In Christiane Paul’s “The Myth of Immateriality: Presenting and Preserving New Media,”she urges the reader to think about the ways that new media art is preserved and presented in terms of the paradoxical relationship between the materiality and the immateriality of the new media art. She is able to challenge the reader in this way by the way she presents her discussion of the art gallery.
The different definitions that Paul provides for “immateriality” in reference to art forms are integral to the reader’s understanding of just what she is talking about when she uses this word, and because she uses this word throughout the her entire article, it is imperative that the reader grasps what she is talking about. Paul describes, “…its basis in software, systems, and networks” (251). Paul also cites Tiziana Terrenova’s definition of “immateriality” to hopefully provide the reader with a more complete understanding. Paul says, “A more productive approach to understanding this tension may be Tiziana Terrenova’s definition of immateriality as ‘links between materialities’” (252). Because the digital can sometimes seem so abstract, in part because of all of the different parts working together as a system, this definition both provides the reader with a different level of understanding when it comes to immateriality and it also produces tension within the reader and the environment because the reader is forced to think about immateriality in terms of the system’s materiality, which is so perplexing and paradoxical.
Another point that adds to the argument she is making is when she talks about new media art is in terms of computability. Paul states, “A lowest common denominator for defining new media art seems to be its computability, the fact that it is computational and based on algorithms” (253). By explaining new media art in this way and then continuing with a list of adjectives/synonyms that can be and often are used conjunctively to describe new media art, the reader is better able to understand what exactly Paul means when she says “new media art,” even though it is a very basic definition/comparison.
Paul’s discussion about the role that “collaborative exchange” and “participatory exchange” play in the creation of new media allows her to better articulate her argument. She explains, “One could argue that the changes in the roles of artists, audiences, and curators that have been brought about by collaborative models largely relate to the immateriality of systems, exchanges, and cultural production in general. At the same time, all parties involved are establishing links between the virtual space of work, with its communicative and participatory interaction, and the respective site of interaction, be it a gallery space or one’s own home” (258). These changes in roles that Paul is referring to point the reader back to page 256 when she gives more specifics about the artist as a “mediatory agent and facilitator.” Because certain works of art invite the audience to participate in the creation of that art piece, this sort of participatory exchange forces the original creator of the piece of art into this role that separates and distances him or her from the piece.
When Paul began talking about the “ghettoization” of new media, I got a little bit confused, but I don’t think that detracted too much from my overall understanding of her article. I guess it wasn’t so much the “ghettoization” concept that I didn’t understand as much as it was the “black box” and “dark space” terminology she used when she was talking about a “lounge area for computers” (259).
Another part of Paul’s article that I wasn’t completely clear on was her discussion of the “curatorial software program” (257). I can see how this is a type of participatory exchange and I understand that she was trying to illustrate the “openness of digital technologies,” but I got a little bit lost as she was going through the examples. I’m not sure if I just don’t understand her terminology or if I don’t understand her thought trajectory?
Question to the author: You conclude by saying, “…if 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). Are you saying that you do not believe that “new media art” has found its place in the world yet? If so, how will new media art find its place and what can we do to work towards finding that place? Also, in what ways do you think that by finding this place in the world for new art media “the notion of what art it and can be” will be expanded?