Now and Then: The possibilities for contextual content in digital art

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The paper begins by considering the relative lack of emphasis on con- text (other than that of the technical means of production) in much con- temporary Digital Art. For many works, there is no context other than that provided by the computational infrastructure required for to be experienced. Other than this, the work remains identical regardless of physical location, the time elapsed since its creation or who is using it. As an artist interested in social process, this placing of artefacts and experiences outside of some of the usual means for developing cultural meaning and reference is troubling and unsatisfactory (although the point is made that successful works do not necessarily require contex- tual content to produce a satisfying user experience).
The author then explores what ‘context’ might constitute for digi- tal art works and how context might be generated and validated in a post-physical age (referencing Walter Benjamin’s ideas about repro- duction and authenticity and also considering Philip Auslander’s tax- onomy of live performance).
After this theoretical discussion, the paper then uses the provision- al conclusions about the possible nature(s) of digital context to exam- ine ways that increasing access to semantically tagged networked data might allow artists to produce works which embody social (and other contexts) in ways that other, physically based, genres take for granted. Semantic tagging as a context-producing mechanism is examined and ideas about future web and knowledge developments by Tim Bern- ers-Lee and Pierre Levy are explored as potential avenues for generat- ing resources for digital artists.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcs ICLI 2014 - INTER-FACE
EditorsAdriana Sa, Miguel Carvalhais, Alex Mclean
Place of PublicationOporto
PublisherPorto University
ISBN (Print)978-989-746-060-9
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventINTER_FACE: International Conference on Live Interfaces - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 19 Nov 201423 Nov 2014


ConferenceINTER_FACE: International Conference on Live Interfaces


  • Interactive Digital Art
  • Context
  • Liveness
  • Semantic Web.


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