The Engagement Aesthetic: Experiencing New Media Art through Critique (International Texts in Critical Media Aesthetics)

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Long after painting, sculpture, photography, and film developed along with their materials - canvas and panel, marble and bronze, and celluloid film - a new generation of art has emerged in which digital, electronic, architectural, and performative materials have offered new forms for creative expression and experience. In much of this new art, the medium - no longer composed of passive materials - now embraces and challenges viewers to work as co-creators of aesthetic experience.

Starting from the impossibility of understanding this new and complex art solely within the framework of contemporary art history and criticism, The Engagement Aesthetic offers new modes of critique for new media works of art, literature, and performance that operate in complex ways. Blending a range of methodologies from phenomenology, art history, linguistics, and statistical analysis, Ricardo explores how a new kinship between individual participation, electronic media, virtual and actual space, and mediated language results in a new aesthetic of mutual engagement.

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About the Author:

Francisco J. Ricardo, Ph.D., writes about contemporary and new media art theory and criticism. Affiliated with the University Professors of Boston University, he is cofounder of the Digital Video Research Archive, and also teaches digital media theory at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Review:

“The Engagement Aesthetic makes it clear: the importance of new media art resides not in its unique forms and strategies, but in the ways it activates new modes of critique and perception. Theorizing a medium is long work. (Theorists chased after cinema for decades, and continue to do so today.) New media art presents special challenges: its history is short, its forms are diverse, and newer technologies appear regularly, replacing the old. Cleverly, Francisco J. Ricardo overcomes these obstacles by focusing on the relationship between viewer and artwork--an engagement--that is specific to electronic art. With a view to art history and philosophy, the book examines exciting recent artwork (digital installation, performance, audio, text), revealing a phenomenology of the experience of digital art. This exploration will be useful to scholars, students, and artists. The Engagement Aesthetic asks 'Why is new media art different?' Ricardo's great accomplishment is to pose the question in a manner that is insightful, far-reaching, and both timely and timeless.” ―Kurt Ralske, Adjunct Faculty, MFA Digita + Media, Rhode Island School of Design, US

“Ricardo presents a thoroughly considered and novel approach to understanding and appreciating new media art in an expanded field of aesthetic theory. Without throwing away the evaluative function of aesthetics, Ricardo proposes a refocusing of its purpose toward an enacted process of perception, performance, contemplation and critique. He relates this model to the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty and exercises it through discussions of media production across art, everyday, and entertainment domains. The result is a highly compelling and provocative theoretical framework for linking the old and the new in an emerging field of critical aesthetic discourse. ” ―Dr. Teri Rueb, Professor, Department of Media Study, University at Buffalo (State University of New York), US

“Ricardo (art theorist and documentary film producer) wisely avoids pitfalls associated with new media: the fast-changing nature of the technology that underpins it, and an unlimited array of possible examples to discuss. Despite the weightiness of the material, the short-chapter structure and restrained use of jargon makes this volume surprisingly accessible. While this volume's most obvious use is as a textbook for a graduate-level course in new media theory, it may find a wider audience among practicing artists. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students through professionals/practitioners. ” ―E. K. Mix, Butler University

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9781623560409: The Engagement Aesthetic: Experiencing New Media Art through Critique (International Texts in Critical Media Aesthetics)

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