• In the first week of this course we will look at the
history and evolution of Electronic Art.
• Some of the questions that we will address are:
• Electronic Art came out of what earlier art
• What have been the common characteristics of these
earlier art movements?
• Who are some of the key artists who have contributed
to major changes in art history?
• What are the various genres in Electronic Art today?
What is Electronic Art
• Before we try to connect this contemporary
art form with earlier art forms, let’s look at
some examples of Electronic art to help us
define some of the common characteristics.
Here are some of the genres of Electronic Art:
Click on the links and explore the works.
• interactive web art, Digital Imaging, data
visualization, interactive installations.
• Video, animation, computer games, electronic
music are also within the field of Electronic
• Before we go on, let’s talk about the term Electronic
• Electronic Art is a broad term that encompasses art
works in the fields of animation, 3D, video, electronic
music, digital imaging, net art, and interactive
• Electronic Art is now called New Media Art.
• Previously, Electronic Art was called, Digital Art, and
before that, Computer Art.
• As new technology develops and artists incorporate
the new technologies into their artworks, the term for
the field changes as well.
What is electronic art
Here are some of the common Characteristics-
• Embrace technology
• The creator often plays a backstage role
• Audience participation
• Rules for the participant to follow
• Art not defined to a set space such as a gallery
• The environment or random factors may be
part of the piece.
Where did it come from?
In brief, ( and as discussed in the book)
Electronic Art has it’s roots in:
• Research Institutes, Scientists, Military
• Dadaists art movement (1916-1924),
• Fluxus art movement (60s & 70s) and
• Conceptual art movement (started in the 60s)
• But I am going to go back even further………
A concept that is deeply established in the development
of Electronic art is a shift away from the higher
establishment to the common person. Which means,
creating art that address everyday concerns. One
famous historical artist who did just that was Vincent
Van Gough rebelled against the system by painting common objects that even a
peasant could relate to and also through his style of painting. He painted with thick
strokes of paint that clearly allowed the viewer to see the source of the painting. It is
hard to image it today, but for the time, this was considered quite unfashionable and
Why talk about Van Gough in an
Electronic art Class?
• 1. There is a connection. A lot of the art work
you will see in this class will be challenging
and different from what is considered the
normal art standard. Remember that 100
years ago, Van Gough’s work was also
considered “not art” but now…… it sells for
Everything is a reaction to something
• Electronic art wasn’t born in an art historical
bubble. All art forms come out of an earlier
movement or a reaction to the current social
• Let’s briefly go through some of the 20thc. Art
movements starting with the Dadaist art
• Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that
began in Zürich, Switzerland, during World War I.
• The artists who formed this group were against
the politics and art movement of the time.
Dadaist included visual artists as well as literary
• They were reacting against their social and
• We will see when we study Hacktavism another
group of artists who also use their art to rebel
against their social and political environment.
• After WWII, the European art scene was devastated. Many
artist had died during the war and many fled to America. Out
of this new social environment, Abstract Expressionism was
born in America.
• Abstract expressionism is typically described as rebellious,
highly idiosyncratic and rather nihilistic. In other words, this
art form is for the artists ( those who have an art education)
rather than the average person)
Examples of Abstract Expressionism
• This art movement came out of a reaction against the
previous art movement, Abstract Expressionism.
• Unlike the Abstract Expressionist images, Pop Art images
reflect mass media and popular culture.
Pop art 1950’s
Cartoons, famous people
and ordinal household
items are the images of
The colors are also
• The international group of musician and
performers called the flux, in the 1960s also
were ancestors to interactive work.
• They gave precise instructions to audience
members for participation and allowed for
random events to be factored in as part of the
2 artists coming out of the Fluxus
• John Cage
• Nam June Paik
Your first project in this class deals with Appropriation.
Appropriation is taking something that didn’t belong to you and using it
as your own.
For your first project you will look at the examples of Andy Warhol’s
portraits. Andy Warhol became known for appropriating images as his
own such as the Cambells Soup can image.
Some other artists who used appropriation:
We mostly think if this as something as obvious as taking a picture that
someone else took and using it in your own work but there is also
cultural appropriation ( taking styles of other cultures) and medium
When Pablo Picasso started synthetic cubism he was criticized for
appropriating other mediums ( rope, paper) into his paintings.
Still Life with Chair Caning (1912)
by Pablo Picasso.
• Marcel Duchamp is one of the most famous artists from the
• For many is considered the Father of Appropriation.
• His pieces the “Readymades” took ordinary objects and
recontextualized them by putting them into a gallery- saying
that the new context was all they needed to become art.
• He is appropriating and recontextualizing.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
• Conceptual art: Readymades
Appropriation still is used in art.
• Mike Bidlo is a contemporary artists who
appropriates the styles of other artists.
• Take a look at his work.
• Mike Bidlo
• Richard Prince is another artist working with
appropriation. He takes commercial and found
images, makes them larger and recontextualizes
• Take a look at this article on Richard Prince.
• After going through this section I hope you
can find some connections between
contemporary art work and the work of the
• Art is always about something.
• A good interpretation of art tells more about
the art than about the interpreter.