We see so resolutely from our own perspective. How can we do otherwise?
Digital art is all interface, defined entirely by the experience of its viewing or use. So say Bolter and Gromala on page 11 of their new book, writing as a critic-theorist and a curator, though Gromala is also an artist. I might describe digital art the same way, because this is how I experience it. I’m a user, I’m the audience, I’m a critic. (Mind you, a lot of digital art fails to (if it even tries to) convey anything interesting in its interface, you need the surrounding texts and explanations. Other digital art has a content that is not simply the interface, but is a story, for instance, or images. I find the interface and the way the user relates to the work immensely interesting (it’s what my PhD thesis is about, basically) but there are other sides of digital art as well. But this post is about absolute defintions, not nuances.)
A few weeks ago, at Martin and Mattias‘s dinner, a digital artist defined digital in almost exactly the opposite way to Bolter and Gromala. Ellen R¯ed works with real time video, programming software “instruments” that she plays in performance, so video images distort, move, dance, disturb across the screen the audience is watching.
Digital art is all about the process, she said. What the audience end up seeing is nothing but the waste materials (slaggproduktene) that are left over. As a member of her audience, I feel rather offended at a definition like that. If the artwork is the process, shouldn’t the process be somehow communicated? But this definition doesn’t see art as communication.
I wonder if you could write an academic paper without a single definition or claim in it, and for that paper to still be good, useful, productive? Do you know of writing like that? Or is the very idea a tautology?