Art and Electronic Media

“a model for new media books to come” – Art in America

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It is a superb work of scholarship, marked by clarity, subtlety, and comprehensive vision. Art and Electronic Media does us all a great service. More than any other publication that I know of, it will bring our field of practice into the mainstream of art.  – Roy Ascott


Art and Electronic Media by Edward Shanken demonstrates the formidable history of artistic uses of electronic media, a history that parallels the growing pervasiveness of technology in all facets of life. Over 200 artists and institutions from more than 30 countries are represented. The centrality of artists as theorists and critics is reflected in the focus on artists’ writings. The goal is to enable the rich genealogy of art and electronic media to be understood and seen as central to the histories of art and visual culture.

If you think it’s pretty on the outside, this Special Preview (1.3MB) offers an extensive sampling of the book’s ideas, images, and design.

Like other volumes in the Themes and Movements series, the book is divided into three main sections: Survey, Works, and Documents. The richly illustrated Survey provides an overview of the field beginning in the early 20th century and focusing on the period from the 1950s to the present. The Works section includes nearly 200 additional color plates with extensive, descriptive captions. The Documents section consists of theoretical writings, primarily by artists, that played an important role in defining the field.

In order to foreground continuities across periods, genres and media, author Edward Shanken has organized the book around 7 thematic streams that run through the Survey, Documents, and Works sections:

  • Motion, Duration, Illumination
  • Coded Form and Electronic Production
  • Charged Environments
  • Networks, Surveillance, Culture Jamming
  • Bodies, Surrogates, Emergent Systems
  • Simulations and Simulacra
  • Exhibitions, Institutions, Communities, Collaborations

The volume also includes a section of biographies of the artists and authors whose work is included in the Works and Documents sections, a bibliography, and a comprehensive index.

Praise for Art and Electronic Media:

“a model for new media books to come” – Art in America

“It’s the best book of its kind” – Casey Reas

“This book will be quoted for decades to come” – Eduardo Kac

“Indispensible” – Lynn Hershman Leeson

It’s very important – a big step in integrative art historical strategies…. really pulls new media out of the ghetto.” – Patrick Lichty

… one of the bibles on the subject…. avoids the navel gazing of art and extends to other fields of human knowledge and thought, from experimental science to pure philosophy….”
– José Manuel Costa

–  …integrates renowned and underground artists in an effective collection of works of art that coherently use and abuse communication rules and tools.” – Alessandro  Ludovico, Neural

–  Shanken unpacks what is now often called new media art into fathomable themes… As well as his thought-provoking essay, there are images from seminal yet disregarded figures in electronic media. – Art World

“The book balances the historical and the contemporary, the analytic and the particular, with style and critical rigor…. Art and Electronic Media will become a staple in the field: the go-to sourcebook for years to come.” – Carolyn Kane, Rhizome

– the book might … bring media art in the radar of contemporary art…. establishing … bridges between media art and the rest of the art world…. Art and Electronic Media should be compulsory reading for students interested in art and technology. – Regine DeBatty, We Make Money Not Art

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Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon Press, 2009, 2011, 2014. 304 pages. ISBN Hard:  9780714847825; Paper: 9780714868585


Written by Edward Shanken

March 15, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized