Electronic Visions: Introducing New Media Art – Newport School of Art, Media & Design


Introducing Digital and Dynamic Media Art – Dr Nick Lambert


New Media and digital art has developed in a range of practices and discourses during its relatively brief history (usually considered to start around 1950). In that time, certain key questions have emerged around digital art and many influential artists have emerged in this field. This module explores the rich history of this area, identifies some of these major themes, and considers how New Media work differs from – and connects to – its forebears.


This module aims to:

General Reading

Week 1 – Course Introduction

The scope of this course, the types of artforms covered and their special characteristics, the new issues that museums and galleries have to deal with in collecting and presenting this work, and major theoretical aspects.

Week 2 – Technology in Art and technological artforms from the 17th to 20th centuries

From before the start of the 20th century artists were seeking ways to combine movement, colour, sound and technology into new artworks. The area known as Abstract Animation continues to be influential, whilst the works of Duchamp and Calder inspired a new area called Kinetic Art. At the same time, members of the Bauhaus and elsewhere imagined purely mechanised forms of art.

Week 3 – Experiments in Art and Technology: Science plus Art

The post-World War II period saw a dramatic increase in all forms of technological art, driven by new developments in audio, video, computers and control mechanisms. A convergence of artistic and industrial interests brought together groups like Experiments in Art & Technology and IRCAM. Though never lacking in controversy, these groups and individual artists like Nicolas Schoeffer produced some highly successful large-scale works and inspired many to follow them.

Week 4 – Computer Graphics and Interaction: a history of the technology

Almost from its inception, computer technologists proposed real-time interfaces for this new medium. The development of computer art has both followed and informed the technologies of image display and image creation, and more recent multimedia developments. This lecture examines the underlying technology, both hardware and software.

Week 5 – Computer Art and Digital Art Practices

A special instance of Art & Technology was the concept of using computers to generate or control artworks. Drawing extensively on Cybernetics, which had emerged as a theory in the late 1940s, a disparate group of artists sought to harness the primitive but increasingly pervasive computer technology of the 1960s. These pioneers laid the basis not merely for modern digital art but also for the entire area of computer graphics technology as it stands today.

Although the first phase of Computer Art faded out in the mid-1970s, artists began using computers in a variety of practices after cheap, powerful desktops became available. Due to the computer’s inherent flexibility, a range of art found expression in the digital medium including: photomontage; 3D design; computer animation; digital film; networked and telematic art; interactive sculpture; audio-visual installations; and virtual reality. All these practices emerged somewhat independently but all are linked by their reliance on digital tools and environments.

Week 6 – Art and the Internet

As foreseen by Roy Ascott and other artists from a cybernetic background, the worldwide network of computers that was first called the ARPANET and then the Internet had important consequences for art. People across the globe could interact both textually and visually in real-time, coordinate their activities and contribute to collaborative works of art. Interaction and collaboration remain the cornerstones of Net Art but increasingly it is moving into the physical realm via portable Internet devices and the increase in real-world data input (webcams, social websites, etc.)

Week 7 – Guidelines for Writing the Critical Essay

Examines the structure of the essay and developing the content

Week 8 – An Outline of the History of Art

Week 9 – Physical aspects of Cyberspace: Augmented Reality and new fabrication technologies.

Week 10 – The Computer Art Debate

Artistand theorists comment on the status of computer art and whether other cultural forms like video games can be considered as “art” per se.

Week 11 – Revision

Important! – Guide to Harvard Referencing
Guide to Harvard Referencing

The Essay

Module IT2 ‘Interaction Theory’ Brief

Submission Date & Time Wednesday 26th Jan 2010, 11am.

Online via the MLE


You are required to research and produce (1) an illustrated 2000 word essay supported with (2) a supporting annotated digital research document on the following question:

“What can contemporary digital artists learn from ‘traditional’ fine art practice?”

Your essays must be well researched and argued and you must ensure that they are correctly referenced and acknowledged to avoid the risk of plagiarism. See the library website for guidance on using the University’s Harvard format. You should include suitable referenced imagery to support your arguments, cited within your essay.

The supporting research document should show a range of materials you looked at (but not necessarily used within the paper). They should be referenced and annotated, describing your interest in them and their relevance to the subject area.

NOTE: You essays must draw their research from a variety of sources – research based solely on web URLS will not be permissible – Although information from web URLs are allowable they must be supported with research from books, journals, TV, radio – plus any additional sources you can think of.  You may only make use of 10 web URLS in your research and final essay – anymore than this and your work may be penalised by subtracting marks from your final grade.

You will be required to present your arguments in-progress, to module tutors and your peer group, at theory seminar sessions during the semester. You are expected to engage fully in the process of feedback and constructive criticism.