ISBN 9780262274258
488 pp.
January 2007

Content Publisher
The MIT Press


Digital art has become a major contemporary art form, but it has yet to achieve acceptance from mainstream cultural institutions; it is rarely collected, and seldom included in the study of art history or other academic disciplines. In MediaArtHistories, leading scholars seek to change this. They take a wider view of media art, placing it against the backdrop of art history. Their essays demonstrate that today’s media art cannot be understood by technological details alone; it cannot be understood without its history, and it must be understood in proximity to other disciplines—film, cultural and media studies, computer science, philosophy, and sciences dealing with images.

Contributors trace the evolution of digital art, from thirteenth-century Islamic mechanical devices and eighteenth-century phantasmagoria, magic lanterns, and other multimedia illusions, to Marcel Duchamp’s inventions and 1960s kinetic and op art. They reexamine and redefine key media art theory terms—machine, media, exhibition—and consider the blurred dividing lines between art products and consumer products and between art images and science images. Finally, MediaArtHistories offers an approach for an interdisciplinary, expanded image science, which needs the “trained eye” of art history.

Contributors: Rudlof Arnheim, Andreas Broeckmann, Ron Burnett, Edmond Couchot, Sean Cubitt, Dieter Daniels, Felice Frankel, Oliver Grau, Erkki Huhtamo, Douglas Kahn, Ryszard W. Kluszczynski, Machiko Kusahara, Timothy Lenoir, Lev Manovich, W.J.T. Mitchell, Gunalan Nadarajan, Christiane Paul, Louise Poissant, Edward A. Shanken, Barbara Maria Stafford, and Peter Weibel.


  1. Series Foreword
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. 1. Introduction

    Oliver Grau

  4. 2. The Coming and Going of Images

    Rudolf Arnheim

  5. 3. It Is Forbidden Not to Touch: Some Remarks on the (Forgotten Parts of the) History of Interactivity and Virtuality

    Peter Weibel

  6. 4. Historicizing Art and Technology: Forging a Method and Firing a Canon

    Edward A. Shanken

  7. 5. Twin–Touch–Test–Redux: Media Archaeological Approach to Art, Interactivity, and Tactility

    Erkki Huhtamo

  8. 6. Duchamp: Interface: Turing: A Hypothetical Encounter between the Bachelor Machine and the Universal Machine

    Dieter Daniels

  9. 7. Remember the Phantasmagoria! Illusion Politics of the Eighteenth Century and Its Multimedia Afterlife

    Oliver Grau

  10. 8. Islamic Automation: A Reading of al-Jazari’s The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices (1206)

    Gunalan Nadarajan

  11. 9. The Automatization of Figurative Techniques: Toward the Autonomous Image

    Edmond Couchot

  12. 10. Image, Process, Performance, Machine: Aspects of an Aesthetic of the Machinic

    Andreas Broeckmann

  13. 11. From Film to Interactive Art: Transformation in Media Arts

    Ryszard W. Kluszczynski

  14. 12. The Passage from Material to Interface

    Louise Poissant

  15. 13. The Myth of Immateriality: Presenting and Preserving New Media

    Christiane Paul

  16. 14. Device Art: A New Approach in Understanding Japanese Contemporary Media Art

    Machiko Kushara

  17. 15. Projecting Minds

    Ron Burnett

  18. 16. Abstraction and Complexity

    Lev Manovich

  19. 17. Making Studies in New Media Critical

    Timothy Lenoir

  20. 18. Image, Meaning, and Discovery

    Felice Frankel

  21. 19. There Are No Visual Media

    W. J. T. Mitchell

  22. 20. Projection: Vanishing and Becoming

    Sean Cubitt

  23. 21. Between Bach and a Bard Place: Productive Constraint in Early Computer Arts

    Douglas Kahn

  24. 22. Picturing Uncertainty: From Representation to Mental Representation

    Barbara Maria Stafford

  25. Contributors