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3 Tutorials that teach Experimental Media
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Experimental Media

Experimental Media

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will briefly explain the emergence of many experimental forms of art during the late 20th century.

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Tutorial

Explaining the emergence of experimental media and types of experimental media.

Video Transcription

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Hello, I'd like to welcome you to this episode of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell, and today's lesson is about experimental media. As you're watching the video feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as often as you feel is necessary. And as soon as you're ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives, or the things you're going to learn today, are listed below. By the end of the lesson today you will be able to identify and define today's key terms, provide examples of types of experimental media, and explain how experimental media challenges the traditional idea of art.

Key terms, as always, are listed in yellow throughout the lesson. First key term is time-based, a work of art that intentionally lasts for a finite period of time, such as a performance. Land art are works of art that use the landscape as medium or incorporate the landscape on a huge scale. Body art are works of art that use the artist's body as a medium. Body art often, but not always, intersects with performance art.

Continuing with performance, a type of art that emphasizes action. Installation is a type of art that involves the creation of large, room-sized environments that one can enter. And Arte Povera is a modern art movement that explores the relationship between art and life using natural materials and human artifacts, and experienced through the body.

The big idea for today is that experimental media challenges traditional understandings of art.

So what is experimental media and why do we care? Well artists are a rebellious bunch and experimental media emerged out of desires to challenge the establishment. The establishment being the traditional understanding of art, what it is, and what it could be.

So consider this, or just think about what are the first things that come to your mind when you think about art? Well traditionally, I would say that most people think of paintings, sculptures, maybe nudes, and maybe the Mona Lisa. Well until the 20th century high art was largely confined to mediums that had been in use since ancient Greece. One exception-- a big exception-- would be oil paintings on canvas. That came along later.

Experimental media applies to any nontraditional medium and includes land art, body art, performance art, and installation art. It's also important to point out that unlike earlier works of art, which were intended to endure, experimental media often incorporates an element of non-permanence, emphasizing how no work of art lasts forever. And I'll show you some examples in just a few moments.

So again, aside from the subject matter, which may or may diverge from traditional art, the type of medium is the primary difference between traditional media and experimental media. So let's take a look at each type of experimental media and identify the medium that's being used. So the first one, land art, the landscape becomes the medium. With body art a person's body, often the artist's, becomes the medium. In performance art the performance is the medium, but the action is the subject matter.

With installation art the use of the surrounding space becomes a part of the medium. And with Arte Povera, again, the surrounding space can become part of the medium, but not always. And Arte Povera also demonstrates the relationship between art and life. And because of that, sometimes it requires the participation of the viewer. So it's a good way to compare all these by what their medium is.

So we'll begin with a really well known form of land art called the Spiral Jetty. And this was created in 1970 by Robert Smithson. And it's situated within the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Body art has existed in one way or another since before the earliest recordings of human history. Tattoos, a form of body art, have been found the mummified remains of humans dating from the Neolithic Era some 6,000 plus years ago. Now the example I'm showing here is of the elaborate makeup used on the Kathakali dancers of Southwestern India.

Performance art emphasizes the action as the subject matter and the performance is the medium through which the action is conveyed. This picture is of Marina Abramovic performing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. And the title of this performance is The Artist is Present. And the performance consisted of her sitting for hours on end staring at observers.

This is an example of installation art where the surrounding space becomes a part of the medium. An important aspect of installation art is that it is often designed specifically for a specific type of room or space. And it differs from land art in that it is indoors.

Arte Povera emerged in the latter part of the century in Italy. And it translates to "poor art," which is a bit misleading because the materials used can actually be quite elaborate and expensive. But I think a good way to describe Arte Povera is that it takes everyday materials and really creates something extraordinary and interesting out of them. This example is called The Other Figure, and is showing two busts looking down upon another figure, which happens to be shattered and in pieces on the ground. It's kind of humorous.

Now that you've seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today's key terms, provide examples of types of experimental media, and explain how experimental media challenges the traditional idea of art? Once again the big idea for today is that experimental media challenges traditional understandings of art.

Well that's it for today. Thank you for joining me and I'll see you next time.

Citations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Whiteread_tate_1.jpg;Image of Kathakali Creative Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ File:Kathakali_Performance_Close-up.jpg; Image of Kathakali face Creative Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kadakali_painting.jpg; Image of Spiral Jetty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spiral-jetty-from-rozel-point.png; Image of Artist is Present Creative Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Abramovic.jpg; Image of The Other Figure Creative Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paolini_- _'L'Altra_Figura'_(1984).jpg

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Arte Povera

    A modern art movement that explores the relationship between art and life, using natural materials and human artifacts, and experienced through the body.

  • Installation

    A type of art that involves the creation of large, room-sized environments that one can enter.

  • Performance

    A type of art that emphasizes action.

  • Body Art

    Works of art that use the artist’s body as a medium; body art often, but not always, intersects with performance art.

  • Land Art

    Works of art that use the landscape as medium or incorporate the landscape on a huge scale.

  • Time-Based

    A work of art that intentionally lasts for a finite period of time, such as a performance.