What is new media? Most of the time I don’t want to spend any more energy than I have to thinking about the question; it has a “what is art?” flavor I don’t care for. There are exceptions to this, though, and last weekend proved to be one of them.
Tackled during the “Issues of Digital Media Art” session at The Woodstock Digital Media Festival Saturday morning, panel moderator and artist Joe McKay began by asking why we always have to ask what new media is. Beyond providing a basic distinction between digital art (a digital print or sculpture — object based work) and New Media (work that is created, stored and distributed with digital technologies), the panelists addressed how the medium is defined in universities, by curators, and by artists (who often opt not to bother with the issue at all). Members also addressed the pull of technology to artists, a topic of conversation that led to Magda Sawon’s assertion that “we’re at this stage where the democratization of access to technology brings in a very different layer of artists who still could be called media artists, but for them it’s a natural tool.” For this new strata of artists, “It’s not a learned tool and discovered tool, it’s the available tool.”
Sawon was part of a panel consisting of herself and Tamas Banovich, owners of Postmasters art, Christiane Paul, curator of New Media at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and artists Marcin Ramocki and Mary Flanagan.