<< preface

this blog is nina wenhart's collection of resources on the various histories of new media art. it consists mainly of non or very little edited material i found flaneuring on the net, sometimes with my own annotations and comments, sometimes it's also textparts i retyped from books that are out of print.

it is also meant to be an additional resource of information and recommended reading for my students of the prehystories of new media class that i teach at the school of the art institute of chicago in fall 2008.

the focus is on the time period from the beginning of the 20th century up to today.

>> search this blog


>> Casey Reas


"I like to manifest the software in different media because each media gives me some sort of different way of presenting a thought or a concept. When presenting the software as running software, as interactive software, it allows me to explore the domain of response. Doing it as a print allows me to explore a new level of materiality and tactile quality, which is not possible in screen based media. All the work that is being shown here explores being able not to have control over the machine. So, in essence, it's the same software but each media gives me a different way of exploring a piece of code."

a bit further down:

"Perhaps one of your more ambitious projects is Processing, which is also featured here at Ars Electronica. It's a programming language and software environment that you are developing with Ben Fry. When and why did you start this project?

We began 2 years ago, I guess, actually, I have been programming for 5 years then. Ha-ha... time flies! Ben and I are both teachers doing all our work in software and we are really frustrated with the current software environments that exist for doing this kind of work. Nobody has really designed a software environment for working in the way that we like to work, so that's why we started building it. We always worked in software environments like C, C++, Java, and OpenGL. These environments are too complex. They're trying to do everything so they're just massively difficult to use. And what we need is just something that is specifically tailored for the work that we want to do. So in our language for example, we have a simpler and better control over color than any other programming language that I have ever seen before. So it's specifically designed for the things we find important.

An artistic tool?
Yes, it's specifically made for what we call electronic arts. Oh, and it's very good for connecting electronics to computers as well. So you're able to connect a camera or connect two computers together.

Is it possible to learn without any previous programming knowledge?
It has three different learning levels. In the most basic layer you're able to type in just a few lines of code and see a result, and the next layer there's a slightly larger structure that allows you to do things that are responsive and things that can be animated. And then, in the third layer, you are actually programming in Java itself. We taught a lot of workshops were we had people who had never learned to program before and after just two weeks they were doing really nice works. Another really important thing about the language is that we have designed it slowly over 2 years, and we have always been teaching with it and using it personally the whole time, so it grows very organically.

I heard Golan Levin quote John Maeda, saying something like "When you use other people's software you live in somebody else's dream". Do you recognize the quote? - Are 'processing users' living in your dream?

I don't know this quote directly, but it makes sense. There are many levels of software from the general to the specific. As software becomes more specific, it limits the possibilities. Processing is very general and doesn't put many constraints on the possibilities of software. In many respects Processing is living in the dream of Java and OpenGL. It's more a collage of ideas than a specific revolution…"

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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.