The New Media Challenge
by JD Jarvis
MOCA contributing editor
Art, entertainment or design?
I did not attend the Whitney Biennial 2002, so I’ll critique it. Not the corporeal exhibit, but the virtual one provided to me in a list prepared by MOCA’s founder and host, Don Archer, from the New Media artists featured by the Whitney. This list arrived after some good debate as to the meaning of “new media” and the implications and perceptions of this work as art…or not. Also, one has to note that while many well-known galleries in their unquenchable quest for newness have all but re-defined “digital art” as a whole to mean “new media” or “web-based” projects, there is little discussion to be found that seems to approve of the resulting artwork itself. The challenge, to me, offered by this list was to discover why so many institutions love to exhibit this work and why so few people apparently really appreciate it, and to come to some personal terms as to how I would place this in the larger context of art.
By the way, I am not totally ignorant of the Whitney exhibit, having read some reviews in the New York papers (web editions, of course) and having heard some reliable eyewitness accounts from Don and my wife who were lucky enough to attend the live show. Also, I understand from all accounts that the attendance of the exhibit overall has been phenomenal. But, I will not let the facts detract from my research and must remain mindful of how hard it is for humans to ignore train wrecks and other bloody disasters. In other words, as your humble critic, I will not let the lack of total ignorance keep me from spouting my opinions. After reading mine, I challenge you to make your own.
Paying a visit to Mark Napier’s website located at www.potatoland.org is a lot like pulling out that long neglected box of toys you used to keep under the bed, whose varied activities provided the perfect sanctuary for the rainy-day refugee. If not in body, then certainly in spirit, you will find some old friends: “Mr. Potato Head”, “ColorForm”, the trusty “Etch-a-sketch” and “Spiro-graph”. These sorts of activity-driven toys and games have been re-cycled (or in post-modernist terms “appropriated”) here for your virtual enjoyment.
Napier’s “designs” (since we are told that web sites are not “pages”, but temporary graphic images) fall into two rough categories. One category involves the use of a self-contained databases and another taps into the web to supply fodder for various processes. These web-based designs supply the most provoking scholarship in terms of thinking about the web browser as an “organ of perception, through which we “see” the web”. In this respect, the flow of digital code, which describes the appearance of a web site on your screen, is taken to be raw material. Web browsing software is the filter, much like our own sense, which encodes this raw information into an understandable and usable form. By altering our senses (in this case designing an alternative browser software), this raw data flow is separated from its content and “content becomes abstraction, text becomes graphics and information becomes art”. Perhaps he confuses art with hallucination, but the idea is intriguing.
Four of the twelve web-based-activities-thingies are of the sort which manipulate this HTML code stream. They are “The Digital Landfill”, “Shredder”, “Riot” and “Feed”. “Feed” is perhaps the latest piece of these four having been constructed for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Described as “streaming non-content” the viewer is given a means of selecting a URL, the code of this web site is then re-routed not to the normal display of a “page” but to nine separate graphing windows that display the code as graphs. The viewer can re-size and re-position these rectangular windows and experience the art of it. In terms of art, despite all the activity on each individual graph window, once you have arranged your display it is fairly stagnant and predictable, if not ironic that having abandoned the concept of web as “pages” we are presented with a page of “windows”.
Breaking out of a rectangular presentation seems to be the big challenge for all these pieces, although “Shredder” and “Riot” distribute the pieces appropriated from URLs in slightly different ways. “Riot” builds its page from combining text, images and links from a number of web pages recently chosen by previous users. That is, you get to direct the page to a website of your choice and that website is mixed into several other websites that others before you have chosen. Here rectangular blocks filled with text and images can be superimposed, enlarged or reduced and the visual results are somewhat more engaging. “Shredder” does the same, but for just one selected website. It is thrilling to select ones own website and see it taken apart and displayed in a totally random way and in the case of “Riot” to see dismembered pieces of your site thrown in with others. Having spent so much time “organizing” a site it is a bit disconcerting to see it eviscerated and at the same time how unusual, as if going to a foreign country and seeing familiar faces among total strangers.
“The Digital Landfill” seems to have been the seminal site for all these code-stream-manipulation sites. As in the above, a viewer can select from a list of sites that have been consigned by other viewers to the digital dump. You can choose from a block of about ten sites, which get mushed together on top of one another (in nice rectangular boxes, of course) and as a result looks very much like the results one gets from running “Shredder” or “Riot”. “The Digital Landfill” has one feature that allows you to throw the website of your choosing into the heap. One reason that I assume that this site may have been the proto-type for all the rest is that it was the only one that exhibited an error in its operation. In terms of the appreciation of the new media genre of digital art this is an important consideration.
