Lecture 12: Why make?

In this final lecture of the series, I am going to draw together themes together from where we began in MEDA at the beginning of the year.

In the first lecture in MEDA101, I invited you to join me in tackling the question: What is media arts? Today, I will propose that media arts is one of the critical areas to be engaged with today.

I will do this by asking why we do what we do, contextualising this question by looking at the contemporary media landscape.

Download lecture slides.

Guest Lecture: Newell Harry

Newell Harry, Circles in the Round, 2010

Newell Harry, Circles in the Round, 2010

In week 11, we are very pleased to welcome artist Newell Harry for a guest lecture in MEDA102. Newell’s works have been exhibited widely in Australia as well as internationally. His work was chosen to be exhibited in All the World’s Futures at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Newell works with diverse materials and across disciplines that comment on phenomena in contemporary society with particular attention paid to intercultural exchanges. His current projects play with language, code, and the archives.

MEDA102 lecture is scheduled on Thursday from 12.30 – 1.30 in G.01 Building 233. All welcome.

You can find out more about Newell’s works at the Roslyn Oxley Gallery website.

Lecture 10: Media Materiality and Aesthetics

This week we ask the question whether media has material quality. Digital media and codes in particular are intangible (they cannot be touch), so how can we talk about their material conditions? How do codes manifest in the physical world and what are the possibilities? What kind of experiences can be constructed using intangible media forms?

Download lecture10_slides

Lecture 09: Mitchell Whitelaw

For week 9’s lecture, please watch this video of Mitchell Whitelaw’s presentation at UOW. His presentation is titled: “Data and Landscape: Mashups and Matters of Concern”

This talk introduces Drifter, a new work investigating the representation of landscape through its digital traces in cultural and scientific archives. Drifter develops a dense, multilayered portrait of the Murrumbidgee catchment, drawing on tens of thousands of data-points including maps, images, scientific observations, and digitised news articles. Rather than reduce or data-mine this mass, Drifter takes a generative approach, colliding its fragments to spark fleeting insights and moments of clarity, beauty and mourning.
This work departs from Bethany Nowviskie’s account of digital humanities in the Anthropocene, and specifically our urgent need to grapple with what Tim Morton calls “hyperobjects” – entities “massively distributed in time and space”. It also draws on Bruno Latour’s notion of matters of concern: phenomena that cannot be framed as either natural (scientific “matter of fact”) or strictly social. Matters of concern are complex networks characterised by “entganglement, dependence and care.” Latour asks designers: “where are the visualisation tools” for matters of concern? With the river system as a matter of concern, this work attempts a response.
In doing so Drifter adopts the strategies of the mashup, a genre that I will argue has much to offer in tackling the sticky complexity of a hyperobject. In mashups play, performance and juxtaposition are central, and heterogeneous domains collide through the (troublesome) mediation of digital data. The mashup is generative, rather than summative: it sparks unforeseen collisions and connections, and happily straddles different epistemological regimes. It also emphasises staging or performing data, making it felt as well as known; for as Latour points out we’re all entangled here, and detachment is no longer an option.

Lecture 08: Data Materialisation

[Opening sequence for the film Stranger than Fiction. Directed by: MK12; Produced by The Ebeling Group]

Data visualisation is an encompassing field that crosses diverse areas from graphic design to medical research, from formulating business strategies to shaping government policies, from journalism to infrastructure planning, from art to political actions.

In this lecture, I will explore what I deem to be at the heart of the practice of turning data into meaningful information by delineating the different contexts that influence and shape this practice. I do so by introducing the thoughts of a number of theorists and practitioners that illuminate this complex field including Edward Tufte, Lev Manovich and Mitchell Whitelaw.

We will examine a number of artworks that approach data and its transformation in different ways. In doing so, we speculate on the possibilities for using the computational media as a tool to explore the world around us.

Download Lecture08_slides.

Lecture 5: Algorithm and Computation

As we dive into Processing in week 5, we continue to explore algorithms found in nature, in the everyday as well as in art.

In the past lectures, we discussed the contingencies of technologies not only in terms of limitations, but more importantly as historical or sociocultural circumstances that have shaped technologies and the way we use them (remember the typewriter). This lecture furthers our exploration into digital materiality through understanding its medium – the code.

Lecture slides are here: 16_MEDA102_lecture05_slides

Lecture/ Workshop 04: Excursion to the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Stills from Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto, 2015

In week 4 on Thursday 18 August, MEDA102 will on an excursion to the Art Gallery of New South Wales to visit the Manifesto exhibition by Julian Rosefeldt.

Please meet in the foyer of the Art Gallery at 10.00 if you are in the morning class and 2.30 if you are in the afternoon class. It is envisaged that the excursion will take around 2 hours. Excursion details, maps and directions below. Continue reading

Lecture 03: Art, Craft and Technology

In week 3’s lecture, we will continue our exploration of contingencies of media (medium) by focus on two development in modern art history: post-object art and conceptual art.

We take the cultural impact of technological mass production as our departure point and ask: What is the value of art in the epoch of technical reproducibility? What does art look like when it is freed from representation and from object forms? We select two responses to examine: Fluxus’s and Sol LeWitt’s. Specifically, what does Lewitt means by the statement ‘The idea becomes a machine that makes the art’? What are the various processes that can abstract an image, structure, or action  and compress into sets of instructions, written language, or algorithms?

This paves the way for us to explore the central theme of the subject: how iteration, repetition and variation function in everyday, in computational programming, and in art making. The lecture also introduces Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto which we will visit in week 4.

Dowload Lecture 3 slides

Lecture 02: Machine Thinking

Pages from Typewriter Art: A Modern Anthology by Barrie Tullett, featuring Alan Riddell “‘o’ from The Seasons Suite, a serial visual poem”, 1975-76.

In week 2’s lecture we will explore machine thinking through the working relation between humans and machines. Specifically, we will examine the concept of contingencies as a key decisive factor in determining the social value of technologies. We will centre our enquiry around the 1968 Cybernetics Serendipity exhibition in thinking through how art has engaged with contingencies of technologies and systems in generating different kinds of experience as well as future visions of human-machine collaborations.

Download lecture slides: 16_MEDA102_lecture02_slides.pdf

Lecture01: Overview on Creative coding

Cover of Douglas Rushkoff’s book Program or be Programmed.

Welcome to MEDA102. This first lecture introduces the subject, its learning objectives, expected learning outcomes, structure and rationale. We explore what is computational media and why it is important (possibly one of the most significant things) to learn and get to grips with today. We will focus on Douglas Rushkoff’s argument in Program or Be Programmed and pose some questions of our own.

Downlaod Lecture01 slides (2.8Mb)