martin pichlmair on Wed, 9 Nov 2005 14:39:24 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> a new definition


i still remember when i found out that what i used to call "media art" was
referred to as "new media art" in the u.s. where exactly (in terms of geography,
tradition and technology) is the border drawn?

google delivers some disillusioning opinions on new media: 

> The first two sentences can sound reasonable in the context of  
> media study,
> communicating that -- in the opinion of media study -- the New  
> Medium WWW and the
> New Medium Video Games have mass media potential. The following  
> very abstract
> "interactive media and other forms of multimedia" are meaningless  
> satellites of
> the term without any connection to mass media.
> But my problem with this definition is not that it is vague -- in  
> this case I'd
> edit it, replacing interactive media with "&nbsp;" and CD-Rom with  
> iPod. My
> problem is that this definition is irrelevant.
> Because New media does not "usually refer" to relatively recent  
> mass media. It
> does not "usually refer" to mass media discourse. It refers to the  
> digital medium:
> computer, computer networks. And unfortunately to "interactive  
> media and other
> forms of multimedia" when it comes to giving definitions.

as i mentioned before the bigger lack in definitions is that the term "media" is
not defined in wikipedia. were it settled we could use it to build a technical or
social definition of new media. i think the definition problem's origin is that
mcluhan and others always insisted on rather technical descriptions of media. or
at least they drew the line between one medium and the other on a technical basis.

boiling down "new media" to "digital media" is also technical - and quite

if you look at the definition of "new media art" you find the same: "New media art
(also known as media art) is a generic term used to describe art related to, or
created with, a technology invented or made widely available since the mid-20th
Century." (http://

in an older version the chasm is even more visible: "New Media Art is an umbrella
term which generically describes artwork that incorporates an element of new media
technology. New media technologies are defined as technologies that were invented,
or began integration into society from the mid 20th Century" (via http://

i would love to have media art embrace an element of a medium rather than of media
technology. but "new media" then still burns down to technology. be it as dull a
definition as the older version of the wikipedia entry shows.

outside new media studies, new media are broadly accepted to be technical
artefacts - just because a field of studies around the term was constructed does
not mean that the object of study is limited to the role of being an object of

>> Olia completely deleted it and replaced it with:
>> | New Media is the field of study that has developed around cultural
>> | practices with the computer playing a central role as the medium  
>> for
>> | production, storage and distribution.
>> |
>> | New Media studies reflect on the social and ideological impact  
>> of the
>> | personal computer, computer networks, digital mobile devices,  
>> ubiquitous
>> | computing and virtual reality. The study includes researchers and
>> | propagators of new forms of artistic practices such as interactive
>> | installations, net art, software art, the subsets of interaction,
>> | interface design and the concepts of interactivity, multimedia and
>> | remediation.
> [...]
>> The whole entry, IMHO, is based on a confusion of the term "new  
>> media"
>> with "new media studies" and should have been a separate article with
>> the according title.
> It is not a confusion, it is my statement, that the term New Media  
> as a name for a
> field of studies is the only meaningful appearance of this term.
> When it comes to artistic or design practices, terms like "digital  
> culture",
> "mobile computing", "net art", "interface design" or even "information
> architecture" describe precisely the field of activity.
> "New media artist", "New media worker", "New media design" are  
> quite blurry terms.
> At the same time New Media department of an academy, New Media  
> Reader, New Media
> teacher are reasonable constructions, because they are associated  
> with a maturing
> study, that is btw not at all a subdivision of Media Studies.
> New Media is not a perfect name for a study as well. But it has  
> some adequate
> properties I mentioned in the wikipedia article*.
> And again, as I wrote in my last nettime message, my intention is  
> that the term
> shrinks.
> It was quite embarrassing to watch the Refresh conference** and see  
> how curators
> and theoreticians are again and again fantasizing on what is New  
> Media and how new
> it is, and what is old (as if the term New Media contains in itself  
> an implication
> to other, not digital media to unite under an "Old Media" banner --  
> but this is
> another topic).
> After watching Refresh streams I looked in The Language of New  
> Media book for the
> definition -- it was not there. I looked in New Media Reader. The  
> Term was not
> defined. I looked in Wikipedia -- after you know (see the beginning  
> of the
> message).

in my opinion the way out is:

- write a wikipedia entry on "media"
- revive the wikipedia article florian defends but make clear it  
talks about "new media technology" rather than all aspects of "new  
media" by giving it that name
- put olia's article under "new media studies"
- put a disambiguation page up under the term "new media" enabling  
the reader to either proceed to "new media technology", "new media  
art" or "new media studies"

> Thank you for your time

first time for a long while i feel the urge to post to nettime plus  
edit wikipedia. i have to thank you.


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: