The term “multimedia” is used to describe works of art that incorporate a variety of media (materials), including technological media that appeal to multiple senses, not just to sight. New media works use new technologies like video, computers, and/or virtual reality. Because technology is constantly evolving, the definition of “new media” is also in flux. Some multimedia and new media works may be discrete works of art; others may be installations, or part of performance art.
How do you look at multimedia and new media works?
- What media are used?
- What is the relationship between the various media? How do they interact with each other? How or what does each medium contribute to the whole work?
- Was the media or technology new or innovative at the time the work was made, or was it already older? (Remember that technology changes quickly, so what was new just a few years ago may appear dated today.)
- Do you sense that the artist is intrigued by or critical of technology’s future, or nostalgic for the past? Why do you think this?
- Does the work allude to, is the work in dialogue with, or was the work influenced by, other art practices or media, such as painting, sculpture, or the popular media? How so?
- If the work has a film or video component…
- How is it different from the cinema? What do you think distinguishes an art film/video from an amateur or a commercial film/video?
- Is the film/video a work of art or documentation? Does it fall somewhere in between?
- Are there other elements to the work? If so, what are they and how do they relate to the film/video?
- Is the audience meant to be an active participant in the work or a passive viewer?
- Does your movement or your actions affect the work? How so? How does the work change? What must you do? What happens when you stop?
- If the work is participatory, how does this alter your understanding of what an artist is, if at all?
- How much control do you think the artist has over your interpretation of the work? Why do you think this? Does this matter?
- What do you think the work is about? What is its content or subject matter? Why do you think this?
- Does the work relate to issues of identity, gender, sexuality, or race? How so?
- Does the work allude to cultural, social, historical, political, or psychological issues? How so?
- Does the work make any art historical, literary, philosophical, or theoretical references? How so?
- Is the work narrative? If so, is it auto-biographical? Is it true or fictitious? Why do you think this? How does the narrative unfold? Is it linear or fragmented?
Want to know more?
Related “How Do You Look?” Guides
Works in the Nasher’s Collection
Reality of My Surroundings: The Contemporary Collection (Oct. 1, 2015 – July 10, 2016)
Richard Mosse: The Enclave (Aug. 27, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016)
Area 919: Artists in the Triangle (Jan. 24, 2015 – April 12, 2015)
The Cinematic Impulse(June 29 – Sept. 8, 2013)
The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl (Sept. 2, 2010 – Feb. 6, 2011)
Lines of Attack: Conflicts in Caricature (Feb. 4 – May 16, 2010)
Christian Marclay: Video Quartet (May 7 – July 26, 2009)
Barrett, Edward, ed. Sociomedia: Multimedia, Hypermedia, and the Social Construction of Knowledge. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1992.
Benford, Steve, and Gabriella Giannachi. Performing Mixed Reality. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2011.
Berry, David M., ed. Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation and Design. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
Celant, Germaine, and Gianfranco Maraniello, eds. Vertigo: A Century of Multimedia Art from Futurism to the Web. Exh. cat. Milan: Skira, 2008.
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Elwes, Catherine. Installation and the Moving Image. London: Wallflower Press, 2015.
Goldberg, Roselee. Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present. Third ed. London and New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001.
Graham, Beryl, ed. New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences After New Media Art. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014.
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Grau, Oliver, ed., with Thomas Veigl. Imagery in the 21st Century. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2011.
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Kholeif, Omar, ed. Electronic Superhighway: From Experiments in Art and Technology to Art After the Internet. London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2016.
Kholeif, Omar, ed. You Are Here: Art After the Internet. Manchester: Cornerhouse; London: SPACE, 2014.
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Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Translated by Niamh Warde. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2013.
Lovejoy, Margaret. Art and Artists in the Age of Electronic Media. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989.
McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. New York: Random House, 1967.
McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.
Michalka, Matthias. Changing Channels: Art and Television, 1963-1987. Exh. cat. Cologne: Walther König, 2010.
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Ricardo, Franciso J. The Engagement Aesthetic: Experiencing New Media Art Through Critique. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.
Rinehart, Richard, and Jon Ippolito. Re-Collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2014.
Rush, Michael. New Media in Art. New ed. London and New York: 2005.
Schimmel, Paul, ed. Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object, 1949-1979. Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 1998.
Shanken, Edward A., ed. Art and Electronic Media. London and New York: Phaidon, 2009.
Shanken, Edward A., ed. Systems. London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2015.