Media Art Meetup I Presentation

These are the notes Arie Altena used for his presentation about Art & Technology for the first Media Art Meetup on the 27th of November 2018.

Media Art Meetup


A crash course in the field of Art & Media Technology

An overview of the field; its history, the current themes and issues, and possible future developments



Introduction to Art + Technology


Arie Altena

Arie Altena


– V2_ http://v2.nl

– Sonic Acts http://sonicacts.com

– Dark Ecology http://darkecology.net

– Witteveen+Bos Art + Technology Award http://www.kunsttechniekprijs.nl

– homepage http://ariealt.home.xs4all.nl/

– blog http://ariealt.net/

(a few words on terminology, to get it out of the way)

Art + Technology

What is art?

What is technology?

—> there is no art without technology

—> poiesis is enabled by technè

Art + Media

Media art

—> there is no art without a medium

When does art + … become an issue?

when: new technologies / media —> new expressions, new forms

when: new technologies / media —> transform society (and art, and culture, and politics, and human behaviour, and …)


New technologies —>

– new forms of expression, new forms of sensing

– enable new experiences, alternative conceptualizations

– expanding of the senses

– reflection on technological developments in society

– dreaming of new worlds, speculative imagination (utopia and dystopia)

– enthousiasm for the new

– enable experiment

et cetera

So when does Art + Technology become an issue in the arts?

Technological developments drive change of society (.. of perception, of imagination of the future, of behaviour) —> reasons for art to be involved with those technologies

Why does (did?) Art + Technology sometimes occupy an awkward position in the arts?

– until 30 years ago the arts (art criticism, art history) seldom focused on technological changes.

– new artworks that result from experimentation with new technologies / new media are (were?) not necessarily perceived as (good) art.

– artists who experiment with new technologies sometimes often work interdisciplinary (their practice didn’t look ‘artistic’).

just to remind: technological development is NEVER an autonomous process, it is always entangled with culture, politics, law, human behaviour, economy, ecology, et cetera.

A side note on media art

– often used term in the past 30 years

– originally: art that reflects on the use of media, specifically ‘mass media’

– very much caught up with ‘video art’

– media art = typically process-based, multimedia &c.

– becomes ‘new media art’ in the 1990’s

– new media… : radio, telephone, film, television, video, internet, VR, WWW etcetera

Sorry, I don’t find it a particular useful term to capture what’s going on in the arts now.

All these genres, subgenres, art forms…

(which partly overlaps & you can spend endless amounts of time bickering over the exact definition)

Technological art

Electronic art

Digital art

Interactive art

Installation art

Sound art


Light art

Kinetic art

Software art

Net art

Post-internet art

Cybernetic art

Expanded cinema

Generative art

Algorithmic art




Current themes

Algorithmic society

Data politics






Big data



Big Data

Wearables & Sensors


Forensic documentary


EAT – Experiments in Art & Technology


Art and engineering converge with counter cultural fervor in mid 60s New York under the banner E.A.T. - a watershed meeting of the exploratory minds of Bell Labs researchers and avant-garde artists like Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage that forever altered our perception of technology’s relationship to art and music. Results in 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering with John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor en Robert Whitman. Plus a.o. Billy Klüver en Max Matthews.

‘The idea of the artist-engineer collaboration materialized with 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, a group of collaborative performances that took place from 13 to 23 October 1966 at the 69th regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City.’



Maryanne Amacher

Amacher (1938) studied with George Rochberg and Karlheinz Stockhausen before initiating her telematic City Links series (1967-79). With the Triadex Muse-Synthesizer she began developing ear tone music in the 1970s. Amacher collaborated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and with John Cage. From the 1980s on she developed stagings for her work’s ways of hearing.


A portrait by Elisabeth Schimana and Lena Tikhonova

Maryanne Amacher at Ars Electronica



Unstable Media


Manifestation for the Unstable Media


Manifesto for the Unstable Media


Beweging - Tijd - Ruimte

(Alex Adriaansens & Joke Brouwer)


Steina & Woody Vasulka

– characteristic for their experimental approach and self-built ‘machinery’


Steina Vasulka

Violin power, interactive performance





Dick Raaijmakers




Ulrike Gabriel

Terrain (1993)

https://vimeo.com/7723230 (duits)

Interactive solar robot installation where two users sit facing each other, wearing interfaces of a brainwave detection system on their heads. Between the two is a round glass table where the solar robots live. The brain waves of the users are measured, analyzed and compared. The alteration in wave patterns determine the speed, behavior and the terrain areas of activity. The movement of the robots will be lively if the users minds are calm.

Terrain_01 was shown in the exhibition of DEAF94 in 1994.

Perceptual Arena (1994)

(vroege VR)

https://vimeo.com/47016333 (V2_)


Christina Kubisch

Electrical Walks


(from 3.30 on)

An introduction video to Christina Kubisch's "Electrical Walks" series of works. Electromagnetic radiations can be directly translated into the acoustic domain with the help of Christina Kubisch's custom made special headphones. Awesome sounds can be heard with the headphones everywhere near any electrical or electronical device or installation, particularly in the cities, where there density is growing daily. The "Electrical Walks" let everyone explore these hidden acoustic/electromagnetic world in various cities all over the world.



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