“Art and Education in the Telematic Culture” presented by Ascott


Session Title:

  • Aesthetics Issues and Computer Art

Presentation Title:

  • Art and Education in the Telematic Culture




  • It was Simon Nora who coined the term telematics to describe the new electronic technology derived from the convergence of computers and telecommunica-tions systems. His report to the President of France, L’Infor-matisation de la Societe, published in 1978, is perhaps one of the most influential documents in this field to have been published in Europe—influential in that it led to the swift establishment by the French government of the Programme Telematique, which has resulted in the transformation of many aspects of French culture. This process of telematisation is most dramatically seen in the ubiquitous and rapid spread of Minitel, the public videotex system that enables widespread interaction between users and databases across an enormous range of services. Nowadays on the Paris Metro, for example, it is enough to see a poster of an island in the sun, a new household appliance, or racehorses pounding the turf, inscribed with a seven-figure sequence of numbers, to know that another Minitel service is being advertised. At home, at one’s Minitel terminal (distributed by the PTT in place of volumes of telephone directories previously provided) one can interact in electronic space with friends, colleagues, institutions and organisations of all kinds. Artists, too, have not been slow to assimilate the medium.

    Interactivity is the essence of the videotex system, as it is of all telematic systems, giving us the ability to interact in electronic space, via computer memory and beyond the normal constraints of time and space that apply to face-to-face communication. The concept of interactivity also has an important place in recent theories of communication, in contrast to the one-way linearity of older models. The new approach is found, for example, in the network analysis of Rogers and Kinkaid and in research into biology and cognition by Maturana and Varela. Neither of these studies is centrally concerned with electronic systems or telematic technologies. Both, however, deal with human interaction, language, meaning and memory, which is of value in our understanding of the potential of telematic systems to enrich visual culture.

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