Oliver Grau, MediaArtHistories: Imagery and the Humanities in the 21st Century

On October 12th in Atlanta, a talk by Oliver Grau, “MediaArtHistories: Imagery and the Humanities in the 21st Century.” 


Over the last thirty years, media art has become a determining field. Digital art is now the art of our time. Yet, it is still often excluded from our major cultural institutions. Although there are popular festivals worldwide, well-funded collaborative projects, numerous artist-written articles, and emerging database documentation projects, media art is rarely collected by museums, included in mainstream art history or accessible to non-Western publics and scholars. As a result, a significant portion of our recent history has faded into cultural amnesia. Significantly, digital works produced some ten years ago are already lost: they can no longer be shown and they have vanished into obsolescence without a trace.

This history—our digital image history—is absolutely crucial to understanding the current image revolution, its reliance on new technologies, and its production of many new visual expressions. Media art is a socially-integrated art form. What can be done? Contemporary scientific research relies on access to shared data. For example, astronomists, biologists, and climatologists put common data to endless uses. If art and the humanities are to foster the emergence of new globally-relevant social questions, they will also have to develop and utilize common data pools.