Interactive Art

December 15, 2009

As we have come to see throughout the semester, the computer and the internet have both had a huge impact on our society. They have greatly improved communication, expanded many opportunities, and have allowed both a quick way to spread knowledge and an easy way to save research time. Not only have they affected the intellectual world as we know it, but they have affected the world of the arts as well–they have also opened up a new medium for art. We saw the dawn of the computer age bring change to the world of design (modernism to postmoderism).  With the birth and rise of the internet, we have been able to see a whole new expansion in the art world, mostly commonly known as interactive art.  Though as we know, most new, unfamiliar forms of art are followed with the question, “is this really art?”

I personally feel that there is a fine line between interactive art and programming, but as we have seen while discussing the Book of Kells, art is never black and white; some pieces can really fall beneath two different categories.  When looking at interactive media art, almost all of the pieces rely on the participant, and each end result is different based on that specific participant and their actions.  Therefore, in a way, this final product is a one of kind piece.  But, although these are qualities that can reflect a piece of art, aren’t they also qualities often seen in video games?  When playing online video games especially, the player is first warned that “experience may vary during gameplay.”  This is because the game and its story and progress all relies on the player, or the participant.  If we consider the interactive art in which the participant or viewer creates an end result that is an actual picture, like in pieces where a motion sensor tracks the viewers movements to create brush strokes or line drawings, we are more motivated to consider this art.  I think we can agree that interactive art is a form of art in programming.  It is a mix of design, because it has a purpose, technical programming because of how it is crafted, art because it can be aesthetically pleasing and can send a message, and can at times, be considered a game to help entertain the viewer.

Another question arises with the introduction of interactive art—if we consider the art side of the process, how much credit can we give to the artists?  The artists are the ones who come up with the concept, but without the participant, the piece would not be the same as the artist intended.  The created end result is due to the viewer or participant, however, the end result can’t be reached without the artists concept first.  Therefore we can credit the participant almost as much as the artist.  However, I feel that this links the viewer closer to art than ever before.  Although people have always reacted strongly to successful art, feeling a certain connection to a piece, through gaining a certain message or through the emotion in which it provokes, interactive art physically puts the viewer in that piece, involving them in its creation and completion.

Art is always changing.  It is reliant on society, and each movement changes with the current time.   We saw design change with the computer revolution, and now we are seeing another movement with use of the internet and current technology such as motion sensors, and heat detectors.  It is without a doubt that we will see further changes in interactive media due to the ever-growing, ever-changing technological advances of the present and future.

Modernism vs Postmodernism

November 22, 2009

Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, but more specifically, the term describes both a set of cultural tendencies, and an array of associated cultural movements. In design, this movement lasted from the 1930s until 1980. In a sense, Modernism was a reductive movement; form was simplified as a way to break from pictorial representation.  It was characterized by neat, clean, orderly grids that were guided by structure and control.  Postmodernism, on the other hand, came after modernism, literally meaning “after modernism.” The Compact Oxford English Dictionary refers to postmodernism as “a style and concept in the arts characterized by distrust of theories and ideologies and by the drawing of attention to conventions.” In fact, it is a cultural change from modernism; it was a reaction to modernism, challenging what it stood for, marked by chaos and lack of control.

Paul Rand is a perfect example of a modernist designer. “Undoubtedly, the core ideology that drove Rand’s career, and hence his lasting influence, was the modernist philosophy he so revered” (  Rand is best known for many commonly viewed American corporate logos such as ABC, IBM, UPS, Cummings Engine, and Westinghouse Electric, among many others, but has also designed many other things, from poster advertisements to packaging.  His designs are artistic, yet you can see that Rand is using structure and control.  His pieces are for the most part simple in design, he uses basic shapes in a fairly minimal design, yet he is still able to send the correct message and keep the design excititing and stimulating. Take the IBM logo for example, Rand created a logo which is relatively simple in design, yet there is brilliance in its simplicity.  Although it looks uncomplicated, it holds such a strong meaning– an entire corporation successfully bottled in one simple logo.  This reinforces the simplification of modernism. Rand also designed a poster for IBM, depicting the corporation’s name as an “eye,” a “bee,” and an “m.”  As we know, modernism was designed simplified, and could we simplify IBM any further?  Though it was simple, it was an uncommon way of depicting a corporation.  This was a key concept of Rand’s, as well as fellow modernist designers.  Both IBM pieces, along with all Rand’s other designs are very neat and clean, and the viewer can feel the control that Rand kept his designs under control.