The remaining eight pieces on the Potato Land website feature “activities” revolving around the manipulation of a pre-designated base of data, which is not derived from the web but remains self-referential. Sometimes the viewer is allowed to manipulate this self contained information and sometimes the piece operates in and of itself. “Stolen” attempts to be the most cerebral, offering a good bit of text as background. The instructions for using the site indicate how images are acquired (stolen) as reflected light and then loaded (stolen) onto a newsgroup’s URL. The instructions then further invites the viewer to continue this chain of appropriation by selecting from its bank of appropriated images of 13 eyes, 14 hands, 11 feet, 20 nipples and 19 words to frame and create ones own art. The point concerning post-modernist penchant for appropriating and plagiarizing ones way to art is well taken, but the resulting art does not make this seem like anything that will bear fruit.
“Parallel Spaces” allows one to click through six curious and enigmatic compositions of acquired imagery interrelated to one another by being totally unrelated. “d-machine” (a.k.a. the desire machine) offers one soft porn shot divided among ten elongated rectangular bands with little or no control or chance to alter the flow of the composition. “Heroes” randomly divides six well-known faces between seven panels and cycles through the various eyes, noses, foreheads, and mouths almost too fast to be recognized. “Spud” divides a potato between two windows and confounds the viewer who tries to line them up in any logical way, a virtual way to play with ones food. And there is “Pulse”, which can only be described as a rectangle of moving color. It’s just that exciting.
It might be logical, simply based on the low level of complexity of the above sites, to assume that they are proto-types to the final three sites in this collection. One can see a little of each in these, as well as a heightened sense of play reminiscent of those childhood activity toys in these pieces. “©Bots” deals with a favorite topic of mine, which is the “meme”. Those little bits of pop culture that spread through our collective thoughts like a virus. Here “©Bots” claims that by selecting from the bits of pop culture imagery in its image bank and combining this imagery into a “Robot” of your own design, implanted memes can become disrupted and lose their power to persuade. This is both a heady and fun concept and the software allows one to not only construct a “Bot” of your own from the various mouths, eyes, teats and other appendages, but you can view other “Bots” and save your “Bot” to show to your cyber-buddies. I can’t get away from how similar this activity is to playing with Mr. Potato Head or ColorForms and I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek touch of having an activity that claims to be an “anti-corporate copyright” piece, trademarked. It is after all “©Bots” ™.
Perhaps the most educational site of this collection is “Net.Flag” which Mr. Napier’s design team assembled for the Guggenheim permanent collection. The piece offers one the opportunity to construct an international, no boundaries, internet flag while on the internet itself. As with “©Bots” the user can view the flags of others and save your flag for others to see. Plus the visual data bank of flag parts from all over the world is accompanied by an educational explanation of the meaning behind the symbols and colors and designs of a lot of the world’s flags. This is a site that would be ideal for any mid to high school student wishing to learn more about flags and their meaning. How the Guggenheim places it in its permanent collection of art would be another highly educational topic.
Admittedly, I’ve saved my favorite for last. “P-soup” which announces itself as, “primordial participation visual soup animation” is exactly that. The viewer (and in this case, operator) is given a set of tools along a familiar looking “tool bar” that can be selected and register on the main page with a click. This click sets in motion a graphic element that then begins to expand and cover the entire page as a ripple grows to cover a small pond. Along with this graphic element a lovely chiming sound is generated. More clicks yield more elements and sounds, which repeat every ten seconds or so until an exceedingly rich interactively interwoven tapestry of image and sound is performing on ones tiny screen. In this way, (participation) a hypnotic (primordial) kinetic (animation) audio/visual experience is built up (visual soup). It is soothing, habit- forming and hypnotic, a truly esthetic experience, recalling for me John Cage’s discussions of chance operations and the Zen of ego-less art-making. I recall the hours of work that would have gone into making a video tape or a film animation to do the same thing, but how once made can only be repeated for the captive viewer. The creative leap here is that Napier (et. al.) have designed a means by which an individual is no longer captive to the chance creation of another artist but creates, within the limits of the software design, their own artsy experience. The fact that this all comes packaged so simply as a virtual toy (think Etch-a-sketch or Spiro-graph) that anyone can operate and enjoy is very significant and points to a real potential in new media work. “P-Soup” diffuses the mystique of art-making and suggests the playfulness that underlies this deeply engrained human endeavor. More significant is the fact that this piece so totally removes the creator’s ego from the process, while creating a tool which allows an individual such elegant access to an esthetic experience. Ultimately, this indicates how the role of the designer might, in our time, prove to be more giving and potentially important than that of the artist.
