Image from Scott Snibbe’s Deep Walls, featured in my chapter, Stern Nathaniel. ‘Interactive Art: Interventions in/to Process.’ A Companion to Digital Art. Ed. Christiane Paul. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell (Blackwell Companions to Art History), 2016.
Digital art is a complex and vibrantly dynamic form whose diversity reflects the exponential growth curve in computing power. This new companion to the genre gives readers an inclusive, in-depth understanding of digital art, covering its history and evolution, aesthetics, and politics, as well as its often turbulent relationships with established institutions. The volume provides a platform for the most influential voices shaping the current discourse surrounding digital art. Their nuanced insights afford a robust and coherent appreciation of the current state of the field – and the possible paths its future development may follow.
Combining the seasoned perspectives of leading international experts with fresh work by emerging scholars, the companion tackles key issues in digital art. It showcases critical and theoretical approaches from across the spectrum, taking in art-historical, philosophical, political, and gendered perspectives, among many others. The volume also covers digital art’s primary practical challenges – how to present, document, and preserve pieces that could be erased forever by rapidly accelerating technological obsolescence. Up-to-date, forward-looking, and critically reflective, this authoritative new collection is informed throughout by a deep appreciation of the technical intricacies of digital art.
Editor: Christiane Paul
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell, Blackwell Companions to Art History
Date of Publication: May 2016
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Art Education, The Minor Gesture, Interactive Art + Embodiment, Antinomies of Art + Culture, Thought in the Act
Cover image and feature article on Nathaniel Stern’s work and practice.
“In this month’s Instructional Resource, Christine Woywod presents the interactive artworks of Nathaniel Stern who often blends art and technology to generate participatory installations through which audience members may bodily experience art, performing images into existence.” – James Haywood Rolling Jr.
Woywod, C. (2016). “Nathaniel Stern: Performing images into existence.” Art Education, Volume 69 Issue 4 pp 36-42.
Downloadable PDF of the above article is forthcoming. Firewall version here.
A companion web resource is available here.
Other related texts: Companion to Digital Art, M Magazine, engadget, Art Fag City, Critical Arts
Cover image: detail from Weather Patterns: the smell of red (2014).
Author: Erin Manning
Publisher: Duke University Press
Date of Publication: June 2016
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Other related texts: Thought in the Act, Non-toxic Printmaking, Companion to Digital Art, Critical Mass, Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness
Title: Other Frames: Malcolm Levy and Sensing Images
Author: Nathaniel Stern
Publisher: Transfer Gallery
Date of Publication: February 2015
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Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance
An Arts Future Book, published by Gylphi Limited, 2013
ISBN-10: 1780240090 and ISBN-13: 978-1780240091 – paperback
978-1-78024-010-7 – Kindle
978-1-78024-011-4 – EPUB
‘This remarkably readable and passionate text makes important contributions to the discourses of embodiment, perception, and affect in relation to the performativity staged by interactive art. Stern’s “implicit body” framework and the mantra “moving-thinking-feeling” offer insightful and comprehensive tools for grasping the complexity of contemporary aesthetic experience and for imagining future potentials.’ — Dr. Edward A. Shanken, author, Art and Electronic Media
‘In his very intelligent book, Nathaniel Stern shows how dynamics work: he mobilizes a range of theory and practice approaches so as to entangle them into an investigation of interactive art. Stern maps the incipient activity and force of contemporary art practices in a way that importantly remind us that digital culture is far from immaterial. Interactive Art and Embodiment creates situations for thought as action.’ — Dr Jussi Parikka, media theorist, Winchester School of Art, author of Insect Media
‘In Nathaniel Stern’s Interactive Art and Embodiment, Stern develops a provocative and engaging study of how we might take interactive art beyond the question of “what technology can do” to ask how the implicit body of performance is felt-thought through artistic process. What results is an important investigation of art as event (as opposed to art as object) that incites us to make transversal linkages between art and philosophy, inquiring into how practice itself is capable of generating fields of action, affect and occurrence that produce new bodies in motion.’ — Dr Erin Manning, Research Chair and Director of the SenseLab, Concordia University
‘Nathaniel Stern’s book is a marvelous introduction to the thinking and practice of this innovative new media artist, and to the work of others in the same field. Philosophically informed and beautifully written, it is sensitive to the many complex issues involved in making such work.’ — Prof Charlie Gere, Professor of Media Theory and History in the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University, and author of Digital Culture, Art, Time and Technology, and Community without Community in Digital Culture.
About the book
How do interactive artworks ask us to perform rigorous philosophies of the body?
Nathaniel Stern argues that interactive art suspends and amplifies the ways we experience embodiment – as per-formed, relational, and emergent. He provides many in-depth case studies of contemporary artworks that develop a practice of embodied philosophy, setting a stage to explore how we inter-act and relate with the world. He offers a valuable critical framework for analyzing interactive artworks and what’s at stake in our encounters with them, which can be applied to a wide range of complex and emerging art forms.
