Digitalizing space in art
January 19, 2011 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Is digital technology changing the way we perceive space?

It's been said that mirrors and the evolution and dissemination of Mathematics lead to the creation of perspective in the art of Renaissance, and that Relativism lead to Cubism.

I was wondering if there are theories that explore the idea that digital technology is affecting the way we perceive space and/or represent space in art.

I'm curious to know what Mefites think, but it also be great to get pointers to theorists and writers who are thinking about this.
posted by TheGoodBlood to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you haven't read him, you want Marshall McLuhan: Understanding Media. It's the base from which every other media theorist thinks about digital technology.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:00 PM on January 19, 2011


Also: anecdotes. Art related ones even better.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 4:12 PM on January 19, 2011


Yeah, due to the iphone, gps, tablets, etc, you can actually think of space as set of coordinates to which data is attached -- try walking around with the yelp monocle on or the wikipedia augmented reality apps, or just using GPS.

See augmented reality.
posted by empath at 5:53 PM on January 19, 2011


Also, things like Kinect, point cloud cameras, and 3d motion capture are probably going to make the way images are stored be closer to the way the mind actually remembers things -- as 3d objects in 3d space, not as a 2d representation on a flat plane.
posted by empath at 5:57 PM on January 19, 2011


I have a strong feeling that digital technology has contributed to the rise of the installation as an artistic form/medium.

And, of course, digital media are artistic forms/movements/etc. in and of themselves. Things like video art and (a lot of) sound art probably couldn't exist without at least the sort of electronic media that was around in the 70's and 80's. See also Anderson, Laurie.

Richard Serra is also a good example - the bulk of his work would not be possible without CAD. Entire shapes exist now that were not possible 50 years ago.
posted by Sara C. at 6:01 PM on January 19, 2011


thanks, empath, those are great examples.

Sara, yeah, I never thought of Serra as a digital media sort of guy, but you're right.

I was mostly thinking about perception -- how playing Katamari Damacy or first-person shooter games makes you feel momentarily like you're still playing when you go out. How's that perception translated in [artistic] representation, even in traditional media?

If I am not clear is because I don't know how to name the concepts I am dealing with.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 6:49 PM on January 19, 2011


I believe immersion is the first term you'll want to investigate. The blog linked there deals with this question and points to a lot of academic literature one the subject.
posted by Lifeson at 8:54 PM on January 19, 2011


Yes. Space is now irrelevant in the construction of art. And at least in video and sound, one no longer has to correct for the limited technology in order to suspend disbelief. CGI can make things look just as real as if they were a recording.

Digital has also reduced the need for technical competence and mastery in the medium. One bad pound of a hammer in a sculpture and you have to start over. With digital, you just click undo.

It raises the average quality of art-like creations, and minimizes the difference between great art and average. Part of the wonder of art is awe of the artist at being able to do what seems impossible. When anything is possible, the effect is diminished.

(Not that there isn't work involved, but I think most people under or over estimate what kind of effort is required to make something in the digital world. My (fictional) grandmother would be bubblingly effusive at the idea that I can generate perfect, mistake-free letters with the computer-machine, while being completely unimpressed by the hours of work I put into scanning and repairing all the old photos.)

I was mostly thinking about perception -- how playing Katamari Damacy or first-person shooter games makes you feel momentarily like you're still playing when you go out. How's that perception translated in [artistic] representation, even in traditional media?

One thing is that it is now possible to see the world as the artist sees it, in three (or four) dimensions. I've always been unimpressed with 3D games, because the creators' perception of things doesn't match my own. But, on the other hand, now I know how they see the world. Put a camera on a chicken's head, and record a movie of it wandering around the yard. You get an immersion into the chicken's experience that is simply (or nearly) unimaginable, and was impossible until digital technology.
posted by gjc at 7:08 AM on January 20, 2011


I've always been unimpressed with 3D games, because the creators' perception of things doesn't match my own.

Elaborate on this?
posted by empath at 7:10 AM on January 20, 2011


Thanks, Lifeson, I'll look into immersion.

Interesting points, gjc. Like empath, I'm curious about that idea and would love to hear more.

I was just thinking that the way to put this is ask, is there a paradigm shift in representation, like there was with the invention of perspective in painting or the Modernist deconstruction of the figurative image?
posted by TheGoodBlood at 8:15 AM on January 20, 2011


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