Moving on to postmodernism, we can view David Carson.  David Carson’s clients have ranged everywhere from Nine Inch Nails to Mastercard, Samsung to the Suicide Girls, Western Union to Luftansa. When viewing any piece of his work, it is evident that he does not use a grid in the same way that the modernists did.  Like many postmodernists, Carson lacks the clean order seen in the movement of their predecessor.  Though his some of his work can still be considered somewhat orderly, it’s a chaotic order rather than a tight order as if it were designed on a grid.  “His characteristic chaotic spreads with overlapped photos and mixed and altered type fonts drew both admirers and detractors” (  Carson seems to break almost all the boundaries that were set by the modernists.  He ignores structure, pays no attention to order, and lacks any control.  He took the look of the modernist movement and completely turned it upside down, and changed it, defied it.  That is what the postmodernist movement was all about, which is what makes David Carson such a good example of the design of this period.

Modernism was an art movement about clean, orderly structure in design.   A movement only ended and changed when postmodernism transformed design. Postmodernism was more chaotic design, breaking boundaries rather than maintaining within them.  Modernism was more about dating back in art, when most designs were more simplistic.  Postmodernism brought art to the future, incorporating the introduction of the computer into design.  Though in both cases, the designers successfully communicated with their viewers, they went about it in completely different ways.  The differences between modernism and postmodernism are clearly evident when viewing the works of such artists as Paul Rand and David Carson.  Though sometimes, their use and organization of typography can look similar between their works, Rand would place the type neatly whereas Carson might pile layers of type, or scatter it throughout the piece with little order.  Though post modernism stemmed from modernism, and probably wouldn’t exist today without modernism, they are still very different movements, mostly due to the introduction of computers.

Works Cited

One of a kind. We’ve all used this phrase to describe something we value in life. So when something isn’t one of a kind, but instead a reproduction spread in thousands across the globe, do we value it any less? What if there was a Mona Lisa in every art museum across the world? Would it be valued to the same degree as if it was the only one? Would daVinci be so highly regarded if his paintings had been available to everyone, everywhere? How do we decide what we value and what we don’t? I believe that art value is relative. It is relevant to the time in which it was created, the culture in which it is viewed, and the context in which it was made.

Art value is definitely dependant on time. This is seen especially in the spread of lithography. Though art replication has always been available, it was more readily and rapidly available with lithography. “Lithography enabled graphic art to…keep pace with printing” (Benjamin 1), which was then surpassed by photography; “For the first time in the process of pictorial reproduction, photography freed the hand of the most important artistic functions which henceforth devolved only upon the eye looking into a lens. Since the eye perceives more swiftly than the hand can draw, the process of pictorial reproduction was accelerated so enormously that it could keep pace with speech.” (Benjamin 1).  I think that original pieces were valued more in the past because reproduction was harder back then, at periods of time with little ways to rapidly reproduce works of art and paintings. This can’t necessarily account for today’s art, as we have the technology that enables us to spread copies of the same piece of art all over the world. “Around 1900 technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes” (Benjamin 2). Therefore, it wouldn’t be fair to base the value of a piece of art on its quantity today. I feel that this is a good thing, because it allows artwork to be viewed more for its content. Benjamin argues that even a perfect reproduction of a work lacks “its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” I feel that this is true for things of the past, but not necessarily for today, since the reproductions allow for archival value as well.

In the past, I feel that artwork was valued more culturally, but quantity was also valued. The fact that the work was not available to everyone, made it more prized, but today, art is not as limited, as most are reproduced. Sure, we could destroy our negatives, and burn our printing blocks, and delete our files, but we usually care to produce in masses. This is because today we value art as a commodity, a selling point in a materialistic society. We want to sell more, and gain more, so the fact that we can create so many replications doesn’t necessarily diminish the arts value.  This also proves to us that value is relative to culture. In a materialistic culture we value more commodity.

