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From Technological to Virtual Art
Frank Popper
MIT Press, 2005
504 pages
ISBN: 026216230X

Will be published July 2005 ... awaited with excitement. August. Still not published. November ... it will be nothing this year ... (one year later.) October 02006 ... and it still isn't out. February 2007 I have it in my hands ... now i only need time to read it. June 2008 ... here we go.

From the Introduction:
"This book is based on three ideas. The first concerns the hypothesis that contemporary virtual art can be considered a new and refined version of technological art [...]. As such, virtual art represents a new departure - new in terms of its humanisation of technology, its emphasis on interactivity, its philosophical attitude towards the real and the virtual, and its multisensorial outlook.
The second idea posits that the artists practising virtual art, although having quite a few traits in common with more traditional artists, distinguish themselves from them in may ways, especially through their techno-aesthetic creative commitment. Presumably, some of these characteristic features can already be found in a number of early-twentieth-century forerunners.
Third, I think that virtual artists generally pursue - apart from, or rather linked with, aesthetic finalities - a certain number of extra-artistic goals that appear to be of a scientific or social order, but that are in fact also concerned with basic human needs and drives"

Frank Popper's definition of virtual art:
Virtual art is signified by multi-sensorial interfaces between the computer and the human body which permitted us to become immersed in images and to interact with them. From an aesthetic point of view virtual art was an artistic interpretation of "some contemporary issues" that not only used technology but that integrated or combined technology into the artwork by an "aesthetic-technological logic of creation that form[ed] the essential part of the specificity of the virtual artwork[s]."

NOTE: Why doesn't he speak of "conceptual" here? All this talk about "interpretation,' "aesthetics, "specificity" and "technological logic" ...? Isn't the essence of good virtual art that its form and function are conceived in a conceptual idea? How this is done essentially lies in the "conceptual approach." That its maker through an initial idea, research, knowledge, intuition, experience, contemplation and iteratively refined making? Popper avoids speaking of "creativity" or "concept" but instead emphasises "technical" and "aesthetical" aspects.

His method of analysis is different distinguishing between a technical and an aesthetical component.
p. 4 technical: From materialised digital works over multimedia online works to interactive digital installations.
aesthetical: From cognitive works over telematic/robotics to extra-aesthetic works: political, economic, biological or other scientific topics. Significant was that they we distanced, had an emphasis on the aesthetic context and aesthetic finality; Which explained "the globalised open-endedness of virtual works." From a perspective of a critique of modernism the works were a rejection of stylistic anarchism and historical traditionalism. Popper's criteria for selecting the examples: where "technology is humanised through art."

Conceptual models:
Globally we needed conceptual models with which to think differently or connective models that were not completed or inverted objectivity of common conceptions.

Humanist values:
Popper's humanist values in the age of virtualism: Not linked to Greece or Rome but concerned about basic human needs and personal achievements also including universal issues.
p. 3 "Virtual art could in fact impact in a critical and prospective way on globalisation"

art of the electronic age
Frank Popper
Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1997
192 pages
ISBN: 0500279187

Finally someone that manages to make the connection between classic "History of the arts" and digital art or media arts. Very interesting.

1 The Roots of Electronic Art
2 Laser and Holographic Art
3 Video Art
4 Computer Art
5 Communication Art
6 Art, Nature and Science
7 Social and Aesthetic Implications of the Art of the Electronic Age

p.126 "in this type of event, it is not the exchanged content that matters, but rather the network that is activated and the functional conditions of the exchange. The aesthetic object is replaced be the immateriality of the field tensions and by vital and organic energy. [...] Finally, the event activates a new phenomenology of virtual, deffered, or remote presence and evokes a feeling of the Kantian ' sublime', a sense of truly inexpressible awe."

deKerckhove: "a new spatial sensibility arises from communication arts. Radio, telephone and computers are "psychotechnologies", extensions of our mind that have global significance."

p.134 Adrian: "the content is the contact", "natural phenomena" art.

p.177 "Art no longer means the production of artifacts of a painterly or electronic nature - but rather the discovery of the inner logic of a digital world view."

Origins and Development of Kinetic Art
Frank Popper
Studio Vista 1968
256 pages
ISBN: 0289795923

Part I
1 Movement and the Impressionist generation
2 Movement in the Post-impressionist era
3 Movement in the arts around
4 Movement in the age of surrealism and geometrical abstraction

Part II
5 The origins of kinetic art: virtual movement
6 Three-dimensional works in movement
7 Light and movement
8 Recent developments in kinetic art

Part III
9 The typology of movement: simple procedures for the expression of movement in the plastic arts
10 Sketch for an aesthetic of movement

Very thourough, detailed, insightful and comprehensive overview upon the history of movement in the arts and especially kinetic art. Full of surprising insights (for me) and new names and works. It is all about context and it is important to be aware of the history and traditions.

p.158 "'morphologically analogous' writes Etienne Souriau." writes Popper. If this was 1912 then it is 55 years earlier then "transformation" in "Cybernetic Serendipity" and 88 years earlier then Manovich's "mapping media from one domain to another."

p. 204 "The English artist Roy Ascott provides an interesting basis of comparison with the work of Lacroix and the Fusion of the Arts group. In Ascott's view, the trend towards applications which involve all the senses and combine features of artistic genres which were formerly separate, can be explained in terms of the growth of a 'Cybernetic vision'. He writes: 'Modern art is characterized by a behaviourist tendency in which process and system are cardinal factors. As distinctions between music, painting, poetry etc. become blurred and media are mixed, a behaviourist synthesis is seen to evolve, in which dialogue and feedback within a social culture indicate the emergence of Cybernetic vision in art as in science'. His theories were effectively deomonstrated in the retrospective exhibition of his work, entitled Ideas and Edges, which took place at the Laing Art Gallery. Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1968.

last update: 4/20/02010 15:48

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