AurieaHarvey About Contact Index Random
Trail: BeautyInTheAgeOfDigitalArt



moderators: Maja Kuzmanovic (FoAM) and Michael Samyn (Tale of Tales)
wednesday may 24, 2006 3pm
matrix art project, brussels

Let’s talk about aesthetics - a term that became a taboo in many contemporary arts circles for nearly a decade. Swept away as the frilly fluff that adorns much of the mainstream entertainment, in the ‘media arts’, beauty became subordinate to elaborate concepts, social context, critical theory and technological functionality. However, we are quite sure that even the most rigorous of media artists like to see, hear, touch, wear and immerse themselves in an atmosphere which resonates with their aesthetic sensibilities. We would like to know what are these sensibilities and how people incorporate them in their artistic adventures. How does aesthetics relate to the technologies we use and develop? Is it dictated by the tools, or can we bend the tools to make something we consider beautiful? When we work on collaborative projects, do people make compromises, or do they give each other a ‘carte-blanche’? Is there such a thing as ‘democratic aesthetics’? Can different people’s aesthetics connect or disconnect a piece together in distributed, networked, realtime performances? And finally, how do we talk about it, without offending anyone’s most intimate sensibilities?

With: Guy van Belle (Society of Algorithm,, Auriea Harvey (Tale of Tales), Lawrence Malstaf and Bartaku (and jodi too, it seems -Au)
more info:

see also:aesthetics


Auriea: Your work has often been praised as very feminine, digital
eye-candy. What does beauty mean in your work? In your situation, does
working collaboratively mean compromise, fusion or multiplication? Do
players/users react to your particular aesthetic choices? Do you want to
make things that appeal to many different audiences and if yes, how?
What emotional states does making and/or experiencing beautiful things
provoke in you? What is it about fairy tales that makes them such
fertile material for your work?

Considering the senses

Somewhere in the modern era a definition of beauty was lost. Especially in new media art, artists associate beauty with the creation of simple visual “prettiness”. As if aesthetics are something shallow which should not be part of the equation when designing technological systems. In the meantime offline art has become simplified to commodity, decoration and private possession while audiences are left to the mercy of a poorly designed pop culture. My standpoint is that beauty is a language that communicates to entire cultures and should be shared with the masses. In my small case, it is shared with networked communities. I look into past eras for a lost history of beauty. One which is deeper than the surface of what one can see. As a creator of 3D interactive environments I feel there is an opportunity to connect to artistic traditions of storytelling and craft through design. In virtual environments filled with non-verbal and multi-sensory narratives, design is about architecting the experience of interaction for the audience. This requires considering the entire aesthetic illusion. It is most important to ensure that the confrontation between audience and virtual world communicates the intended message but also allows imaginations to run wild. Beauty of the totality of the world an interactor experiences, concentrating on the big world and not just individual elements and not stopping at a pretty picture is essential to achieving these goals.

What new media art doesn’t consider enough are the bodies of those who experience.