Making Contact with Artful CD-ROMs

Abstract

on the art scene in the last few years. Paradoxically, CD-ROMs came into their own as an artful medium by using existing media and reconfiguring and articulating them together in new ways. One of the crucial moments of this articulation is the moment of interactivity, the moment during which these constitutive media are fundamentally disrupted. To discuss the reconfiguring and rearticulation of existing media in CD-ROM art, I have chosen a number of examples from Contact Zones: The Art of CD-ROM, a traveling exhibition curated by Timothy Murray of Cornell University. This exhibition, which is itself a landmark in the CD-ROM’s emergence as an art form, is impressive in its scale— more than 50 CD-ROMs from 18 countries. Until this exhibition reaches a venue near you, you can get a sense of its richness and the provocative questions it opens through its Web presence, http://contactzones.cit.cornell.edu/. (To contact Murray about the exhibition, e-mail him at tcm1@cornell.edu.) Shock in the Ear I begin with sound, the focus of my own artistic practice. Sound was once the more neglected medium in CD-ROMs, in part due to the software (the need to push programs like Macromind and Macromedia Director to their very limits) and hardware (especially PC-based). Recently, however, sound has been used more seriously in a number of artful CD-ROMs. These works have made it evident how sound and image, when created and articulated together in innovative ways, have the potential to open interactive possibilities beyond simple point-andclick, and instead to immerse the user in emotional, sonic, and visual texture. Thus, artists have been able to work with the initmacy of the medium. And intimacy is one of the crucial features of CD-ROM art—it allows a work to move beyond the often criticized zone of depleted sociality into an intense and affective space. When sound and image suddenly meet, at the moment of the user’s interaction, users can experience an intimate engagement and pleasure distinctive to CD-ROM. These are the sorts of concerns that animated Shock in the Ear, a CD-ROM created by visual artist Maria Miranda and myself, in collaboration with Greg White, Richard Vella, and David Bartolo. Our desire was to use shock both formally and conceptually. We also wanted to explore the shocking concept that a different sort of sound and image together could disrupt the then dominant CD-ROM aesthetics and kinaesthetics. (See http://sysx .org/shock_in_the_ear/index.html.)

DOI: 10.1109/93.839305

Cite this paper

@article{Neumark2000MakingCW, title={Making Contact with Artful CD-ROMs}, author={Norie Neumark}, journal={IEEE MultiMedia}, year={2000}, volume={7}, pages={4-6} }