Device Art

Reading Device Art: A New Form of Media Art from a Japanese Perspective by Machiko Kusahara this morning in the train was a good way to start the day. The author describes what he intends by "device art", describing how this concept took shape on the basis of an analysis of works by contemporary Japanese media artists such as Toshio Iwai, Nobumichi Tosa (Maywa Denki), and Kazuhiko Hachiya:

"The concept is a logical extension of a change in the notion of art that already started in the early 20th century with art movements such as Dada and Surrealism. More recently, interactive art has redefined forms of art and the role of artists. What we call device art is a form of media art that integrates art and technology as well as design, entertainment, and popular culture. Instead of regarding technology as a mere tool serving the art, as it is commonly seen, we propose a model in which technology is at the core of artworks. (...) As a concept, Device Art is rooted in the analysis of the key role that devices play in certain types of art, that is, artworks involving hardware (a device) specifically designed to realize the artistic concept. The device itself can become the content. Technology is not hidden, its function is visible and easy to understand, while it still brings about a sense of wonder. Well designed interfaces made of the right materials facilitate interaction for users, often in a playful manner. (...) a device could be the "body" of an artwork that offers an artistic experience to its users / participants. In other words, the "resulting" experience cannot be separated from the device specifically designed or chosen to enable this experience. Producing multiple copies of such work and distributing it as a commercial product makes it accessible to a wider audience, provided the piece is designed in such a manner that anyone could use and enjoy it. An artist's concept could become a part of people's lives, rather than being kept in museums and galleries. Why not share art with more people?"

(Picture from the Bitman project by Ryota Kuwakubo)

Why do I blog this? what is important here is the idea that "device art" can be described as "a form of media art that integrates art and technology as well as design, entertainment, and popular culture". This is both a holistic AND a boundary object. It's not very surprising to read this from a japanese author but it's relevant to see the underlying motivations and reasons.

Also think about the contrasting approach with lots of projects we see in Europe or in the US that do take a totally different angle. I am thinking about recent robotic projects seen in Europe that really don't want to remove the existing boundaries.