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Geert Lovink, Associate Professor of New Media, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

New Media Art: In Search of the Cool Obscure

October 29, 2007; 58 Minutes; Video

The emerging new media arts genre is in a crisis. Not that “new media” are on their way out. What we're talking about here is a “luxury” problem: in what direction to grow further. After an initial period in which time and again the question “What is new media?” was raised, we have now moved to a second phase, in which large parts of the population have become familiar with multimedia, cell phones, and the Internet. However, new media arts still operate in a self-referential ghetto, dominated by techno-fetishism. In the meanwhile, the world at large has moved from utopian promises about virtual reality and cyberspace to a culture of massive use. Taking this “democratization” of new technologies in mind, what are the implications of this shift for the “electronic arts" branch? Should new media artists and their (few) institutions seek collaboration and integration with the museum and gallery art? Should new media remain a separate category, with its own festivals and exhibitions, or be integrated into the broader “contemporary arts”? Or should we rather further institutionalize the new media discipline?