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Multimedia artists are contemporary artists who use a wide range of media to communicate their art. Multimedia art includes, by definition, more than one medium, therefore multimedia artists use visual art in combination with sound art, moving images and other media. The art can take the form of installation art, found objects presented in an artistic form, or kinetic sculpture, among others.
It is important to distinguish between multimedia art and mixed media artworks. Within the visual arts, mixed media tends to refer to work that combines various traditionally distinct visual art media such as certain works of Frank Stella or Jane Frank which merge painting and sculpture, for example. A work on canvas that combines oil paint, newspaper collage, chalk, glass and ink, for example, could be called a "mixed media" work - but not multimedia. Multimedia art implies a broader scope than mixed media, as in creations combining visual art media with elements usually considered the proper domain of literature, drama, dance, film making, or music.
Multimedia artwork also frequently engages senses other than sight, such as hearing, touch, or smell. A multimedia artwork can also move, occupy time, or develop over time, rather than remaining static as with traditional media. Another frequent trait of multimedia artworks is the use of advanced technology, such as electronic or computer-generated sound, video, animation, and interactivity.
Certain traditional genres such as opera and film are inherently multidisciplinary or even "multimedia" in a very loose sense, since they involve drama, literature, visual art, music, dance, and costumes. Indeed, a union of the arts was exactly what Richard Wagner imagined in his ideal of the "Gesamtkunstwerk" or a "synthesis of the arts" (literally: "complete artwork").
Nevertheless, in contemporary terms, opera or even movies would not properly be considered "multimedia art." A work of multimedia art is usually mounted on a smaller scale than an opera or a movie and is typically created entirely by a single person (rather than the collaborative effort of opera or moviemaking). Multimedia works do not usually require performers. If performers are used, they are usually untrained people, as in audience members who interact with the piece, as opposed to trained singers or actors. Multimedia artwork is often presented in a curated museum or gallery setting, in which the piece is understood to be an extended form of visual art. The creator of a multimedia work of art is typically someone with a formal background in visual art.
Croatian scientist Fjodor Ruzic discusses in his book: “it is not just the sum of information in different media, but logically shaped, organized and integrated set of mutually connected media which together compose a multimedia document”.
In his book, Ruzic exposes the fact that we are confronted with a new form of media mostly presented with the term digital reshaping not only media industry but also a cultural milieu of an entire global basis. The discussion follows on the World Library idea that is rebuilding with new form of World Memory, or also known as collective intelligence. He also discusses the change from visible culture domination to the domination of invisible culture in the world of e-technologies predominance. From this scenario, information technology professionals coping with information systems projects, e-services development, and e-content design have more cultural responsibility than in the past when they worked within closer and inner cultural horizons and when their misuse of technologies had no influence on culture as a whole.
- Ruzic 2007, p.12
- Ruzic, Fjodor (2007). "Information-Communications Systems Convergence Paradigm: Invisible E-Culture and E-Technologies". Institute for Informatics.
- New education model: Multimedia art. By MA Vesna Srnic. The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp. 343–354, 2009).
- Tech Art History, Part 2, by Matthew Zuras. June 3, 2010.
- Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality, Edited by Randall Packer & Ken Jordan, W.W. Norton
- UEK Multimedia Artist: Turn That Bloody TV Off and Sound-in-Box, both 1991