New Philosophy for New Media

Front Cover
MIT Press, 2004 - Philosophy - 333 pages
In New Philosophy for New Media, Mark Hansen defines the image in digital art in terms that go beyond the merely visual. Arguing that the "digital image" encompasses the entire process by which information is made perceivable, he places the body in a privileged position—as the agent that filters information in order to create images. By doing so, he counters prevailing notions of technological transcendence and argues for the indispensability of the human in the digital era.

Hansen examines new media art and theory in light of Henri Bergson's argument that affection and memory render perception impure—that we select only those images precisely relevant to our singular form of embodiment. Hansen updates this argument for the digital age, arguing that we filter the information we receive to create images rather than simply receiving images as preexisting technical forms. This framing function yields what Hansen calls the "digital image." He argues that this new "embodied" status of the frame corresponds directly to the digital revolution: a digitized image is not a fixed representation of reality, but is defined by its complete flexibility and accessibility. It is not just that the interactivity of new media turns viewers into users; the image itself has become the body's process of perceiving it.

To illustrate his account of how the body filters information in order to create images, Hansen focuses on new media artists who follow a "Bergsonist vocation"; through concrete engagement with the work of artists like Jeffrey Shaw, Douglas Gordon, and Bill Viola, Hansen explores the contemporary aesthetic investment in the affective, bodily basis of vision. The book includes over 70 illustrations (in both black and white and color) from the works of these and many other new media artists.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

New philosophy for new media

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

"New media" here refers to digital art forms that both act upon the perceiver's physical constraints and provoke the audience to reconstruct aesthetic assumptions. Hansen (English, Princeton Univ ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

In New Philosophy for New Media, Hansen argues that digital media has changed how we perceive. He claims it is no longer an ocular event but an affective event of the body. Hansen employs Bergon’s theory of perception and his emphasis on the body (what he calls “a center of indetermination within an acentered universe”) to argue that the "digital image" encompasses the entire process by which information is made perceivable through embodied experience. He places the body in a privileged position - as the agent that filters information in order to create images. By doing so, he counters prevailing notions of technological transcendence and argues for the indispensability of the human body in the digital era. Hansen claims that we are undergoing a paradigm shift in “aesthetic culture”-- a shift from from a dominant ocularcentrist aesthetic to a haptic aesthetic rooted in embodied affectivity.” He wishes to demonstrate that new media artists “have focused on fore-grounding the foundation of vision in modalities of bodily sense” (12).
I can see how this kind of argument can help move aesthetics from a surface level concern to a more experiential domain. It points to a shift in aesthetic experience, where the old model -- disinterested perception of an object-- is replaced by a more particular and embodied approach (something that sounds a lot like Wysocki’s “Sticky Embrace of Beauty”). Hansen questions: “Why is it then, that we continue to speak of the image, even following its digital transfiguration (dissolution)? Why do we take recourse to a hybrid infrastructure? Why, given the disjunction between surface level appearance and materiality, do we continue to associate a given set of numerical coordinates or of information with a visually perceivable form? While Manovich’s aesthetic questions hint at some of these same concerns, Hansen claims that he extends Manovich’s thinking. Hansen says, not only does the user actively “go into” new media, the user creates the image – it is a process which takes place within the user's body. He states: “we must accept that the image, rather than finding instantiation in a privileged technical form (including the computer interface), now demarcates the very process through which the body, in conjunction with the various apparatuses for rendering information perceptible, gives form to or in-forms information. In sum, the image can no longer be restricted to the level of surface appearance, but must be extended to encompass the entire process by which information is made perceivable through embodied experience” (10).
 

Contents

List of Figures
Acknowledgments
Foreword
Introduction
1
From Image to Body
19
Between Body and Image On the Newness of New Media Art
21
Framing the Digital Image Jeffrey Shaw and the Embodied Aesthetics of New Media
47
The Automation of Sight and the Bodily Basis of Vision
93
Affect as Interface Confronting the Digital Facial Image
127
Whats Virtual about VR? Reality as BodyBrain Achievement
153
The Affective Topology of New Media Art
189
Time Space and Body
225
Body Times
227
Conclusion
261
Notes
265
Index
313

The AffectBody
125

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2004)

Mark B. N. Hansenis professor of literature and media arts and sciences at Duke University, coeditor of"Critical Terms for Media Studies", and the author of three books, including"Bodies in Code: Interfaces with New Media".

Bibliographic information