All in all, Mark Napier’s “Potatoland.org” is a collection of rainy day activities that are at once nostalgic and new, with a few gems that point the way toward real potential for new media design. Mark is also an excellent writer and there is gold to find even in his own dusty toy box labeled “ancient” on his temporary graphics image thing (formerly known as a web “page”).
“It Came from Cyber-space”
Historically, innovations in art were spurred on by visual, plastic or technical means and presented us with new and unique objects to see and ponder. Modernism brought conceptual art into the mix and objects became necessary only in referring our attention to the internal and cerebral place from which all art emerges. After modernism and with the advent of "new media" and web-based art we appear to be venturing into the arena of imaginary art.
For example, what good science-fiction fan having visited John Klima’s, “Earth 2001” website and/or installation at the Whitney’s 2002 Biennial could not say, "Yeah, this is the one where the starship captain is seated at a huge hemispherical dome, which displays the surface of the planet they are orbiting. We see a little red blip on the screen and the captain begins to zoom in on the global projection. Oceans and landmasses become evident and finally the blip becomes an identifying numerical marker for our hero. And, we just keep zooming in past mountain ranges, through trees and pretty soon we are looking down on our hero. The captain opens a comm. line and our hero looks up, his whole face and shoulders now filling the hemispherical screen and begins to carry on a conversation with the captain."
Imaginary art is a sort of reverse archeology. We are given a very cursory and primitive model and along with a good deal of reading material are asked to imagine how it will be when all the wrinkles are ironed out and everybody has all the bandwidth and money they could possibly need. We are invited to experience the inventor's mind, much like looking at Edison's Dictaphone and being asked to imagine Macintosh's Ipod, which is essentially the same invention separated only by the human genius for invention and imagination over time. Imagination is flawless, the perfect medium for art.
But like most dream constructions once brought into the light of day, some flaws begin to show. Experiencing Klima’s admitted "beta" version of the program he created to integrate USGS data on earth’s coastlines, GOES-10 weather satellite information, LANDSAT-7 satellite imagery of earth’s surface, terrain geometry from the US military website and current local weather conditions from 6,000 worldwide reporting stations is an impressive but daunting task. My computer, for example, did not allow me to see the entire text below the globe without increasing screen resolution to the point where the text then became too small to read. Some aggravating control bugs made the trackball globe hard to steer and when I finally got an image on the right hand screen, I could not move my cursor over to scroll the image screen without activating the trackball again and subsequently losing the image which is tied to the global track ball and automatically sets about refreshing itself.
I cannot vouch for the physical installation itself and I'm sure the program when allowed to run on its native environment is free of these disruptive quirks. However, judging from the screen shot of the installation itself, the globe seems rather small and mounted like a disco-mirror-ball from an ugly drop ceiling. Obviously, this is a difficult subject to photograph with any flattering results. But it calls to mind important critical topics surrounding "new media" work.
At this juncture, it is very hard to know exactly what one is seeing, let alone try to critically place an individual piece in a workable context. As art, the idea that this exhibit is to somehow refer us to the Orwellian concept of Big Brother and by means of our imagination feel the potential oppression or liberation that might make itself available to us through a web-based integration of finer and finer levels of global surveillance is laughable and nearly ridiculous. I am struck by exactly the opposite and realize that if this were to become the model for global control we all might indeed be quite safe and well hidden. It reminds me of what an oxymoron the phrase "intelligence gathering" has become in light of our recent history. It affirms that if we are to see the age of Big Brother it will not be through this sort of technology, but rather it will be built from the proven methods of communication interception and neighbor ratting on neighbor.
However this project, taken as a thesis on and a compilation of current technologies, wrapped into a brilliant amalgam of custom software and hardware of elegant and forward thinking design, absolutely excels. In this respect, this work is worthy of any number of doctoral thesis programs in a wide range of academic topics. The far-reaching implications for the integration of existing technologies is...well, far-reaching. It boggles the inventor's mind and is a great accomplishment.
