Telematic art is a descriptive of art projects using computer mediated telecommunications networks as their medium. Telematic art challenges the traditional relationship between active viewing subjects and passive art objects by creating interactive, behavioural contexts for remote aesthetic encounters. Telematics was first coined by Simon Nora and Alain Minc in The Computerization of Society. Roy Ascott sees the telematic art form as the transformation of the viewer into an active participator of creating the artwork which remains in process throughout its duration. Ascott has been at the forefront of the theory and practice of telematic art since 1978 when he went online for the first time, organizing different collaborative online projects.
Although Ascott was the first person to name this phenomenon, the first use of telecommunications as an artistic medium has occurred in 1922 when the Hungarian constructivist artist László Moholy-Nagy made the work Telephone Pictures. This work questioned the idea of the isolated individual artist and the unique art object. In 1932 Bertold Brecht emphasized the idea of telecommunications as an artistic medium in his essay 'The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication'. In this essay Brecht advocated the two-way communication for radio to give the public the power of representation and to pull it away from the control of corporate media. Art historian Edward A. Shanken has authored several historical accounts of telematic art, including "From Cybernetics to Telematics: The Art, Pedagogy, and Theory of Roy Ascott."
In 1977 'Satellite Arts Project' by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz used satellites to connect artists on the east and west coast of the United States. This was the first time that artists were connected in a telematic way. With the support of NASA the artists produced composite images of participants, enabling an interactive dance concert amongst geographically disparate performers. An estimated audience of 25,000 saw bi-coastal discussions on the impact of new technologies on art, and improvised, interactive dance and music performances that were mixed in real time and shown on a split screen. These first satellite works emphasized the primacy of process that remained central to the theory and practice of telematic art.
Ascott used telematics for the first time in 1978 when he organized a computer-conferencing project between the United States and the United Kingdom called Terminal Art. For this project he used Jacques Vallée's Infomedia Notepad System, which made it possible for the users to retrieve and add information stored in the computer’s memory. This made it possible to interact with a group of people to make "aesthetic encounters more participatory, culturally diverse, and richly layered with meaning". Ascott did more similar projects like Ten Wings which was part of Robert Adrian’s The World in 24 Hours in 1982. The most important telematic artwork of Ascott is La Plissure du Texte from 1983. This project allowed Ascott and other artists to participate in collectively creating texts to an emerging story by using computer networking. This participation has been termed as ‘distributed authorship’. But the most significant matter of this project is the interactivity of the artwork and the way it breaks the barriers of time and space. In the late 1980s the interest in this kind of project using computer networking expanded, especially with the release of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s.
French side story
In terms of telematic art, France has had a special destiny. Indeed, from 1982 thanks to the Minitel, this country had a public telematic infrastructure more than a decade before the outbreak of the World Wide Web (1994). Attempts of telematic art of the 70' and 80', which consisted mainly of point-to-point connections, could therefore take a different turn in France. As reported by Don Foresta, Karen O'Rourke, and Gilbertto Prado, several French artists made some collective art experiments, using the Minitel, among them: Jean-Claude Anglade, Jacques-Elie Chabert, Frédéric Develay, Jean-Marc Philippe, Fred Forest, Marc Denjean and Olivier Auber. These experiments, mostly forgotten but some still up and running (Poietic Generator), foreshadowed applications that were developed later on the web, especially the "social networks" (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), at the same time they were offering theoretical critiques.
Pop culture & Mass media
The Telematic art is now being used more frequently by televised performers.Shows such as American Idol, MTV, and other shows that are based highly form viewer polls incorporate telematic art. This type of consumer applications is now grouped under the term "transmedia".
- Ascott, Roy.(2003).Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness. (Ed.) Edward A. Shanken. Berkeley, CA:University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-21803-1
- Simon Nora and Alain Minc, The Computerization of Society (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1980): 4-5.
- Ascott, Roy (2003). Edward A. Shanken, ed. Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- See Carl Eugene Loeffler and Roy Ascott, Chronology and Working Survey of Select Communications Activity in Leonardo (Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology), vol. 24, N° 2 , 1991, p. 236.
- Ascott(2003): 61
- Ascott(2003): 63
- Ascott(2003): 64
- Don Foresta : Chronologie historique résumée d'échanges artistiques par télécommunications. Les précurseurs, jusqu'en 1995, avant l'Internet (PDF)
- Karen O'Rourke: "Art, réseaux, télécommunications", in Mutations de l’image : Art Cinéma/ Vidéo/ Ordinateur (eds. Maria Klonaris et Katerina Thomadaki) Paris, Astarti, 1994, pp.52-57. PDF
- Gilbertto Prado : CRONOLOGIA DE EXPERIÊNCIAS ARTÍSTICAS NAS REDES DE TELECOMUNICAÇÕES (Web)
- Jean-Claude Anglade: Image-la-Vallée, vitrail monumental dessiné collectivement par minitel, 1987 (Web)
- , Jacques-Elie Chabert, Vertiges, an interactive novel, 1984
- Frédéric Develay: Art Accès, a journal,1984
- Jean-Marc Philippe: Action télématique hybridant des installations radio-astronomiques, 1987
- Fred Forest: Utilisation du réseau de préfiguration Minitel de Vélizy, 1982
- Marc Denjean : Action télématique hybridant la radio, 1984
- Olivier Auber: Poietic Generator (1986), Exposition "Communication et Monumentalité", Centre Georges Pompidou, 1990.
- Esquisse d'une position théorique pour un art de la vitesse, Olivier Auber, SPEED 1997
- Ascott, Roy(2003).Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness. (Ed.) Edward A. Shanken. Berkeley, CA:University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-21803-1
- Ascott, R. 2002. Technoetic Arts (Editor and Korean translation: YI, Won-Kon), (Media & Art Series no. 6, Institute of Media Art, Yonsei University). Yonsei: Yonsei University Press
- Ascott, R. 1998. Art & Telematics: toward the Construction of New Aesthetics. (Japanese trans. E. Fujihara). A. Takada & Y. Yamashita eds. Tokyo: NTT Publishing Co.,Ltd.
- O'Rourke, K., ed. 1992. Art-Réseaux (with articles in English by Roy Ascott, Carlos Fadon Vicente, Mathias Fuchs, Eduardo Kac, Paulo Laurentiz, Artur Matuck, Frank Popper, and Stephen Wilson) Paris, Editions du CERAP.
- Shanken Edward A. 2000, Tele-Agency: Telematics, Telerobotics, and the Art of Meaning. Art Journal, issue 2 2000.