Christiane Paul (2003), ‘Digital Art’

by Chris

Christiane Paul (2003), ‘Digital Art’, London UK, Thames and Hudson Inc.

This book is a survey of digital art from the 1980s to 2003, with some references to earlier work in the 70s. The chapters of interest; ‘A short history of technology and art’, ‘Internet art and nomadic networks’, ‘Virtual reality and augmented reality’, and Telepresence, telematics, and telerobotics.’

‘A short history of technology and art’ brought to my attention Douglas Davis, Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, performers and interactive artists experimenting with telepresence from 1977. At Documenta VI in Germany, Douglas Davis organised a satellite telecast performance to more than twenty-five countries. Also that year, Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz performed ‘the world’s first interactive satellite dance performance’ with dancers on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States.

‘Internet art and nomadic networks’ surveys works that take advantage of the interactive and multi-user elements of the internet. Desktop Theater 1997 by Adriene Jenik and Lisa Brenneis, is an online environment inviting anyone to take part in an choreographed performance. Users can enter the space with their own avatars.

‘Virtual reality and augmented reality’, most of the works described in this chapter are digital environments or 3D worlds, which people can navigate through and/or observe. A work by Agnes Hegedus, ConFIGUREING the CAVE, 1996, employs a number of projections and combines four different virtual worlds, and users can interact with it by the means of a life-size wooden puppet. The puppet is the interface.

‘Telepresence, telematics and telerobotics’ chapter describes a quite a lot of telerobotic projects, but there was a mention of a networked performance piece. This project Capsule Hotel by the artists’ collective Fakeshop, established a link between a link between a Tokyo hotel and a gallery space. Each capsule is four feet by eight feet and wired with a camera, a monitor and a microphone, networked together so that participants can see and speak to each other using the video feed.

All the works described illustrate online collaboration or elements which show potential to support online collaboration for performance.