“The Emperor’s New Art” presented by Maxwell


Session Title:

  • Aesthetics of Electronic Art

Presentation Title:

  • The Emperor’s New Art




  • Premature over-promotion of any and all artworks created with computers has caused the critical establishment to draw parallels with the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Simultaneously, computer artists accuse the art critical establishment of being uninformed, myopic, and hopelessly out of touch with the new media concerns. Artists disdain the oft-exhibited science fiction grotesqueries masquerading as art: bad critical reception is blamed on the inclusion of this “nerd aesthetic” in their art shows. On the other hand, some more technical-minded factions also wonder when computer artists will actually learn to program, or produce something besides canned paint system imagery and indecipherable, bad video tapes. Such squabbling and shifting of the blame from one group to the next is not the way to correct the problem.

    Many of the standards by which we have evaluated computer art have evolved outside of the high art community. Yet the standards in our own computer graphics infrastructure tend to be much lower. Often the concepts of science and tools of technology are merely appropriated and exhibited as art without any authentic artistic transformation or social context. Work, when it refers to contemporary art world trends, often does so as a form of commentary rather than genuine individual expression. Without true understanding of either art or science and technoiogy, this work can hardly help being superficial. We need to fairly evaluate work using standards as high as those by which the rest of the arts are judged. We need to extend beyond the isolation of our small community and address broader issues. Most importantly, we need to take advantage of the uniqueness of computing, and push those properties to their extreme limits. Only as these issues are addressed and resolved will computer art gain in significance and authenticity.

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