Mimesis And Code: The Aesthetics of the Microcontroller in New Media Art


Session Title:

  • DIY Processes

Presentation Title:

  • Mimesis And Code: The Aesthetics of the Microcontroller in New Media Art



  • (Long paper)

    Keywords: Mimesis, microcontrollers, prototypes, interactive, agency, autonomy, code, programming, hardware, physical computing.

    This paper is a theoretical discussion about new media art prototypes that use interactive components such as programmed microcontrollers, which respond to the presence of viewers in a host of dynamic ways. The media art prototype is examined in relation to the Western philosophical concept of mimesis, or the convincing imitation of aspects of life, with the aim of understanding the overall aesthetic and cultural implications of media works of art that appear to possess life or agency of their own. Media art is shown to reinvigorate the ancient concept of mimesis in important politico-cultural capacities: by revealing that works of art can be endowed with the illusion of agency, contemporary new media artists also suggest that such powers of agency and possibility for change extend to other aspects of the lived world. The former modernist/postmodernist critique of mimesis as rote naturalism or hegemonic cultural coding thus modulates itself. The suggestion of mimetic animism in new media art prototypes proffers invention and manufacture as a potential space of reconciliation between mechanized materiality, systems of production, and organic life.

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