Munster, Anna. Materializing New Media: Embodiment in Information Aesthetics. Interfaces, Studies in Visual Culture. 1st ed. Dartmouth, N.H.: Dartmouth College Press: Published by University Press of New England, 2006.
Munster’s project involves the argument that: “information aesthetics is capable of offering us both a critical commentary that folds back upon the broader flows of a more reductive information culture and a new kind of aesthetics that unfolds into new sensory spaces for lived experience” (Munster 2006: 38). It is this “new aesthetics” that I am particularly interested in, which she discusses in the last chapters of the book. This is important because it is going to help us move beyond the visual and toward a theory of embodied aesthetic engagement with new media. Munster discusses many accounts of new media art. Munster writes “These kinds of new media artworks neither promise a direct relation to the sensorium rendered by informatic visualization nor bypass the body altogether. Rather they suggest that any future for embodiment in the landscape of information must leave space for the aesthetic processes of composition. This is not a space marked by a controlling, organizing subject or cogito who looks back at its body from the outside or a technology that adopts a similar position of knowingly representing the body. This space is instead inflected by the shadow and absence of the self, as the bodily silhouettes of participants are projected onto the topology of biological visualization. This shadowy figure is the mark of the death of the subject as knowable, manageable or reducible to a recognizable pattern of information.” (145).
Munster offers her thoughts in several places, regarding what a new aesthetics can do:
“These experiences of crossing thresholds between here and there, continuous and differentiated, corporeal and incorporeal, are common facets of engaging with virtual and telepresent technologies and environments. Thought about the body and actual sensory participation and engagement must be re-engaged in our analysis of digital culture in order to assist with this kind of threshold experience” (9).
“But if we recast the digital as an aesthetic force capable of producing new kinds of sensations and affective responses, we might instead see it as belonging to the activity of imagining” (94).
“Information aesthetics now needs to invent an affectivity for its culture from the sensations and perceptions that its technologies produce.” (116).