Cover

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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

Completing this project became so overwhelming in the midst of all other obligations (including children, chairing the Department of Design | Media Arts at UCLA, and major art exhibitions involving new work) that I often felt like giving up. But I felt a commitment to the contributors in this book and particularly to media arts students everywhere who could benefit greatly from considering this subject from an artist’s perspective. Many of the authors in this...

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Introduction

Victoria Vesna

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pp. ix-xx

In 1999, I compiled a special issue for the journal AI & Society titled “Database Aesthetics: Issues of Organization and Category in Art.” To work with the authors more efficiently, I replicated the progress of the book on the Web as it was emerging and continually updated the Web site until completed. As with many academic journals, AI & Society was printed in limited numbers and distributed primarily in the UK. The working site remained online and was...

PART I. Database Aesthetics

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1. Seeing the World in a Grain of Sand: The Database Aesthetics of Everything

Victoria Vesna

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pp. 3-38

Some thirty years ago, as a young artist to be, I was being trained in a most classical way at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade. The painting program was designed to follow the European tradition of having anatomy at its core.We spent many hours for over two years drawing every bone, every muscle, of the human body, and stopped just short of dissection.We spent the rest of the...

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2. Database as Symbolic Form

Lev Manovich

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pp. 39-60

After the novel and subsequently, cinema privileged narrative as the key form of cultural expression of the modern age. The computer age introduces its correlate—database. Many new media objects do not tell stories; they don’t have a beginning or end; in fact, they don’t have any development, thematically, formally, or otherwise, that would organize their elements into a sequence....

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3. Ocean, Database, Recut

Grahame Weinbren

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pp. 61-85

The Story Ocean pictured by Salman Rushdie is an inspiration for interactive narrative. It combines the metaphor (by now drained of meaning) of surfing—in this case riding a single story current to take in its narrative line—with the idea of fluid dynamics. Turbulences created by the surfer’s activity cause individual story streams to combine, forming new stories out of elements of the old. “It is not dead...

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4. Waiting for the World to Explode: How Data Convert into a Novel

Norman Klein

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pp. 86-94

Our civilization has reshaped data into a form of storytelling. In the eras of the Enlightenment (1680–1820), data increasingly exemplified the scientific process. They revealed natural law. Rarely do data turn into a novel. Since 1895, it is nearly impossible to cite a narrative film (other than documentaries) dominated by laundry lists and asteroid belts of data. Soviet factography of the 1920s...

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5. The Database as System and Cultural Form: Anatomies of Cultural Narratives

Christiane Paul

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pp. 95-109

The term “database aesthetics” has become a catchword of the digital realm and poses interesting semantic questions that seem to outline the field of research and art relating to databases itself. What exactly do we mean by “database aesthetics”? In discourse on digital art, the term is frequently used to describe the aesthetic principles applied in imposing the logic of the database to any....

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6. The Database Imaginary: Memory_Archive_Database v 4.0

Steve Dietz

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pp. 110-120

In 1968, in a report to the Rockefeller Foundation during a residency at SUNY Stony Brook, Nam June Paik argued that 97 percent of all electronic music was not recorded and that “a simple measure would solve the whole problem. An information center for unpublished electronic media should be created.” At the time, this meant such a center would “provide a Xerox copy and a tape copy of musical pieces, at the request of performers, students, and...

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7. Recombinant Poetics and Related Database Aesthetics

Bill Seaman

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pp. 121-141

An embodied approach to computing acknowledges the importance of the physicality of experience as it falls within the continuum that bridges the physical with the digital. To illuminate the operative nature of database aesthetics, one needs to point at a number of human processes—memory, thought, association, cataloging, categorizing, framing, contextualizing, decontextualizing...

