Assignment #2 – Reading Response

The question is, How does digital art (new media) relate to, or impact different aspects of our western culture?

In Chapter 1 of Digital Art Christiane Paul brings her readers up to date with a very brief overview of the place of digital media in today’s world, discussing the recent appearance of digital media arts on the world scene, and its cultural impact. I see digital media as being an element of culture that is being influenced by a general trend toward our reliance on technology. Stuck together in a perpetual bout of one-upmanship, technology is permeating and redefining the makeup of western culture, demanding a faster, more precise way of living. Digital media is responding to this trend so quickly it is, in turn, creating other aspects of the change. Western culture is one of continuing evolution and consumption; we will buy the same song over and over so long as it is remixed again and again. Sampling has allowed for greater creative flexibility without any fear of a degradation of the work after each variation and rebirth. Digital media allows for more players, the owner of the work is the last person who touched it, this new interpretation of authenticity and authority show itself to be worlds away from traditional ideas of authorship. Just as Prometheus gave man fire; the digital age as given Man a voice, clearly heard across the scope of our culture. No longer is art defined by select patrons, today digital media allows for the untrained, dark horse to have equal exposure to the public.

The playful nature of digital art I think fits very well with the direction and speed of our western culture. The immediacy of digital art allows creative individuals to experiment with very little effort, financial reprise or devotion of time. Innovations are made simply by the fact the volume of work being created is so increased. I doubt if Nancy Burson ever envisioned her morphing technology to become a crime fighting tool, much less a popular effect in Michael Jackson videos. Still, in the short time digital images have been available to us, we as consumers have been so inundated that we are already jaded by them. We are all so aware of the ease of image manipulation westerners now function with a “heightened awareness of the questionable nature of the authenticity of images.” (Paul, 36) The multiplicity of styles and creations in the realm of digital art has allowed our culture to grow and be more flexible as well. The information age has shifted the balance of power in a way that is not wholly unlike the invention of the Gutenberg’s press and the proliferation of the printed page, information and art are now available on a scale never seen before, digital media allowed that to happen.


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