Images (R)-Evolution: Media Arts Complex Imagery Challenging Humanities and Our Institutions of Cultural Memory


  • Oliver Grau


Considering its technological and thematical contexts, digital art conveys different – even more complex – potentials of expression than traditional art forms (such as sculptures, paintings, etc.), what makes digital art a paradigmatic expression of its time? This article emphasizes the variety of (complex) topics that are expressed within digital art, ranging from globalization, ecological and economic crises (virtual economy), media and image revolution to questions of the body and its societal norms. Due to the imminent problems of archiving, the digital arts are threatened by its loss – a problem that is reinforced by the insufficient practices of cultural institutions to display, collect and research digital art. Post-industrial societies require digital arts based on contemporary media dispositive to reflect upon current and future challenges, just like art history was always informed by its contemporary media technologies. By establishing concerted international strategies and new scientific tools it is the aim of this essay to provide a framework to enable media art histories and image science as well as the digital humanities to engage more fully with current digital developments in order to enable the humanities to meet with its (current) responsibilities. By discussing examples from a variety of projects from the natural sciences and the humanities, this article tries to demonstrate the strategic importance of these collective projects, especially in their growing importance for the humanities.