation and presentation of digital media. What are some ways to view the role of this studio? Does it seem like a new, innovative addition to the library in that it creates a special area for digital media? Or might it also seem somewhat marginalized in that it is isolated in its own corner?