Also, how the piece was created can affect its value; what materials were used, how much time was spent, and in some cases, even who the artist was. When fame is attached to an artist’s name, we sometimes automatically value their work, without even giving thought to their content. This is evident in Damien Hurst’s show, which sold out, before its reception, without anyone even seeing a preview of the work. Why value something so much, and put it in such high regard without even seeing it? Duchamp’s work merely took found objects, but was highly regarded and valued in society. A ten-dollar shovel was worth more than ten times its worth simply because it held his name. This shows us that the artist was valued more than his work. Though some may have valued it for a message and meaning they may have gained from his work, or the fact that he completely challenged, but most merely associated his name with his work, and therefore the value increased. This is a fact that Duchamp knew and therefore mocked. This also may not be an ideal reason to value something, but it proves that these are factors in how people determine value of art.

Artwork is valued differently by different people; there is not necessarily a universal value set. Instead, the value is relevant to the time in which it was created–the circumstances of society at that time, the culture that is viewing it, the artist who created it, and the means in which it was created.  Something may be highly valued in one society, and looked down upon in another.


Benjamin, Walter.  Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.  1935.

internet v printing press

October 20, 2009

Kaitlin Monda

October 18, 2009

Art 85

Printing Press vs. Internet

Throughout history, both the printing press and the Internet have had huge impacts on society, this is certain. The question is, which had the greater impact? It is hard to compare, considering each occurred at a different time, under different cultural circumstances, but we must look at the big picture and consider how each helped to improve society and what opportunities they have opened up. When you look at it in this perspective, it seems that the internet had the over all greater impact, as it includes multiple forms of media, and is able to span across the globe at incredible speeds. It seems that the printing press was merely a beginning for what would ultimately become the Internet.

Without a doubt, the printing press had a huge impact on society. “The immediate effect of the printing press was to multiply the output and cut the costs of books. It thus made information available to a much larger segment of the population who were, of course, eager for information of any variety. Libraries could now store greater quantities of information at much lower cost…Printing stimulated the literacy of lay people and eventually came to have a deep and lasting impact on their private lives. Although most of the earliest books dealt with religious subjects, students, businessmen, and upper and middle class people bought books on all subjects. Printers responded with moralizing, medical, practical and travel manuals. Printing provided a superior basis for scholarship and prevented the further corruption of texts through hand copying. By giving all scholars the same text to work from, it made progress in critical scholarship and science faster and more reliable” (Kreis). The printing press helped with the availability of information to the common man, which lead to the spread of knowledge and therefore breakthroughs in science and discovery. However, the information shared was geographically limited. The printing press got the information out there, but couldn’t help spread it. Books and manuals had to be shipped over seas by merchants, or brought across countries on through other slow forms of transportation. This is the largest difference between the printing press and the Internet.

The Internet allows people to spread an unlimited amount of information to anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. “The Internet can powerfully leverage your ability to find, manage, and share information. Never before in human history has such a valuable resource been available to so many people at such little cost” (<;). “In 1996, there were approximately 45 million people using the Internet. By 1999, the number of worldwide Internet users reached 150 million, and more than half of them were from the United States. In 2000, there were 407 million users worldwide. By 2004, there were between 600 and 800 million users (counting has become more and more inexact as the network has grown, and estimates vary)” (<;). This shows just how many people were able to access information on the Internet in such a short period of time. The Internet without a doubt had a more rapid spread than the printing press. It was able to reach millions of people all at one time. People across the world were able to share information as well as their own ideas, hopes, and beliefs. The internet brought all forms of media into one; access to any newspaper was available, no matter where one was located, television shows and news are accessible at the drop of a hat, art can be viewed from one’s living room, and even the radio is now spread via the internet.

Although the information, which stemmed from the printing press, was controlled, whereas the Internet has grown to allow millions of pieces of information by any user, whether it is true or false, the Internet seems to have left a greater impact on society. The Internet is ever-expanding and ever-growing, whereas the printing press was limited in its growth. The Internet can reach billions of people, all over the Earth, whereas the printing press could only get information as far as a traveler or merchant could take it. The printing press was a great invention, but it was merely a stepping-stone for the Internet: “The printing press was the big innovation in communications until the telegraph was developed. Printing remained the key format for mass messages for years afterward, but the telegraph allowed instant communication over vast distances for the first time in human history. Telegraph usage faded as radio became easy to use and popularized; as radio was being developed, the telephone quickly became the fastest way to communicate person-to-person; after television was perfected and content for it was well developed, it became the dominant form of mass-communication technology; the internet came next, and newspapers, radio, telephones, and television are being rolled into this far-reaching information medium” (<;). The Internet is the most advanced form of the printing press, and therefore, is ultimately supierior.