Or, we might approach this piece as entertainment. As our art museums hearken back to their roots as halls of exposition and dazzlement, as they become the gaudy arcades of community entertainment once again, we will no doubt see more and more of this sort of installation. But, then having seen the "real thing" in action on the flight deck of a Hollywood mediated entertainment experience, we encounter that deeply incongruent feeling that what we have already dreamed is so much more richly rendered than this current reality. As entertainment we must conclude, "not very".
If this work suffers any it is from this cloud that hangs over the question of context for "new media". Until we know what new media is, we will not know if what we are looking at is art, entertainment, scholarship or science exhibit. It is new and we shall see what we shall see. So, in the end this is, after all, just a beginning.
As the World Turns
(WARNING: This site contains real stories, from real people’s real lives and may coax out your own real feelings. It is rated TF13…Touchy-feely with mature language and discussions about relationships, love, loss, personal triumphs and junk like that.)
With her website “Turns”, located at www.myturningpoint.com, Margot Lovejoy has created a perfectly balanced and poignant web-based experience. This is journalism at its highest level, with artistically designed interface and graphics that contribute to the power of the site’s content. By maintaining control of her imagination and working within the current technical capabilities of the web, she delivers a poetic space where one is allowed to contemplate the turning points in their own life by witnessing those same moments in the lives of others. It is a pleasure to run across a website that, rather than jumping ahead to what the web may be able to deliver in those promised days of future unlimited bandwidth and some sort of imagined era of homogenous hardware, actually works now. And, not only does it work, it delivers a real, heartfelt experience.
The site invites people to write and share one of their own life’s turning points, those situations that for good or ill changed your life forever after. As one would expect there is an initial bit of voyeurism involved, but as each short story is revealed the total anonymity of the experience erases this feeling and each tale becomes a crystallized gem from a human life. Each “turn” is a morsel that requires that you sample just one more. As a fine dining experience would, morsel after morsel builds up until you are full to the brim with human lives. There is little else to do at this point but complete the cycle and share your own turning point. Finally, you realize that this website has actually brought you to yourself and whether you submit a story or not you have undoubtedly confronted your own story, your own life.
This project recognizes and cleverly utilizes the anonymity of the web to move us quickly past the social conventions and manners that would ordinarily keep us from sharing this information in a face-to-face situation. And, although we know nothing of this person before or after the event they describe, we certainly come away with a concentrated, distilled essence of a real person’s actual life. In addition, Lovejoy offers the more visually-minded a means to graphically present this turning point in the form of what are called “maps”. A somewhat primitive drawing program is even provided as a means to upload a small graphic file of your own making. The imposed focus, vis-a-vis the subject matter for these visual works, gives the graphics a lot of power and is one of the nicest collections of personal images on the web.
Ms. Lovejoy is also to be commended for her visual graphics and interface, which makes excellent use of web tool’s capabilities to sort the stories in different ways. One can explore the stories and maps based on crisis/epiphany, male/female, ethnicity, age, and time when the story occurred. The interface directs the viewer into a quiet and evenly-paced mood, interspersed with soothing rustling nature-sounds that add to the contemplative tone of the overall site. As one changes the sorting criteria odd little shapes shift their position on the screen. These blips represent individual stories and as you click on one at random, as you would select a seashell or an interesting rock, the shape draws nearer and morphs to reveal the story of someone’s turning point. It is so nicely paced that you do not become impatient with repeating this action over and over as each “turn” is presented. It is indeed a bit like beachcombing. “Turns” settles you into a leisurely pace and as you explore the gems of other people’s lives you gain a view of the horizon in which we all share. In contemplating this we are led directly to our own turning points. It is a deep and refreshing web experience.
I just returned from Yael Kanarek’s “World of Awe” found at www.worldofawe.net . It is located on a windswept featureless plane somewhere between awesome and awful. The realm of a writer, for the most part, fleshed out here and there with a few fairly simple 3D renderings and landscapes reminiscent of a tutorial project for Bryce software. Mainly we find text and stories and poems, loosely bound together as a tale of a lonesome traveler, hunting illusive treasure, the somewhat standard metaphor for life, in general. This tale itself is ostensibly being delivered to us through a journal recorded on an abandoned laptop computer, hence the desktop-like interface through which we call up the various images and texts. It is this writing and the hints that this piece lends to the future of a new digital literature that are its strengths. But, hints are not enough.
