1The Complex and Multifarious Expressions of Digital Art and Its Impact on Archives and Humanities

Oliver Grau


Compared to traditional art forms—such as painting or sculpture—media art has more multifarious potential for expression and visualization; although underrepresented on the art market, which is driven by economic interests, it has become “the art of our time,” thematizing complex challenges for our life and societies, like genetic engineering (Anker and Nelkin 2003; Reichle 2005; Hauser 2008; Kac 2007), the rise of post-human bodies (Hershman-Leeson 2007), ecological crises1 (Cubitt 2005; Himmelsbach and Volkart 2007; Demos 2009; Borries 2011), the image and media revolution (Grau 2011; Mitchell 2011) and with it the explosion of human knowledge (Vesna 2007; Manovich 2011), the move toward virtual financial economies,2 and the processes of globalization3 and surveillance, to name just a few. Visually powerful, interactive media art, often supported by databases or the World Wide Web, is offering more and more freedom for creative expression and evidently is much better equipped to directly address the challenges of our complex times within the very medium that shapes them. Although it has been around for decades and has even quantitatively dominated many art schools, digital media art has not fully arrived in the core collecting institutions of our societies. Due to the lack of institutional support and rapid changes in storage and presentation media, works ...

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