Works Cited

Kreis, Steven. “The Printing Press”< press.html> Oct 2009

“History of the Internet” <; Oct 2009

“Imagining the Internet” <; Oct 2009

“The Internet” <; Oct 2009.

Book of Kells- Art or Design?

September 28, 2009

Kaitlin Monda

Book Of Kells: Art or Design?

There is a thin line between art and design; a great deal of art can fall under the category of design because of why they were created. If something was made with a purpose, as most art is, it should principally be viewed as design. Although the Book of Kells is considered a masterpiece of medieval art, can we really view it primarily as art, or should it instead be considered, first and foremost, as a design?  Because each page of this illuminated manuscript is beautifully illustrated, we want to call it a work of art, which is correct, but it was made for a purpose—to illustrate the teachings of the Four Gospels for those who could not read.  Design is something made for a purpose; therefore, if the Book of Kells is a work of art created for a purpose, shouldn’t it predominantly be referred to as design?

The Book of Kells was created in the eighth century medieval Europe, under circumstances when there was a heavy concentration on religion. It was also a time when little schooling was done, and most average citizens were illiterate. It was hard for them to learn the necessary holy teachings which they were expected to live by without the ability to read, and therefore, “the use of visual embellishment to expand the word became very important, and illuminated manuscripts were produced with extraordinary care and design sensitivity” (Meggs, Philip. A History of Graphic Design. P39). So, even though the illustrations can be considered beautiful artworks, we must consider them in context—“the illustration and ornamentation were not mere decoration. The monastic leaders were mindful of the educational value of pictures and the ability of ornament to create mystical and spiritual overtones” (Meggs, Philip. A History of Graphic Design. P39). The monk scribes wanted to reinforce the words in the book with their illuminated drawings. In fact, “manuscript production over the thousand-year course of the medieval era created a vast vocabulary of graphic forms, page layouts, illustration and lettering styles, and techniques…ranked as major innovations in graphic design (Meggs, Philip. A History of Graphic Design. P39).”

According to Kant, art is beauty, accompanied by a purpose, which shows that the Book of Kells does stand as a work of “art.” “The universality and necessity of pure judgments of taste holds for natural beauty as well as art. What is distinctive about art is that purposiveness is accompanied by some specific purpose. With fine art, that purpose is the communication of ideas. This purpose introduces a social dimension that is absent from mere entertainment. To concentrate exclusively on Kant’s Analytic of the Beautiful is to encourage an overemphasis on design and thus an extreme formalism that is contrary to Kant’s actual views” (Gracyk). The overemphasis on design is further reassurance that art is tied into design, and that the book can therefore be considered as a work of art, and a form of design.

Also, art evokes emotion, dependant on the viewer and design sends a specific message, with less room for interpretation. “Sentiment “exists merely in the mind,” so no response to a work of art is superior to any other. It would seem that there is no such thing as a wrong response to a work of art. Common sense, which Hume will defend, holds that evaluative responses are neither true nor false, yet some are better than others; we cannot help but dismiss the taste of anyone who praises a minor writer like Ogilby above a genius like Milton (Gracyk).” The Book of Kells isn’t exactly open for judgment and interpretation, as much as it was designed to depict the specific gospels. Therefore, we must look at the Book of Kells as both art, and design, but first and foremost, design. It wasn’t illustrated to merely look beautiful, but for the purpose of spreading religion; it is a work of art, which falls under design.

Works Cited

  • Meggs, Philip. A History of Graphic Design. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York. 1998.
  • Gracyk, Thomas. “Philosophy of Art: Hume and Kant: Summary and Comparison.” 2002. Web. Sept 2009.
  • Book of Kells Images. Paul duBois. <; Sept 2009.

Hello world!

September 10, 2009

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