Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality / Edition 1

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"I recommend this book to you with an earnestness that I have seldom felt for any collection of historic texts," writes William Gibson in his foreword.
Tracing the fertile series of collaborations between arts and sciences throughout the twentieth century, Randall Packer and Ken Jordan present the often overlooked history behind multimedia—the interfaces, links, and interactivity we all take for granted today. "Many of the papers that had profound impact upon my development—to say nothing of the entire industry—are here," raves Donald A. Norman, author of The Invisible Computer. In "an evocative whirlwind tour through 100 years of work" (Wired), Packer and Jordan bring together an "historically significant" (Slashdot) collection of the groundbreaking visions of scientists like Vannevar Bush, Douglas Englebart, and Norbert Wiener, and artists like John Cage, Nam June Paik, and William Gibson. Their insightful explanations of the core concepts behind multimedia provide historical context that "reads like a Western civ of modern media" (Film/Tape World).

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Editorial Reviews

Jon Katz
The best guide yet on a subject of central importance to anyone interested in the future of media.... historically significant. —SlashDot
Douglas Rushkoff
This book may be the Primary Source for years to come. —author of Coercion : Why We Listen to What 'They' Say
Sara Diamond
[O]f great value to novices to the field and to serious theorists and educators....testimony to the human imagination.
Annick Bureaud
Not 'just another reader' but a key source book in the field of art, science and technology history... excellent in all respects. —Leonardo
An evocative whirlwind tour through 100 years of work [of] artists and scientists [in] the field of computer-human interaction... Excellent.
Boston Globe
[A]n important book....For anyone who wants to know where multimedia technology is going,or where it has been.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"What we need is a computer that isn't labor-saving but that increases the work for us to do, that... turns us... not `on' but into artists," writes John Cage in his essay in Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality, edited by Randall Packer and Ken Jordan, with a foreword (and an excerpt) by William Gibson. Surveying various artistic disciplines, the editors uncover the intersections of the avant-garde and strict computer science with inclusions like Tim Berners-Lee's 1980s prospectus for the World Wide Web, titled "Information Management: A Proposal," and ignored by his colleagues until he made the software, and his fortune, independently. Contributors include Bauhaus luminary L szl Moholy-Nagy, Cage prot g and performance artist Nam June Paik, and artist Lynn Hershman. Photos and illus. (Norton, $26.95 416p ISBN 0-393-04979-5; Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
An anthology of 32 reprinted short pieces demonstrate collaborations between art and science, mostly since World War II, but also back into the 19th century. Many are manifestos by artists in a wide range of media. The arrangement is not chronological, but by the thematic integration, interactivity, hypermedia, immersion, and narrativity. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
A comprehensive and ambitious anthology chronicling the history of "the multimedia revolution." With this collection, multimedia experts Packer and Jordan present a sampling of seminal articles by the artists, writers, scientists, musicians, and architects who engineered the 20th century's communication revolution. Each of these authors, from composer Richard Wagner to multimedia artist Nam June Paik, Douglas Engelbart (inventor of the mouse, windows, and e-mail), and beat writer William Burroughs, envisioned modes of artistic expression that penetrated "the fourth wall" dividing art from audience. Each imagined new modes of synthesis or communication that would enable people actively to engage with art, literature, music, and vast stores of information in their everyday lives. Most of these visionaries believed that technology was the key to their efforts—that computers could transform the passive appreciation of art into an active, participatory discourse. Many of these works are very technical, and most require a basic understanding of contemporary debates in art and science. The editors have done readers the invaluable service of providing pithy, astute, contextual summaries of each essay so that readers can pick and choose from among them. In fact, picking and choosing is an appropriate way to read this collection, since Ted Nelson (who coined the terms "hypertext" and "hypermedia" in 1963), William Gibson (to whom we owe the term "cyberspace"), and many others believed that nonlinear reading and writing are ideal (because these forms better mirror the nonlinear workings of the human mind). Gems include Vannevar Bush's 1945 Atlantic Monthly essay that led to the development ofthe "hyperlink," Tim Berners-Lee's 1989 proposal for a decentralized information network that was the foundation for the development of the World Wide Web, media artist Lynn Hershman's description of her groundbreaking multimedia projects, and Marcos Novak's piece about virtual architecture in cyberspace. An unusual exploration of a quiet revolution that changed the world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393323757
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/16/2002
  • Edition description: Expanded Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 1,505,872
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Jordan has pioneered innovative Web sites such as SonicNet, Word, and Media Channel. He lives in New York City.

Randall Packer is a media artist and professor of electronic arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

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Table of Contents

1 Outlines of the Artwork of the Future 3
2 The Futurist Cinema 10
3 Theater, Circus, Variety 16
4 Intermedia 27
5 The Great Northeastern Power Failure 33
6 Cybernated Art and Art and Satellite 39
7 Cybernetics in History 47
8 Man-Computer Symbiosis 55
9 Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework 64
10 Diary: Audience 1966 91
11 Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision 95
12 Responsive Environments 104
13 User Interface: A Personal View 121
14 Modalities of Interactivity and Virtuality 132
15 As We May Think 141
16 Excerpt from Computer Lib/Dream Machines 160
17 Personal Dynamic Media 173
18 Spatial Data-Management 185
19 The New Workstation: CD ROM Authoring Systems 198
20 Information Management: A Proposal 208
21 Hypertext, Hypermedia and Literary Studies: The State of the Art 225
22 The Cinema of the Future 239
23 The Ultimate Display 252
24 Virtual Interface Environments 257
25 Academy Leader 267
26 Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace 272
27 A Room with a View 286
28 Changing Space: Virtual Reality as an Arena of Embodied Being 293
29 The Future of the Novel 303
30 Untitled Guidelines for Happenings 307
31 Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space? 315
32 The Fantasy Beyond Control 327
33 Is There Love in the Telematic Embrace? 333
34 Welcome to 'Electronic Cafe International': A Nice Place for Hot Coffee, Iced Tea, & Virtual Space 345
35 Mudding: Social Phenomena in Text-Based Virtual Realities 352
36 The Art and Architecture of Cyberspace 370
37 Agency 380
Notes and References 403
A Note on the Web Site 422
Acknowledgments 423
Permissions 425
Index 430
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