Book

Author Letizia Jaccheri
For Norwegian click here.

Introduction

The vision of ArTe is disseminating IT issues to Norwegian and International teen-agers (13-15) with focus on creativity, cooperation, and openness of processes and content. The ArTe contest encourages students of age 13 to 15 to work in meaningful cooperative projects with the goal of producing novel forms of new media art. Artworks must address openness issues.

ArTe is a resource for projects in new media art.
By new media art, we mean all forms of art that exploit information technology (IT). Examples of new media art are, but are not limited to, digital images, videos, music, games, digital stories and poems, as well as interactive installations.

ArTe focus on openness in different ways. This means either exploitation of one or more open source software tools, or re-use of artworks with open licenses such as Creative Commons when developing artwork of your own. By open source software tools we mean tools that are available for everybody and that can be not only downloaded and used but also inspected and modified.

The book tells a story about new media art and openness by having in mind the ArTe vision. I have in mind two main topics around which I want to organise the knowledge about new media art and openness. These are:

  • The relation between the author and the audience.
  • The media of the artwork and its technology support.
  1. The relation between the author and the audience
  2. Some cultural objects have an author we are aware of. Let us take a statue in Vigeland park. It is a cultural object, its author is Gustav Vigeland. We all understand this.
    However, the way in which cultural objects have been produced by its authors and fruited by its audience has changed during the years. Here we can think of prehistorical drawings or of mythological stories transmitted and shared by oral tradition for which we even do not know who the author(s) was. In contemporary times, we can think of Microsoft Powerpoint, which I have been using since the early 90’s. It is a cultural object. It is sold by Microsoft. But who is the author of Microsoft Powerpoint? Let us look at the artworks presented in the new media art section. Is it always possible to define one single author for each artwork? For some artworks, the answer is no. For Sonic Onyx for example, the artist is Samir M’kadmi but the artwork could not have been produced without the cooperative efforts of several other actors. For the Open Wall, we do not even write about one author, but we let the concept of authorship to be open.

    Each author aims at sharing his production with an audience. Each author should be able to decide who and how should benefit of his artwork.
    Licenses (See Section Licenses) enable authors to specify rights to use and to make copies of artworks.

    When I go to the cinema, I buy a ticket to see a film. This is the accepted model of producing and sharing culture and the one which was in use by most publishers and music industry before the advent of internet. When I buy a book, I buy the right to read it. This is the model according to which an author sells the right of copying and distributing its artwork to a publisher. The publishers sells copies of the artwork to the readers. In the first years of software development, a software programs was usually developed by its users. Later on, software companies started to produce software to sell and they adopted an economical model similar to that of publishers. Since software, like all objects represented as computer media can be technically copied at zero cost, software companies decided to sell licenses to use software rather than the software itself. This is the same model adopted by Apple when selling music through itunes. When you buy a computer game on the Internet, you buy a license to use that game. This is a model that works for somebody but concentrates the power of producing culture to few authors and the economic power around culture to few industries.

  3. The media format
  4. We understand that the representation of Sinnataggen is not open. We, as users or audience, can see the sculpture and we have right to take pictures or even to reproduce it in 3D. But our reproductions will not have an impact on the original one. The format of a printed book is somehow more open than that of a sculpure in Vigeland park as we can copy it by help of a copy machine, or a scanner. Or we can type the book again. If I type again a book, for example A Doll’s House: a play by Ibsen does not make me to be the author of the book. When a cultural object is represented as a computer medium (file), it can technically be replicated at zero cost. If a cultural object is represented as a file, it is technically more open than a printed book, buts still its nature can inhibit some users to use it. This is the case when the representation requires technical capabilities that are not present on my computer. See section See Section Formats below.
    The media of the artwork is strongly linked to the the technology (tools) used to realise the artwork.
    Section Tools lists and explains a set of possible open source tools that have been used and can be used to develop cultural objects. This list is not complete and must be taken as a set of suggestions.

These two topics helps to structure a body of knowledge that spans in time from 1826 (the year of the invention of photography) to 2009 (the year of opening of the new ars electronica senter). Section new media art contains a time line that for each time period summarises both important technology innovations and artistic trends around the topics author-audience and artwork media. Section openness is organised around author-audience, media format, and tools, as well. Section openness introduces licenses, formats, and tools.
Licenses are about the degree of openness between author and audience. Formats of pictures, videos, sound, and text can be open and free to be accessed by everybody or they can be bound to specific industry such as Microsoft or Adobe.

While section new media art gives an historical reconstruction of technology from photography, to film, to computer, internet and web, in section openness I make the precise choice of presenting eight contemporary tools which are open source and which makes possible to produce pictures, animations, sound files, digital stories, and interactive installations.

Moreover, section new media refers to a set of Norwegian artists and some of their artworks with the purpose of inspiring the readers who want to engage in artistic production.

Audience of the book

The web site artentnu.com is explicitly conceived for “Ungdomskole” pupils as ArTe is a NFR project targeted toward dissemination of Information Technology to this group of people. This must be a resource for the book but not a constraint. The material that I have been collected (pictures, videos, music) and the text that I have written and I aim to give in book format, is relevant to other categories of people:

IT people will reflect on software and be aware of its creativity and aesthetics issues. This hypothesis is confirmed by the participations of IT industry both as jury experts in the ArTe competition and as sponsors. IT people will be even more aware of other aspects of software, like music, video, story telling that have a big economic impact as they are driving the game industry, on of the most growing industry in the world.

Artists will benefit from an explanation of software terms and tools in a language, my language, that has technical foundations, but it used and trained to conversations and cooperation with artists as well. See artists participation in the jury, see references to artists in the new media art part. All these artists, expect from Nordheim whom I have chosen because he is a pioneer in the electronic arts in Norway, I have chosen as they are or have been my cooperation partners.

Normal audience, including young people, will read a different story about software. Software has now entered each house and each mobile telephone but most of the people remain unaware of software issues. The provided tools are all available for downloading and use for each one who wants to enrich his hobby repertoire and his creativity possibilities by learning how to experiment with pictures, sound, video, story telling, and even simple programming. Normal audience will be empowered by an increased knowledge about tools and new media art possibilities that will transform them from users to producers of meaningful content.


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