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Media Art

Media art, sometimes referred to as new media art, is a contemporary art genre that integrates technology, multimedia, and digital elements into its production or presentation. Artists working in media art employ diverse mediums such as video, audio, computer-generated imagery, virtual reality, interactive installations, and other digital technologies to pursue their subject matter. With the extensive possibilities of technology as a creative tool, media artists often challenge traditional notions of art, engaging with contemporary dialogues such as globalization, identity, and politics. Other media artists concentrate on the materials themselves rather than focusing on technology as a subject matter.

Nam June Paik
Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, 1995
Fifty-one channel video installation (including one closed-circuittelevision feed), custom electronics, neon lighting, steel, wood,color, and sound
457.2 x 1219.2 x 121.92 cm (180 x 480 x 48 in.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.
© Nam June Paik Estate

Known as “the father of video art” and an early member of the Fluxus movement, Nam June Paik was at the forefront of applying groundbreaking technologies in his work that established the foundation for artists working in media art today. Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii is a seminal work that demonstrates Paik’s practice both in his use of media and his interpretation of the world in the digital age. This immersive installation reflects Paik's unique perspective on a diverse nation, as seen through the lens of media technology.

*One DVD player (now media players are used) can transmit more than one output, meaning one DVD player can create two or more channels. One DVD player does not necessarily mean there is only one channel connected to it. In the case of Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, the work is made up of 50 DVD players that are transmitted to 51 channels, shown on 336 television monitors.

Working with video, film, installation, photography, and writing, Hito Steyerl is one of the most influential media artists today. Steyerl employs cinematic installations with documentary film techniques, speculative fiction, and first-person narrative to grasp the complex role of technology in surveillance, globalization, and capitalism, among other contemporary issues that raise questions about authenticity and representation. One of the best-known works by Steyerl is How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational. MOV File. It is a video installation that reflects the relationship between modern technology and the lack of political visibility experienced by marginalized communities.

Hito Steyerl
How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File,2013
Video, color, sound (14:00)
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds
© 2023 Hito Steyerl

Media art is constantly evolving and continues to test boundaries and develop alongside advancements in technology, including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI). Rachel Rossin, a New York-based multimedia artist, and self-taught programmer synthesizes traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture with VR and AR, exploring the intersection of the hyper-real and the imaginary. By combining painting with cutting-edge technologies, Rossin examines the function of technology both as a philosophical question and as a factor that dictates the viewer’s experience in the exhibition space.

Related categories

Mixed Media

Computer Art

Installation

Digital/Internet Culture

Avant-garde

Animation/Cartoon/Comic Books

Transformation

Site-specific Installation

Film/Video Art

Sound Installation

Multidisciplinary Approach

Art and Technology

Reality and Fiction

Virtual Reality

Narrative Art

Reality and Fantasy / Illusion / Imagination

Digital Collage

Time/Space

Video Game

Digital Art

High Technology

(Inspired by) Technology

20th Century Art

Surveillance

Mixed Media Installation

Found Objects

Surrounding Environment

Blurring Boundaries

21st Century Art

Augmented Reality

Digital Technology

Digital Image

Different Perspectives

Science Fiction

Utopia/Dystopia

Biennale

(Inspired by) Fluxus