On Artistic Aesthetics of Contemporary New Media Art Works




Prof. Zhang Chengyi 1 and Kan Qing 2



1College of Textiles and Clothing, Qingdao University, China

2School of Fine Art, Nanjing Normal University, China

Email: KanQing777@qq.com



Cite this article:
Prof. Zhang Chengyi and Kan Qing (2018). On Artistic Aesthetics of Contemporary New Media Art Works. International Journal of Arts and Commerce, 7(1), 29-35.


New media art has gradually become part of mainstream art. Multiple modern and contemporary artists are more inclined to apply Internet-based multi-media for disseminating information to express their thoughts and emotions of creation. New media art has lashed out at traditional art forms, not only in artistic styles lead to significant changes, but also in the form of expression, aesthetic characteristics and other aspects, and then bring about profound transformations in public thinking and experience. It is a new form of art, but this does not mean that it is completely separated from traditional art. This article discusses the concept, connotation and the difference from traditional art of new media art, and then explores the aesthetic characteristics of the emerging new media art as well as the reflection of the contemporary new media art.


Keywords: new media, art, aesthetic, technology


1. The concept and development of new media art

The development of new media art originated from the renovation of artistic ideas in the 20th century. Many new materials and creation methods are accepted into the field of art and people are no longer content to enjoy the old art. In the information age, digital technology and the Internet have increasingly become the focus of people's vision. The new media art opens up the gate of the public imagination world in a completely new way. New media art is based on digital technology and Internet, which results in a huge difference from traditional arts. Vibrant new media art has also received more and more people's understanding and recognition. New media art "refers mainly to those works of art that use the latest scientific and technological achievements such as video, computer, internet and digital technologies as the creative media”[1]In addition, the art of using ready-made products, scrap materials and other materials that are different from traditional materials is definitely part of new media art.

The first change in art is manifested in completely different concepts of art comparing to traditional art. The "Spring" named by Marcel Duchamp, a pioneer of surrealist representations of the 20th century, has been the subject of controversy in the Western art community since its birth. In 1917, the ready-made production of men's urinal was named "spring" by Duchamp and sent to the fine arts exhibition. At that time, the art world caused countless controversies and questions. There were numerous controversies in the theoretical circles. With his keen insight, Duchamp has challenged audiences' perception of art boldly. What exactly is art? What is the boundary between art and life? Widely recognized by academic circles, "Spring" was a monument of modern art in the 20th century. The advent of this artwork broke a new path for ready-made artworks and represents the Dadaism declared objection to traditional arts. He denied the divine coat of art and preached to some extent that art and life are directly connected.

Duchamp has been recognized by many artists and critics not only because of his ingenuity but also he can move beyond the old, boring artistic boundaries and bring art to a whole new domain. "At best, his (Duchamp) image is a modern artist who is good at innovation ... Yet his maturity and thoughts have been understood by Westerners for almost four decades." [2]Behind the notion is the new technology arises. The reason why Duchamp do this is that a change in his own ideas and with the advent of new tools, though the tools have no emotions, the artistic experiences via tools are flooded with human emotions, so that the reception of works of art have enhanced. Therefore, another highlight of the new media era is the dependence on science and technology. This not only helps arouse more and more emerging aesthetics, but also helps to bring about a new artistic experience through different combinations of different media. However, the mechanical and electronic materials also make the crisis of new media art always exist, some important elements of traditional art are easily lost in new media art. The famous scholar Jean Baudrillard believes that symbolic consciousness has long been hidden in traditional arts, which expresses the life situation. However, in modern mechanical production, the symbolization of traditional arts dissipated away on a large scale. Technology gives people "a world of artificial intelligence. " From a long perspective, people are surrounded with non-human symbols and functionality. He said: "The symbolic value which represent the presence of human is vanishing. What emerges through the symbol is a continually conquered, refined and abstract nature. It constantly enters culture with the help of symbols. Therefore, the existence of human beings is no longer for the genuine existence. "[3]

The new media art is synthesis of a variety of artistic origins and can not be defined as a specific form of art. The mode of transmission is not single and it uses a variety of forms of communication to promote frequent contact with the public and to create a new bridge between the artist and the public in an interactive manner so as to create a more comprehensive understanding. The new media art attempts to break through the shackles of objectively reproducible art and reopen a world connecting between artists and the public, which has made new media art overturn the one-way art form of traditional art in the past and blade a trail to a two-way new form which unites artists and the public.


2. The difference between new media art and traditional art

As a new emerging art form lasting for the half of century, with the combination of various media, new media art has gradually formed its own artistic potentials. Undoubtedly, it causes complete break against traditional art and thus conforms to the tide of postmodern art and gives birth to a major breakthrough in a brand new art form. Without the rebellion and innovation of traditional art, new media art can not successfully break through old art forms. "Taking concepts first and combining with other aspects of performing arts, body art, sound art, and finale art, multimedia installation art has also grown, which reflect a wide variety of things and ideas in the field of arts and challenge television commercials based on media system. "[4] The development of the times has given birth to the new media art. However, among the information age, the new media art permeates the new fields beyond the traditional art with its strong tolerance.

It is not hard to find that new media art is more and more favored by artists and the public. We often see the application of new media art in many galleries, such as the way of restoring the life of ancient people through new media and displaying the livelihood of imperial emperors within the imperial palace. Through this form, the audience can learn more intuitive knowledge, immersive feeling can make people seem to "experience" the situation as if on presence. Today, with the rapid development of science and technology, many people have forgotten their history and are no longer interested in Chinese classical culture, nor do they take the initiative understanding it. Through the new media art, this loss of feeling can be reproduced to the public, people feel surprised and sigh with emotions; "It turned out to be the charm of history." Throughout them, new media art and traditional arts have demonstrated various discrepancy in many aspects:

2.1 Performances in different ways. First of all, the difference in bearing media is a sign that they are essentially different. New media art has broken through the limitations of traditional arts and no longer is represented by a single carrier such as paper and canvas. In traditional art, "the elements that embrace forms are mainly medium, line, surface, light and shade, texture, space and color." [5]New media art can combine pictures, words, sounds, touches and so on to bring people a full range of sensory experience. Its formal language embraces the traditional art, on the basis of which are integrated and transformed, giving audiences a new sensory feast.

2.2 Different forms of public participation. Traditional arts only bring about the finished product to the masses, and the public can not experience the process of the artwork, to a certain extent, it is a passive acceptance. At the most important production stage of artwork, the public can not see and participate in it, so they can not give their opinions. When this sense of participation is unsatisfactory, public interest in the work of art will be greatly reduced. However, the new media art is different, the public can participate in the creation, give advices or help to complete, so that the audience and creator invisibly have become a whole.

2.3 The new media art gave birth to an interactive experience different from traditional arts. Because of its appearance, the gap between the public and art is being increasingly destroyed and the monument to art is being re-established. Breaking the process of the public's passive acceptance to the art form as well as opening the door to connect the art and the public to the times and space of sound and color, light and shadow, thus bringing us a brand new artistic feast in an avant-garde artistic language. The interactive experience also creates realistic and virtual opportunities for the public. The artists re-explore artistic forms and expressions so that construct rational artistic forms in a new space and time. Traditional art will not fade away as the times go. On the contrary, the new media art can not survive without it. Traditional arts have created a lot of classics and works of art, and new media art can be improved and developed on that basis. No one knows what kind of trend the new media art will take in the near future, but its beginning is bringing a silver lining to art. It is finding a balance in traditional arts, with it forms a variety of forms of mixed art.


3. Aesthetic characteristics of new media art

 1. Interactive and new experiences. In traditional arts, audiences generally appreciate artworks by "looking" through eyes. This sense of experience is boring, and the audience can not be mobilized for total enthusiasm and interest. At the beginning, new media art aims to arouse the all-round senses of the masses, bring audiences the ideological and physical consent. The senses of our body are foundations for understanding the world, and new media art can make good use of the body's perceptions, bring audiences new experiences different from the past. Take example of movies, we have been more than content with 3D movies, many cinemas have launched 5D movies which arouse the audience's interest, in order to create a sense of immersive. So do the recent popular VR games.

2. Changes of cultural context. The birth of art is essentially a continuous improvement which perfects mistakes. The artworks are not specific to a certain sort of people, challenging the exclusive elitism of the arts and establishing an art movement that represents the power of civilians. The essence of art is elegant and popular. The "popularization" and "universalization" of experiences are the characteristics and goals of new media art. Our art can not be preserve to the elite. Art is derived from life. The right to appreciate art needs to be lifted from a certain sort of people and returned to hands of the general public.

3. The boom of the public influence. New media art has made it necessary to rely on the material carrier of the art turn to virtualization and civilians. Similar to a wide range of pavilions began to be part of public life, its relationship with audiences seems more and more close. In a rapidly changing city, a single art model can no longer meet people's growing cultural needs. Therefore, the new media art that integrates various technologies has become a well-deserved "favor". On the one hand´╝înew media art keeps pace with the times and become a microcosm of the times. On the other hand, it also shows that the living conditions of urban people are getting better and better. People also have great spiritual demands after they have satisfied their physical demands. 2008 Olympic Games opening ceremony, the use of new media art, multidimensional combination of the sensory experience, has been acclaimed both inside and outside the industry. This is a successful practice of new technologies and new media.

4. The formation of art writing patterns. New media art broke the invincible myth of elite art and the public got the ownership of art. "Writing is essentially the embodiment of the mode of thinking. In a society dominated by a literary civilization, language is a tool for thinking function. In a cultural form dominated by images, schema-based perception and schema conversion should be the carrier of such writing "[6]This new writing style builds a new way of watching the world. Therefore, "the boundary between the image or resemblance and the reality has already been imploded. Along with this, the past experience of reality as well as the foundation of reality have disappeared."[7]

5. The re-development of traditional aesthetics. The philosophical foundation of "Nature and man are one" in Chinese traditional ideology not only provides theoretical support for chinization of new media art, but also inevitably brings about a broader art platform. Only new media art and traditional art complement each other can they write brilliant artistic epics. For example, American musician John Cage got inspiration from the idea of "Zen" and created art forms such as "accidental art" and "opportunity music." in the 1960s.Taking the new media as the carrier, the concept of Chinese traditional aesthetics continue to integrate, enhance and strengthen in order to reach the new realm of characteristics of Chinese culture in new media art. This fully shows that there can be a common source of ideas between the new media art and traditional art, and contains similar artistic concepts and philosophical reflections under different appearances and forms.


