Long before e-mail and the Internet permeated society, Roy Ascott, a pioneering British artist and theorist, coined the term "telematic art" to describe the use of online computer networks as an artistic medium. In Telematic Embrace Edward A. Shanken gathers, for the first time, an impressive compilation of more than three decades of Ascott’s philosophies on aesthetics, interactivity, and the sense of self and community in the telematic world of cyberspace. This book explores Ascott’s ideas on how networked communication has shaped behavior and consciousness within and beyond the realm of what is conventionally defined as art.
Telematics, a powerful marriage of computers and telecommunication, made technologies we now take for granted such as e-mail and automated teller machines (ATMs) part of our daily life, and made art a more interactive form of expression. Telematic art challenges traditional relationships between artist, artwork, and audience by allowing nonlocal audiences to influence the emergent qualities of the artwork, which consists of the ebb and flow of electronic information. These essays constitute a unique archaeology of ideas, tracing Ascott’s meditations on the formation of consciousness through the intertwined cultural histories of art and technology from the 1960s to the present.
Shanken’s introduction situates Ascott’s work within a history of ideas in art, technology, and philosophy. Given the increasing role of the Internet and the World Wide Web in the creation of commerce and community at the dawn of this new millennium, scholars, students, laypeople, policymakers, and artists will find this collection informative and thought-provoking.
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"A vital addition to the literature on art of the later twentieth century, in which Roy Ascott has played central roles as a major pioneer of interactive, telematic art and as an innovative educator. Ascott’s visionary philosophy, grounded in science and technology as well as metaphysical thought, has profound implications for the digital era. Edward Shanken is the ideal guide through this material, and his lucid and insightful introductory essay will become the standard source on Ascott’s work and the larger history of telematic art." Linda Dalrymple Henderson, David Bruton, Jr., Centennial Professor in Art History and Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas, Austin
"Roy Ascott has unerringly been a step ahead of the cultural shifts of his times. If cybernetics, interactivity, network culture, and telematics have an artistic edge today, it is because Ascott has been there first. This collection, edited and with a brilliant introduction by Edward Shanken, charts the evolution of Ascott's ideas, pedagogy, and artmaking, which continue to be a potent source of ideas for the future of art." Roger Malina, Executive Editor of Leonardo
"An admirable survey of the telematic arts and of Roy Ascott's extraordinary contributions to this art form. Thoroughly researched, this readable text is a valuable resource for initiating students into the realm of contemporary electronic arts and sciences by bridging the gap between the visual and media arts." Peter d'Agostino, Professor of Film and Media Arts and Director of the NewTechLab, Temple University
"Roy Ascott is a leading artist and writer in the field of art and technology, and a collection of his writings is long overdue. Edward Shanken's introduction addresses many issues relevant to contemporary culture, elucidating historical, social, and theoretical aspects of Ascott's work." Eduardo Kac, Associate Professor of Art and Technology, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Roy Ascott is President of the Planetary Collegium at the University of Plymouth, England and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Design/Media Arts, University of California Los Angeles. Edward A. Shanken is Professor of Art History, Savannah College of Art, Georgia.
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