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Social formations of global media art

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The absence of an uninterrupted, lived tradition of critical inquiry into and artistic engagement with technology led to the spread of certain ideologies regarding media or digital media which can be characterised as determinist, instrumentalist and essentialist. Such discourses emerge not only in the myths of cypertopians, but in the practical policies of development projects. Offered as a magic bullet, new technologies have consistently failed the developing world. But the history of social and artistic experiments in new media has also thrown up a number of alternative ways both of conceptualising new media and organising around them. Despite their sixty years of history, ‘new’ media have proved to be adaptable in the hands of innovative and inventive users determined to bend the technology to local requirements. This issue addresses the historical not in an effort to effect a museumisation of new media art, but as a repository of challenges to the naturalised organisation of media, new and old, and the acceptance of them as forces of nature rather than human constructions.

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