Art and Aesthetics Mediated Through Technology

Time for Media Intervention!

How do we make sense of the world at large, our world, and others’ worlds is one indispensable question that should be asked each time we feel something. Feeling something, to me, is a primitive right of any living organism to (re-)embody the embodied. You may define it in terms of the embodied mind, extended mind, distributed and social distributed cognition, or situated action, or something else.

But today we are so caught up with the fast pace of progresses, thanks to technological advancement, that we rarely give ourselves time to think what is actually going on here (or there, or both). Many keywords come to the surface as we speak about the latest technologies: Network, Mobility, Archives, Global Mnemotechnics, Transversality…etc. They are very different, and incredibly important, ecologies of thoughts that interrelate with each other one way or another. Matthew Fuller’s definitions of ‘Art Methodologies’ (2008) comprehensively encapsulate the need to rediscover our perceptual capacities (starting from physical sensory adaptations to mental articulations, or vice versa) to understand worldly situations, and relate (or be related by others) to and belong in the world with a stronger grip, a deeper resonance:

Art methodologies

convey art’s capacities to enact a live process in the world, launching sensorial particles and other conjunctions in ways and combinations that renew their powers of disturbance and visions…

are a range of ways of sensing, doing and knowing generated in arts that are now circulating more haphazardly, perhaps less systematically, and requiring of a renewed form of understanding in order to trace and develop them…

cultural entities, embodied in speech, texts, sounds, behaviours and the modes of connection between things that share and develop, work on, art’s capacity of disturbance and the multi-scalar engorgement of perception.

(Fuller, 2008)

I would imagine Art as intersections of socio-cultural transactions. They excite our sensory adaptors with visualised data – data that are simulacra of cultural phenomena. Their embodied meanings have a role in evoking, and simultaneously shaping, memories, knowledge and conceptions. Perhaps they are just one of the many media that persist as perceptual frameworks. But I think Art itself is a profound culture. And as culture, its genealogically interwoven associations with individuals, and communities as a whole, may assign it with a greater affordance to affect, or be affected, than any other means of expression. Nevertheless, I do also agree with Neil Postman that another way to think of culture is to identify culture as a conversation:

or, more precisely, a corporation of conversations, conducted in a variety of symbolic modes. (Postman, 1985)

As I think of conversation as one technique of communications, the artefact of Art becomes transducers of cultural codes/meanings/symbols. And in this age of information-clash at light speed, it is even more so in the sense that Art is basically generative.

Emoticons: New ways to FEEL

The first example that I’m using to prelude this artistic discussion is Reza Ali’s emoticon project called ‘OMG‘ (2012). ‘OMG’ is an emoticon project, sponsored by Samsung, that invite several artists to create new ways of understanding interactions between, and functional transversals of, social norms and cultural phenomena in the usages of mobile phones. While Ali attempts to express the aesthetics of human’s bodily productions, for example voice, through designing interactive computational algorithms, his respects to the intriguing relationships between human being and Nature are his own unique articulations of sensing/thinking about the world. In the following clip, Ali talks about the source of ‘OMG’ coming from the human’s perspective as various kinds of emotions and how such sensations might be transformed into pleasant visual simulations. The momentum that ‘OMG’ carries is this zeal to explore, as like an affect, that sustain ongoing transformations. And explorations are definitely one of the primary elements for innovation.

Here’s a sneak peek at an ‘OMG’ (image source is referenced below):

To check out more on ‘OMG’, go to Reza Ali’s blog.

I see ‘OMG’ as an active ecological set of processes in which the voice is activated/augmented through visual dynamism. So as we interact with Ali’s algorithms, our voice is visualised, with a carry-on effect, through zealous cycles of decoding and encoding patterns of utterance. Our vocal identity emerges as we engage with the interface.


But how does today’s Art transcend that experience we have with our sensorium? 

Our judgments and definitions of beauty/sublimity are rooted in shared fundamental parameters reflective of the genealogy of cultural rituals and social norms. The extent to which we feel/perceive/think about things in congruency signifies firm establishments of ideological/ontological frameworks in context.

However, as modern technologies become more integrated into our everyday lives cultural codes begin to shift, from place to place, from time to time. Deleuze’s ideas of Art as objectiles enunciate the displacement of conventional cultural codes by proliferating norms, such that

the object assumes a place in a continuum by variation…temporal modulation. (Deleuze, p. 19)

Keyword: “Generative”


Ali, Reza (2012), ‘OMG’, Reza Ali: Inspired to be Inspiring, weblog, 14th March, accessed 18th May 2012, <>

Ali, Reza (2012), ‘OMG by Reza Ali’, Youtube clip, accessed 20th March 2012, <>

Deleuze, Gilles (1993), The Fold, University of Minnesota Press.

Fuller, Matthew (2008), ‘Art Methodologies in Media Ecology’, SPC Brief, weblog, October, accessed 18th May 2012, <>

Postman, N. (1985), Amusing Ourselves to DeathPublic Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Penguin Group, New York

Image Sources

Ali, Reza (2012):


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