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A Companion to Digital Art by Christiane Paul

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22 One of Us!: On the Coupling of New Media Art and Art Institutions

Richard Rinehart

New media art is marrying into the family of the artworld. Is she marrying for the family name? To plunder the estate? Or is she merely wife number seven in a weary harem? Before we get to these questions, it will be helpful to define one of our subjects, “new media art.” For my purposes here, new media art denotes something that is clear at the center, but blurry at the edges. At the center of new media art lies art for which computation is essential and inextricable. This understanding usually denotes works that employ computation as idea and material and in production and presentation. The definition blurs at its borders where it overlaps with conceptual, performance, installation, social practice art and other art forms that became more prevalent after the 1960s. This blurring is not only acceptable; it is essential to understanding how the implications and challenges of new media art (including those covered below) ripple throughout the larger artworld. Are these boundaries stable? That question is exactly what I would like to investigate here. This essay will be less about how new media art developed in relation to other art practices—how it fits into the history of art—and more about ongoing shifts in the interface between new media art and the discipline of art history, the museum, and other institutions that make up the artworld. I am especially curious about the current state ...

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