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10 Key Texts on New Media Art, 1970-2000


In contrast to other art fields, the short memory of digital art field is very short, while its long term memory is practically absent. As a result, many artists working with computers, as well as curators and critics who exhibit and write about these artists, keep reinventing the wheels over and over and over. And while other fields usually have certain critical / theoretical texts which are known to everybody and which usually act as starting points for the new arguments and debates, digital art field has nothing of a kind. No critical text on digital art so far has achieved a familiarity status that can be compared with the status of the classic articles by Clement Greenberg and Rosalind Krauss (modern art), or Andre Bazin and Laura Mulvey (film). So what does it mean to select “written works considered important to the history of digital art”? The field did produce many substantial texts that were important to it at particular historical points, but since these texts are not remembered, they have no bearings to its current development.

If you think that I am overstating my point, consider the following example. Think of important museum shows and their catalogs that act as key reference points in the field of modern art. How many among visitors to Bitsreams (The Whitney Museum, 2001) and 010101: Art in Technological Times (SFMOMA, 2001) knew that thirty years ago the major art museums in New York and London presented a whole stream shows on the topics of art and technology. Taken together, these shows were more radical and more conceptually interesting than the current attempts of art museums to come to terms with new media. Here are some of them: Cybernetic Serendipity (ICA, curated by Jasia Reichardt, 1968), The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age (MOMA, curated by K.G. Pontus Hulten, 1968), Software, Information Technology: its Meanng for Art (Jewish Museum, New York, curated by Jack Burnham, 1970), Information (MOMA, curated by Kynaston McShine, 1970), Art and Technology (LACMA, curated by Maurice Tuchman, 1970).

Article  2002