Delle Maxwell

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Most Recent Affiliation:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Architecture Machine Group


  • Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America

Writings and Presentations:

  • Title: The Emperor's New Art?
    Writing Type: Paper
    Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1991: Art and Design Show
    Abstract Summary:

    Premature over-promotion of any and all “artwork” created with computers has caused art critics to feel as if they are being asked to admire the Emperor’s New Clothes. At the same time, computer artists accuse art critics of being uninformed, myopic, and hopelessly out of touch with the new media concerns.

    Artists visiting computer art shows disdain the oft-exhibited science fiction grotesqueries masquerading as art: Bad critical reception is said to be because of this “nerd” aesthetic. On the other hand, technical-minded factions also wonder when computer artists will actually learn to program, or produce something besides canned paint system imagery and indecipherable bad video tapes. Such squabbling and shifting of the blame from one group to the next is not the way to correct the problem.

    Adding to the problem is the fact that standards by which we have evaluated computer art have evolved outside of the “high art” community and tend to be too low. Often the concepts of science and tools of technology are merely appropriated and exhibited as art without true artistic transformation or social context. Furthermore, when work refers to contemporary art world trends, it often does so as a form of imitation or serves merely to reinforce what we already know about image making. Without true understanding of either art or science and technology, this work can hardly help being superficial.

    We need to fairly evaluate work using standards as high as those by which the rest of the arts are judged. We need to extend beyond the isolation of our small community and address broader issues. Most importantly, we need to take advantage of the uniqueness of computing and push its properties to their limits. Only as these issues are addressed and resolved will computer art gain in significance and authenticity.

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