On composing a medium

For resisting the description of an artist as “content provider”:

when we wish certain content to be present

we must prepare the condition

from which the content could be accounted for.

Taking the introduction as an aspect of technology, we wish to examine the issue of the composability of a medium in works of art. The term, medium, has specific implications associated with the technology such as mass media, where the term presupposes a quality of being transparent and a premise to simply mediate with no interference. Through the observations of mass media practices we have learned the implication of such premises is no longer feasible for supporting any medium as an objective representation tool for the world. Similarly, we wish to revisit whether any medium can be an objective tool for artistic expressions. Can a compositional idea be independent from the medium it predicts? One might say it doesn’t matter what an artist uses to create a work of art as long as he or she gets the result. This premise may be compatible with the description of an artist as a content provider often for an industrial demand. The role of an artist is reduced to the role of demonstrator for proving the utility of certain tools and software for commercial promotions. The conceptual ground for such premises, however, is irrelevant for practitioners and artists in a computation environment particularly when one faces the machines that take nothing for granted other than the specifications in terms of their internal states, inputs, and product set. The specifications of the machines are unique to the compositional problems. With the prevalence of multimedia there is a similar concern in presenting a work of art using certain tools as objective tools for achieving certain effects. We wonder how much tools shape the final results when we note how certain packaged products keep our students of art busy collecting data and sampling. Not to eliminate the possibility of many tools, what has to be examined and included in our discourse is the composability of, and with, the tools and conditions that surround us.

“On Composing a Medium.” School of the Art Institute of Chicago,

ISEA 97: Inter-Society of Electronic Arts Conference, Chicago, IL.