4. The thinking of new media art

Art has the function of communication and dissemination in the social life. The same is true of new media art, which serves as an indispensable cultural carrier for contemporary society and can bring new information and content to audiences. However, some problems arise as well. For example, should the publicity of new media art need to respond to public aesthetic needs? Or should lead the public aesthetic standard? How does the new media art inherit the connotation of classical art? Such problems have gradually emerged, and this is what new media art want to continuously break through and overcome in recent years.

Different from painting, sculpture, dance and other art forms with a long history of development, new media art is actually still at a basic stage of development. In order to give the audience a better experience, the new media art is constantly transforming imitation to original creation. Only by taking advantage of traditional arts can create a more perfect new media art. Because most of the artists in new media art were once receiving traditional art education, part of their traditional art remains in their mindsets. New media art can learn from experience in traditional art forms, can neither be rejected entirely, nor can it be completely copied. An objective attitude of the relationship between them is the core of development of new media art. Of course, among the various explorations, artists have blazed a vibrant artistic trail. The publicity and personality experience of new media art will gradually reach a balance, and the audiences’ life will become more and more inseparable from the application of new media art. The quality of life of human beings will be further enhanced through the use of technology and intelligence, and become a crucial part of daily life.

New media art has become an irreversible trend both in terms of acceptance of new media art by artists and by works of art itself. For artists, new media art at the background of the new era sparks various kinds of ideas based on life and create an inspiration beyond life. Secondly, as far as works of art are concerned, this new and unfamiliar artistic forms can not be separated from reality but surpasses and renovates on the basis of reality, thus bringing about a personalized and avant-garde artistic context. On the basis of the reality of new media art, it is remodeled with a form of defamiliarization to reconstruct the new vocabulary in the art world.

As Paul Wadley said: "There is a material component that no longer looks and treats as it has been ago in all arts, because it has become inextricably bound by modern science and modern practice and people must take them into consideration. "[8]The updating of art forms will affect the language of artistic creation, thus affecting the aesthetic appreciation of artists and their colleagues who will also change the connotation and denotation of art itself. The forward-looking and avant-garde nature of new media artists have led not only to show their own unique charm, but also become an indispensable part of public life. It can be said that new media art not only represents a disassembly and generation, that means disassemble an original artistic form and generate a new artistic experience. It represents interactivity and publicity, as a means of dissemination of contemporary art, people pay attention to experience new media art and make their own judgments and choices. The emergence of new media art lead to the promotion of many fields so that make art vibrant and colorful.

New media art often takes its place in the art world via various media such as technology and the Internet. Therefore, we can not ignore the important value of other media technologies for new media art. People can not ignore the fact that new media art is a method, and can not be divorced from the essence of art. The media is only a means of serving the art, and the improvement of ideas of artists and the promotion of concepts of art is the fundamental purpose. In the era of alization, both the artist and the public pay attention to the aesthetic connotation and are alert to the temptation of visual representation. New media and art are equally important. Only when they are mutually reinforced and united can we better develop a new artistic field filled with the artist's personality connotation.


5. Conclusion

Technology is an extension of human limbs, and limbs need to be spiritually supported. New media art uses scientific and technological means to stimulate various sensual experiences, maximize glamour of art, and enhance the overall aesthetic and artistic senses. Under the background of the times, the new media art should always be rooted in the traditional aesthetic philosophy, and explore the performance languages in new media so that new media art can reveal the characteristics of the times and national culture under the nourishment of traditional aesthetic concepts.



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[2] [French] Pierre Cabane. Interview with Du Shang [M]. Wang Ruiyun, Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2001, p155.


[3] Zhang Yibing, Youth Baudrillard and his system, Academic Forum,2008.11.


[4] Qin Xun, Visual Art, World Art, 2001, 02, edited by Michael Rush, New Media in Art of the Late 20th Century, published by Thames & Hudson Press, 1999 Year London.


[5] Otto Gocvirk, Robert Bone, Robert Stinson, Philip Wgg: "Art Foundationsals: Theory and Practice"

WMC Brown Company Publisher, 1962, P11.


[6] Duan Yun Dong. The Genesis of Visual Culture—The New Media Art and Its Effect on Image Culture [J]. Art Research. 2004.04


[7] [USA] Douglas Kellner, Steven Best, Postmodern theory: critical questioning, Zhibin, Central Compilation and Translation Press, January 1999 edition, p154.


[8] Chen Minan, The New Media Art and Traditional Aesthetics [J] Art Observation. 2011.02.