In the companion chapter (offered in partnership with Networked Book at Turbulence.org), Stern offers a semi-autobiographical account of his own research trajectory, and invites comment, critique, and contributions of new work. This creates a participatory stage for rehearsing the performance of scholarship.
Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance, by Nathaniel Stern, was released August 2013 as the first in the Arts Future Book series by Gylphi Ltd. Arts Future Book is published and supported by an international editorial board. It represents a substantial practical and theoretical investigation into the future of books about the arts. As a book series it publishes unique works that establish new systems for considering art. Their aim is to explore the relations between the form and content of art books and to exploit new technologies that expand their literal and philosophical capacities. What is a book about art, and what can and should it do? The Arts Future Book project has been explained, modelled (and remodelled) in the open-access journal article/artwork: ‘Is Art History Too Bookish’ by series editor Charlotte Frost.
In its various modes, Interactive Art and Embodiment performs the philosophical environment of interactive art, and embodies Arts Future Book’s investigations into how we can and should perform art scholarship.
Other related texts: Neural Magazine, Meaning Motion press, WORT fm, De Arte, Body Language
‘Wikipedia Art: Citation as Performative Act’ – a chapter by Nathaniel Stern and Scott Kildall
Wikipedia Art is many things: an open-ended concept, an immanent object, a collaborative text, and a net-work that complicates the very possibility for these distinctions. This chapter most specifically explicates and unfolds the performance of Wikipedia Art as an intervention into, and critical analysis of, Wikipedia: its pages, its system, its volunteers and paid staff. Both the art work and our chapter use and subvert Wikipedia itself – the definitions it puts forward, the discourses engaged by its surrounding community on and off the site, and as a venue/space ripe for intervention. In the chapter, we briefly unpack how the art work speaks back to the structure and performance of Wikipedia, online consensus, the mythologies behind Wikipedia, and Wikimedia’s power more generally.
Book Title: Critical Point of View: A Wikipedia Reader
Editors: Geert Lovink and Nathaniel Tkacz
Chapter Title: Wikipedia Art: Citation as Performative Act
Publisher: Institute of Network Cultures, University of Amsterdam
Date of Publication: 2011
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Book: edited collection of essays
Table of Contents:
Preface: ‘Until Something Else’ – A Theoretical Introduction
PART 1 The Empirical
Francisco J. Ricardo: Formalisms of Digital Text
Sheizaf Rafaeli, Tsahi Hayat, Yaron Ariel: Knowledge Building and Motivations in Wikipedia: Participation as “Ba”
Mahmoud Eid: On the Way to the Cyber-Arab-Culture: International Communication, Telecommunications Policies, and Democracy
Rita Zaltsman: The Challenge of Intercultural Electronic Learning: English as Lingua Franca
PART 2 The Aesthetic
Nicole Ridgway and Nathaniel Stern: The Implicit Body
Leman Giresunlu: Cyborg Goddesses: the Mainframe Revisited
Maria Backe: De-Colonizing Cyberspace: Post-Colonial Strategies in Cyberfiction
Tony Richards: The Différance Engine: Videogames as Deconstructive Spacetime
Alev Adil and Steve Kennedy: Technology on Screen: Projections, Paranoia and Discursive practice
Seppo Kuivakari: Desistant Media
‘Cyberculture and New Media,’ Leonardo Electronic Almanac
‘Forgetting Media Studies: Anthologies, Archives, Anachrony,’ Electronic Book Review
Editor: Francisco J. Ricardo
Publisher: Rodopi Press
Date of Publication: 2009
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Title: Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity
Editors: Terry Smith, Okwui Enwezor, Nancy Condee
Publisher: Duke University Press
Date of Publication: 2008
Excerpt from “Aftermath: Value and Violence in Contemporary South African Art,” by Colin Richards
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‘Perhaps the most sustained elaboration of the relation of human body and techno-machine is to be found in the works of Nathaniel Stern and Marcus Neustetter. Stern’s Compressionism is a digital performance that invokes a “complex conversation between artist, performance, mediation tool, art objects(s) and viewer,” while Neustetter, Stern’s sometimes partner in art, has produced “digital frottage” in which he scanned, photocopied, and photographed the screen of his laptop… This is sly work, and both artists seem to shove a digit in the air at the cybermyths of boundless, dematerialized, “democratic” connection and communication, without rejecting the myth of a borderless global community and boundless processes of radical interconnectivity. Theirs is not the techno-utopia or dystopia promised and warned against by apologists for globalization and its opponents; one senses instead a slightly perverse smile that knows it is in the thrall of some kind of retromaterialist libido on a humane and doggedly human scale.’