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8. The Database: An Aesthetics of Dignity

Sharon Daniel

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pp. 142-182

The term “data” originated as the plural of the Latin word datum, meaning “something given.”1 In the world of experience, our datum is a culturally constructed social context. This context, and the socio-ideological experience of individuals in the context of contemporary Western societies, is defined by what Katherine Hayles has called the “materiality of informatics”: “the material, technological, economic, and social structures that make the information age...

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9. Network Aesthetics

Warren Sack

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pp. 183-210

Brenda Laurel unearths a potentially mountainous obstacle for interface designers. Most interface designers want to create something that is user friendly. Some of these designers have taken the approach of graphically sophisticated, direct-manipulation interfaces that are intuitive to use.1 In contrast, artificial intelligence (AI) researchers often insist that the interface per se is not that important for the goal of user-friendly software. If the computer’s “understanding...

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10. Game Engines as Embedded Systems

Robert F. Nideffer

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pp. 211-230

The attention, time, and resources expended in relation to computer games and gaming emerge out of long-standing and diverse cultural traditions rooted in fundamental human needs related to the importance of play, interactivity, and creative experimentation in our social lives. In 2002, roughly 60 percent of Americans older than six years of age (about 145 million people) reported playing computer and video games. More than 221 million computer...

PART II. Artists and Data Projects

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11. Stock Market Skirt: The Evolution of the Internet, the Interface, and an Idea

Nancy Paterson

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pp. 233-242

Dedicated to Brenda Laurel (who asked if she could wear it), this cyberfeminist fashion statement is my response to the convergence of technology, fashion, and feminism. The potential of IPV6 and wireless access were among the motivating issues underlying this project. Like many of my other media works, Stock Market Skirt presents a tongue-in-cheek and intentionally ironic exploration of the relationship between the two most interesting, if not...

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12. Pockets Full of Memories

Geroge Legrady

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pp. 243-248

According to the records of Centre Pompidou, approximately twenty thousand visitors viewed Pockets Full of Memories (PFOM), an installation on exhibit for four months, resulting in a contribution of more than 3,300 objects in the database archive.1 The archive consists of objects that museum visitors carried with them— for example, such common items as phones, keys, toys, fragments of clothing, personal documents, currency, and reading material. The size of the scanning box...

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13. The Raw Data Diet, All-Consuming Bodies, and the Shape of Things to Come

Lynn Hershman-Leeson

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pp. 249-252

According to the records of Centre Pompidou, approximately twenty thousand visitors viewed Pockets Full of Memories (PFOM), an installation on exhibit for four months, resulting in a contribution of more than 3,300 objects in the database archive.1 The archive consists of objects that museum visitors carried with them— for example, such common items as phones, keys, toys, fragments of clothing, personal documents, currency, and reading material. The size of the scanning box...

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14. Time Capsule: Networking the Biological

Eduardo Kac

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pp. 253-259

New technologies culturally mutate our perception of the human body from a naturally self-regulated system to an artificially controlled and electronically transformed object. The digital manipulation of the appearance of the body (and not of the body itself) clearly expresses the plasticity of the new identity of the physical body.We observe this phenomenon regularly through media representations...

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15. Aesthetics of ecosystm

John Klima

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pp. 260-268

Commissioned by Zurich Capital Markets (ZCM), ecosystm was shown to the public for the first time in the exhibition BitStreams, curated by Larry Rinder at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The press release for the show provides an introduction: John Klima’s ecosystm was commissioned by a leading investment bank to represent, artistically...

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16. Polar

Marko Peljhan

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pp. 269-278

Polar was created during a two-year process at the Artlab Canon, beginning in 1998 at the Artlab 10 exhibition, and was installed from October 28 to November 6 at the Hillside Plaza, Daikanyama, Tokyo. Polar can be described as an immersive intermedia environment and architecture. At the start of the process, we had envisioned a 7m × 7m × 4m networked tactile space, which was defined as a tactile matrix interface that enables the visitor...

Publication History

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pp. 279-280

Contributors

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pp. 281-284

Index

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pp. 285-305