Week 8: Electronic and Computing Arts


The emergence of new art forms such as electronic and computing arts has opened up new pathways for artists. They can now produce creative outcomes previously unattainable due to the limitations of traditional art methods. These novel art forms, like those in the past, have also given artists the chance to assign new meaning to and create new relationships between everyday objects and phenomena. In an exhibition titled Symphonie Cinétique, for instance, artists Olafur Arnalds and Joachim Sauter constructed five kinetic artworks that prompt the viewer to consider motion in a different way. Together, the pieces on display create a narrative relationship between the three elements of reflection, sound, and movement, and collectively, they blur the boundaries between natural and artificial, animate and inanimate.


Short descriptions of the works involved:

symph21.) “Delta Phi is based on the principle of caustics – the way light refracts on water. 
The chrome-plated surface was compu­tationally designed and 3D-milled. Encoded into each facet 
are hidden Greek letters, which become legible in the sur­rounding room with the help of reflected surface light. 
Phi is the sign for luminous flux. Delta stands for change and move­ment.”

symph32.) “Resonance is a kinetic instal­lation made of light, move­ment and a mirrored body. 
Its ever-changing multi­plexed pattern of move­ment is literally coded in hardware. 
The abstract, moving light archi­tecture merges with, expands, and adds a new dynamic to the actual physical space.”

symph43.) “Infinite Cube is a spatially concentrated, but at the same time expansive, kinetic installation. The spheres follow a compu­tational narrative that moulds them into a fluid succession of abstract shapes. An optical illusion extends the apparently clear spatial confines of the installation into infinity. 
Viewers are also reflected in the instal­la­tion, and their presence adds an additional layer to the interplay of real and reflected space.”

4.) “Tri is a kinetic installationsymph5 composed of triangular mirrors that move vertically and rotate around two axes in a complex choreography of flowing three-dimensional structures. Their physical movement is enhanced with ceiling lighting and an interplay between the reflective triangles and the dark, overlapping shadows they cast on the floor.”

symph65.) “Manta Rhei combines choreographed light with physical movement for a kinetic sculpture. Manta Rhei can perform a wide spectrum of patterns ranging from harmo­ni­ous to more conflicting. The changing ‘behaviour’ evokes the impression of an animated object with a certain degree of autonomy.”

Despite the revolutionary capacity of art projects similar to Symphonie Cinétique, a number of people still express adversarial opinions. Opponents of electronic/computer art find the artworks under these categories tediously repetitious. Other criticizers consider these art forms inconsequential and argue that they lack craftsmanship. Contemplating these opinions led me to the following questions: Have these new art forms affected society’s aesthetic judgment? When does technology enhance or detract from an experience of beauty? Does the implementation of technology in artworks lessen their overall intrinsic value? From a personal point of view, electronic and computer art require as much skill as any other traditional form of art. These art forms necessitate a deep understanding of complex computer program and provide artists with the tools to stretch the limits of vision and perception. So although electronic/computer art may generate a product that appears relatively simple, the technological and artistic processes involved in creating the final piece are usually rather complex. In terms of aesthetic judgment, I do believe that these art forms have made an impact on how society perceives contemporary works of art. This then demonstrates how the intrinsic value of art remains intact in spite of implemented technological components.




Crystal Sun


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