Media Art Explores Image Histories: New Tools For Our Field

Speaker: 
Oliver Grau
Dates: 
Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 10:45 - 11:45
The evolution of media art has a long history and now a new technological variety has appeared. However, this art cannot be fully understood without its history; "depth of field" analyses of images can play an important role in facilitating our political and aesthetic analysis of the present.

The video documentation of Oliver Grau's keynote speech Media Art Explores Image Histories: New Tools For Our Field at ISEA2011 is available online in five parts. Please click on the the following links for Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

Media Arts landscape of recent years is being increasingly seized by a phenomenon which has yet not received any significant research, classification or analysis: the use of historic media configurations as an integrated part of contemporary media art installations: Internationally renowned artists like William KENTRIDGE, Olafur ELIASSON, Zoe BELOFF, Jeffrey SHAW, Maurice BENAYOUN, Rafael LOZANO-HAMMER create optical experiments, panoramas, phantasmagoria, perspective theaters, camera obscura, anamorphoses, magic lanterns, etc.

In our most recent present artists venture in a reflective manner towards new measurements of the complex status of seeing - this is the core of the investigation and includes perception, reception and cognition as well as the process of creating images. The images' historical development between innovation, reflection and iconoclasm reaches in the 21st century a new level of global complexity. In the "mine of media history" and the history of image techniques new thinking spaces (Denkraum) are created through new interfaces, displays, hard- and software configurations, often engaging viewers in a form of playful, creative combination.

Based on impulses from the history of perception, media artists today develop emancipatory strategies, which need to be described and analyzed. What is the significance to the aforementioned artists, on the one hand through quotation, reference and analytic comments, and on the other hand by means of aesthetic distancing, in regard to the media revolution of the last decade(s)? In which way does the perception of the viewer becomes driven, captured, "misled" or vice versa uplifted and "emancipated"?

The evolution of media art has a long history and now a new technological variety has appeared. However, this art cannot be fully understood without its history; "depth of field" analyses of images can play an important role in facilitating our political and aesthetic analysis of the present.

Not only in support of this research, we need also to start a concerted international strategy to protect existing MediaArt Database Projects and help to develop international collective documentation and preservation strategies. Similar to how research is facilitated in reputable natural science labs in astronomy, biology or climatology through access to common data, the digital cross-linking of the humanities through the creation of common data pools would allow the undertaking of new globally relevant questions for our society, which till now has not been possible and difficult to realize. Additionally: Captivating new visualisation tools could provide access to the BREATH of digital cultural production: Coupled with the depth of historical optical media, new unpredictable understandings of today's image revolution can be enabled.

Bio

Grau lectured in numerous parts of the world, received various awards and is widely published (12 languages). Recent works include Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion (MIT-Press 2003), Mediale Emotionen (Fischer, 2005), MediaArtHistories (MIT-Press 2007) and Imagery of the 21st Century (MIT-Press 2011).

Currently Grau is Chair Professor at the Department for Image Science which develops lifelong learning programs in MediaArtHistories, Image Science, Crossmedia, Exhibit Design, Digital Collection Management

He was head of the German Science Foundation project Immersive Art, whose team since 1999 developed the first international Database of Digital Art: www.virtualart.at now based at Danube University. Grau directs as well the development of the Database of the Graphic Collection Goettweig, Austrias largest private graphic collection, which contains 30.000 masterprints from Duerer to Klimt: www.gssg.at

Grau is an advisory board member of numerous international journals (e.g. zB. IMAGES, Journal for Visual Studies, International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, IJArt Journal, International Journal of Art and Technology, Second Nature, Ekfrase) and was elected as member of the Academy of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Oliver Grau was chair of Refresh! First International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science, and Technology, Banff 2005.