Text on developments in the [artistic] field of new media production, written in 2002 for the magazine the muse apprentice guild

text alexandra reill | vienna 2002
production kanonmedia | vienna 2002
publisher august highland / the muse apprentice guild | new york city | us | 10/2002


Fast & superficial attitudes of consume have entered the consciousness of each individual living in the capitalized world to a very high degree. The manipulation by industrial groups via mass media has been accepted without any hesitation by nearly everybody. 

It is amazing that hardly any critical voices are heard any more. Even some artists do not seem to have understood how crucial the question is. 

The IT industry has succeeded in creating the necessity for nearly everyone to work on the computer. The end user has been happily and without any doubts prepared himself to jump on any of the new technology trains and thus enforce the majority of industrial strategies on a completely self-decided & free-will basis. 

At the same time every small and even mid-range company fights with technologies requiring high costs of updated IT infrastructure & time & work investments as well as behinderings through a high error rate in SW- & HW-products. All those factors create the necessity to spend budgets on IT activities which burden the productiveness of every enterprise to an absurdely high extent. None of these companies would ever admit how intense the trouble is. There seems to be no solution in sight. 

If even enterprises suffer from the fight through the IT jungle how should artists be able to develop qualitative new media projects ?

The expectations the new media artist is confronted with today seem to be completely out of realistic perspective. Without the involvement in commercial applications there is no chance for the new media artist to finance all the attempts necessary to produce good work & continuously improve the level of creative skills.

As much as innovative concepts & creative visuals new media require programming skills & the profound know-how of hard- & software tools. There is only very few artists around being able to offer such know-how & experience. The question really is – how can they even be expected to offer such expertise? 

At the same time the expertise of content & visual design a programmer is expected to offer can never be developed by the programmer to a degree that would be satisfactory. Such expectations are at least as unreal as the ones a designer is confronted with. 

Programming has its own class of creativity – strong logical visions & a continuous preciseness throughout the whole production process. Such qualities characterize a creative programmer being able to construct astonishing sites of thought. The programming process itself requests approaches which are diametrically opposed to those of a visual producer. While somebody working with forms & colors needs to choose the intuitive way to reach his best a programmer will get totally lost when following this approach. Logics will lead the programmer much further. 

There will hardly be anybody who is really able to be professional on all those sides. The cooperation of specialists coming out of completely different fields – the cooperation of artists & technicians, creative & commercial teams – & a strongly defined division of labor structures represent basic preconditions for successful new media production. 

New media projects are much too complex to be performed by one individual. This is why the classical debate of art sponsoring also needs reconsidering. It has gained a new impact. The social responsibility of industrial groups & governmental institutions has become more important than ever. Unfortunately, when it comes down to discussing new media projects with representatives of development funds one can notice that the preparedness to realize how expensive it is to engage in new media production has not been developed very far yet. Classical attitudes towards the evaluation of art works prevail without taking into account that quality is not only made of talent but needs equipment, continuous training & production time. 

Teams need to be financed. Within the process of production each of the specialists needs to learn & improve his / her skills. The space & time needed for research as well as for testing represent another major budgetary item. “Each of the longer form pieces I do is an attempt to learn the craft of animation. What I feel are weaknesses in the last animation give me an excuse to produce another in hopes of addressing these weaknesses. As I observe my progress it has come to me that I had better come up with a lot of more ideas.”* 

* Bruce Pukema, citated from Cyberarts 99, Springer 99, talking about his project Ronin Romance Classics. 

After ten years of working for the NBC television affiliate in Minneapolis as artist / art director Bruce Pukema founded Ronin Animation years ago. The context seems to be clear. The complexity of the new media production process itself is in completely inverse ratio to the preparedness of the private & governmental markets to invest in experimental & innovative new media research. On the contrary, in many nations investment in non-commercial & non-profit activities has been cut down more & more during the last decade. 

This situation is crucial. Its logical consequence is that new media artists are not able to finance art projects. It means that commercial applications will be the the only sectors left being acknowledged as processes serving society. The logical consequence ist the fall of philosophy and the fine arts.

The world of the arts & the commercial world have always been very different. The arts need to stay free. They need unconditioned liberty for their philosophical research & cannot subordinate themselves to any commercial goals. The financial necessity to combine artistic & commercial activities contributes to a decline of culture and is a starting point into a blind alley for any artist. 

An artist today needs to take social responsibility. It is his task to work for the cultural development of a society. Maybe more than ever it is important to sense one’s own authenticity & perform out of this individual position & conditioning. 

Integrity might be the attitude having become more important than ever for all sides involved at the early beginning of a century which seems to still hide its tasks & challenges.


— the muse apprentice guild / nyc / us / 02