Media @ McGill

"Architectural Media / Mediatic Architecture"

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Nicolas Holt

 

Televisual technologies saw an unprecedented proliferation in the late-1960s and early-1970s. Media infrastructures were expanding at a rapid pace and global information networks began to structure the way humans communicated and consumed electronic audio-visual material. My doctoral research project will investigate the intersections between new media, architecture and infrastructure, focusing primarily on the work of early video artists collected around the journal Radical Software.

Contributors to Radical Software such as Juan Downey, Frank Gillette, Ira Schneider, and Beryl Korot were in conversation with these emerging, networked, electronic infrastructures of the period. I aim to study the ways in which their artworks constructed media-architectures by mobilizing information and communication technologies (particularly video and television) in relation to the pre-given architectural surround of the exhibition space. The new media installations created by these artists operate analogously to architecture; they propose specific pathways for the navigation and mediation of a given space. This concept of space is extended, however, by the inclusion of real-time image/sound technologies such as video linked to global media infrastructures like television. Visitors to such installations simultaneously experience space as both “here” (the space of their body within in an installation) as well as “there” (a more virtual space generated by the presence of image-based media). The overall objective of my PhD research is to reassess these pioneer explorations of media-architectures as pre-figurations of digital – spatial and environmental – media.

Early experimentations in the correspondence between actual and virtual space have direct – if not fully acknowledged – ties to the emerging activities of augmented reality (AR) technologies today. Linking these two would not only entail keeping a keen art historical and media archaeological eye on the coming together of new media, architecture and infrastructure; it would also allow for the charting of generative trajectories between present day art development and its historical antecedents. The work of connecting the two elaborates our contemporary condition while excavating the thought, technologies, and activities that have made it possible.