This world is also populated by bugs…”runtime errors”…”missing code” that makes de-bugging the system impossible. As if I want to spend time working on someone else’s web site. Here again one of the major drawbacks to new media being the incompatibilities that exist for custom designed code to operate effectively on a wide spectrum of various individual’s PC’s. It goes without saying that work that cannot be viewed cannot be fully appreciated.
But, I know what Yael and his team are shooting for. I have been transported to a virtual world and felt the eerie sense of loneliness and mystery, “walked” along strange paths, deciphering mysterious symbols and sounds, uncovering tales of lost or missing societies and delving into the morass of the human psyche that can create as well as destroy. In short, I have played Myst, Riven and Exile. Besides the inclusion of some “adult material”, “World of Awe” is quite pale by comparison, for these CD based games have set the bar for such environmental exploration and computer augmented fiction quite high.
In the end, dear Diary, the only mystery I would like to solve is what has happened to those who curate the various design extravaganzas we now call new media exhibits? Does “World of Awe” rate exhibition at the Whitney, because it is delivered free (albeit faulty) via the web. Is art now something that is more affordable, but less rich. Perhaps, since it is created and distributed as a game, Myst and its sequels, spoil the art argument by pretending to be nothing more than great digital design and engaging storytelling. In this case, what is called “art” in this context of new media falls far short of what the rest of us know as a computer game.
Perhaps it is unfair to compare a CD delivered piece to a work designed for web-based consumption. Bandwidth being the canvas or support for the work, we cannot expect the web to match the depth and speed of resident data coming off a high speed CD player. The unfortunate reality here is that in the eye and mind of the person consuming the experience the two are not separated. Just as independent and educational TV has had to invest in tools that match or mimic the capabilities of commercial TV and even Hollywood film productions to create moving and eye catching graphics, special effects and complex sound mixes, so will the web art pieces have to match the performance expectations of the best of the CD designers. Putting web-based new media in an art gallery context will not overcome these performance expectations and why should they. Otherwise, aren’t we asking people to expect less from their visit to an art gallery than they can experience at home, alone? By virtue of this same thread, we must question the installation of new media work, which is a “Beta” version of what the artist intends. Is an established and respected art gallery the place to show unfinished work? If this trend is to continue then I think a little honesty from the galleries is in order and they must begin to admit to themselves and the art-going public that they are exhibiting designs at all stages of development which might, in the future, be considered as art. But, that designation must be viewed as “pending” and can only apply after completion of the work and across-the-board de-bugging.
To my surprise, I wrapped up the Whitney Biennial 2002 list of new media artists rather quickly. Benjamin Fry’s site at www.acg.media.edu/people/fry/valence was gone…not available…could not be loaded. And, the remaining two sites Mary Flanagan’s and Josh On’s, while noteworthy, did not receive my fullest attention for a couple of interesting reasons. Ms. Flanagan’s site, located at www.maryflanagan.com/collection.htm , is a self-executing program that once initiated scours your hard drive and any other hard drive you might be networked to and “collects” digital memorabilia which is then displayed in a freeform kinetic collage. The piece is meant to represent a sort of memory, in Flanagan’s words, “that not only reflect[s] the computer and technoculture in content, but the user's artifacts from his or her interactions…” with that digital content they have chosen to view over the course of that computer’s operation. She intends for this presentation to be more personal than “most software art” and it is. I can vouch for the thrill of seeing my own website as it was run through Mark Napier’s “shredder”. Like discovering a shoebox full of forgotten photographs, one can experience the little shocks of recognition and the memories that one experiences while recalling events and moments from ones life. The effect must be much the same when running “collection” when scraps of memos, bits of downloads, images, web sites you have visited and e-mails you have sent/received float up to the surface of your computer’s screen in a stream of digital consciousness.
But I can only imagine what “collection” must be like; because, if the above description of how the program operates sounds like a virus to you, I can report that my PC feels the same way. Of course, I could disable my virus protection, but my network manager would skyrocket into space. So, while I appreciate the idea of designing virus-like software that serves the purpose of art, I will have to pass on viewing it on my terminal in my work place. In my imagination, I think, what a great way to retire a faithful old computer. Rather than pull the plug, set it in a prominent spot and run Flanagan’s “collection” on it as a kinetic memorial to your old friend and the relationship you shared. It also occurs to me what a nicer world it would be if the talents of virus designers could be turned to the less malevolent activity of web art. But, then I suppose in their twisting cortexes that is what they imagine they are doing.
