New Media Arts, as ‘artistic research and development’ between artistic, medial and techno-scientific discourses, is research-based and practice-led. It does not produce ‘final products’ but ‘process artefacts’.
Henk Borgdorff states that “research and development are intimately entwined” (44), and thematises the importance of documentation and dissemination (58). Since media arts finally matured new media channels evolved as well: the question remains, where the advocacy and the audience for new media arts resides? There still is “no market, no galleries, few curators and critics, and no audience” (Lovink) – at least for an art market in a traditional sense. Also, the term “New Media Arts” is somewhat outdated to describe a contemporary practice of new media researchers/artists.
In the age of “Kontrollverlust” (Seemann) a change of reception/perception of audiences can be observed – still, through multiple, diverse channels of consumption and participation, the creation of attention and user-engagement is crucial to New Media Arts. In this sense, previous descriptions of the term have to be extended regarding ‘attention economies’, and in this context be examined in terms of their interactions with phenomena such as ‘real-time media’ and ‘real-time participation’.
With the “query public” (Seemann), we have to radically rethink the concept of the public: artists as researchers find a transforming and ever-changing media situation. Artistic research can be faster than scientific research and can react much more directly to current social and technological developments. Still, new artistic practices are often misunderstood and there have been many attempts made to move artistic innovations to creative commonplaces such as R&D labs or the advertising industry. While media art-works often show high technological potential, it is criticised if this is the only characteristic (Nordmann). New Media Arts produce “artistic technologies” (Nowotny) and not “economic technologies” – to stress a more strict distinction from the creative industries.
A distinct profile for critical new media practice is needed to generate awareness and respect for that field, since a non-popular artwork does not necessarily mean ‘market failure’. Media artworks are cultural products (and processes) that force the “production and circulation of symbolic ideas” (Galloway and Dunlop), and therefore do not need a market as such. Richard Florida is right when stating “human creativity is the ultimate economic resource” (xiii), but there is a different meaning for the terms ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ when contextualised within art system or economic system. In times when ‘creativity’ becomes a replacement for the term ‘art’ (Raunig and Wuggenig), we have to rethink what we call New Media Arts, remembering that culture should not only be merely valued for its economic contribution.
Borgdorff, Henk. “The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research.” The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts. Ed. Biggs and Karlsson. New York: Routledge, 2010. 44-63. Print
Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure and Everyday Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2002. Print.
Lovink, Geert. “New Media, Art and Science” (2005). Web. 24 Nov. 2011. <http://laudanum.net/geert/files/1129753681/>
Seemann, Michael. “Vom Kontrollverlust zur Filtersouveränität.” Digitale Intimität, die Privatsphäre und das Netz – #public_life, Berlin: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, 2011. Print
Nordmann, Alfred. “Experiment Zukunft – Die Künste im Zeitalter der Technowissenschaften” Künstlerische Forschung, subtexte03. Zürich: Institute for the Performing Arts and Film Zürich, 2009. Print
Nowotny, Helga. “Foreword.” The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts. Ed. Biggs and Karlsson. New York: Routledge, 2010. Print
Galloway, Susan and Dunlop, Stewart. Deconstructing the concept of ‘Creative Industries’. Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2006. Print
Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure and Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books, 2002. Print
Raunig, Gerald & Wuggenig, Ulf. “Kritik der Kreativität. Vorbemerkungen zur erfolgreichen Wiederaufnahme des Stücks Kreativität.” Kritik der Kreativität. Ed. Raunig and Wuggenig. Berlin: Turia+Kant, 2007. Print