In Search of a Digital Aesthetic


Session Title:

  • Digital Aesthetics

Presentation Title:

  • In Search of a Digital Aesthetic



  • Is ‘digital aesthetics’ a valid notion in the late 1990s? Using examples of Australian artists’ work in digital media, this illustrated paper contemplates the existence and nature of a media specific aesthetic. It considers where such an aesthetic might derive from —is it intrinsic to the hardware and software, or adopted from the language of existing art criticism, especially photography or cinema, or adopted from the media of popular culture? The search for a ‘digital aesthetics’ begins with a consideration of the appropriateness of art historical precedents such as Henri Focillon’s shifting, moving and ‘becoming’ of forms that can define and generate aesthetic space. The philosophical debate of Focillon, Georg Hegel and Theodore Adorno are considered alongside contemporary dialogues from advertising, news media and entertainment. The potential of locating and employing numerous digital aesthetics are considered in relation to certain media qualities (immediacy, artifice and unreality) through the focus of Gilles Deleuze’s reading of Henri Bergson’s conception of `virtuality’. The fluid, changeable and depth less nature of digital space allows the creation of new visual and tactile relations and invites imagining of conventions appropriate to an unnatural, alternative ‘real’.