Speaking of twisted cortexes, Josh On’s “theyrule” is designed with conspiracy freaks in mind. Offering information and visual maps that show “who” sits on “which” board-of-directors, for “what” Fortune 100 companies. The inbreeding and “strange bedfellows” is, based on notes left by many of the website’s viewers, fascinating and important information for some. This sort of thing makes my own head ache as things I can do nothing about and which ultimately control the way the planet is run, build up layer upon layer like a fine varnish that cuts off all air, water, blood and the ability to move; its just more anxiety, which I do not need. This is a good idea, though, providing such information; I base my disinterest and my quick “walk-by” viewing strictly on my own personal bias and an unabashed desire for the bliss of ignorance wherein this is concerned.
These two sites do point out that new media works are, for the most part, driven by their content and should be judged based on how well they are designed to deliver this content, to what degree this presentation supports the content and on the content’s literary merit. On’s “theyrule” is nicely designed, if not a bit drab, and delivers the content, allowing for viewer’s input in shaping, recording and commenting on various maps. Whether it offers more than William Foote White's book “The Power Elite”, which Mr. On acknowledges as an important source for his piece, is up for debate. Flanagan’s site has the potential to deliver ones own digitized content, web and computational experience back to oneself. The content is therefore intensely personal and the experience must be quite poetic. In creating web art that involves the viewer’s own experience Flanagan’s “collection” succeeds, without debate; I just can’t get by my worksite’s digital Gestapo to view it. Like most new media I have discovered in my recent voyages, I appreciate it in a “potential state”, for what it might be, for the capabilities it may one day offer.
Conclusion and a further challenge
My visits to these sites have led me to some conclusions. A lot of disappointment around “new media” or “web art” evaporates once you affirm that it is not art and go from there. Why insist that new media is art and then denigrating it because it is such poor art? Let’s say, “it’s not art” and then take a close look at what it actually might be.
We have another word for people that make things that function for others to use in some prescribed manner. In fact, within our current culture these folks are more highly revered and often better rewarded than our mere artists. We call them “designers”. Designers make things for people to use and amuse themselves. Designers work in teams and often hire artists to do help them realize their projects. Designers do not usually create art, they have other fish to fry. Designers worry about the function of their creations. Artists worry about mastery and control over the creative process. Artists can take or leave content. Web browser or new media designers are dealing with content whether they choose to deliver it or deny it.
I note Mark Napier’s thoughtful insight that the coded information that makes up a web site is basically a raw material and that a web browser is in a way a “sensual organ” through which we decode and make sense of this flowing material in order to “see” a web site on our monitor. Some new media designers are simply creating alternative ways of sensing the coded web flow. An intriguing concept, one that explains a lot about the inherent limitations toward the creation of engaging art and why web-based new media often looks like a rectangular hallucination.
I want to make it clear that design and art are both noble endeavors. This is not an art vs. design thing. There is no fight. In fact, my premise is that art and design serve different purposes and have different criteria by which they can be equally appreciated. I have no desire to put either art or design on some pedestal, when it is obvious that in the case of “new media” each is serving the other quite nicely.
However, this is more than a mere semantic solution because, once we free ourselves from expecting art from a new media design, we are open to comparing and critiquing and, possibly, even advancing these new media constructs based on their goals and limits as functional design. And, for the most part that function lies in the delivery or manipulation of content. Despite some attempts to the contrary, the most successful new media work could better be termed “hyper-literature”. But, to attempt to make “new media” conform to the goals and limits of art is to force a lot of senseless hyperbole and unrequited expectations on what is essentially web browser design. We should compare apples to apples, art to art and design to design.
I am satisfied that I have met my self-imposed challenge to discover a means by which I can place “new media” in my understanding of art and design. I feel I even may have helped answer why so many people express dissatisfaction with the art they expect to see in new media design. But, I still wonder why a large number of high art galleries are working so hard to force-feed us the notion that new media is art, when it is clearly and appropriately, better and more constructively approached as design. I put to you that this Whitney Biennial was, for the most part, a "design show" featuring some of the latest hardware and cleverest designs in websites and digitally delivered info-environments. There was also some art there. Another and more telling challenge might be to attempt to discover what has happened to the savvy and discriminating curator?
Las Cruces, NM
JD Jarvis website