27 September 2012


Postdigital Aura
I had first sensed a postdigital aura nearly a half-century ago when I programmed mammoth computers to make pictures that called out for the warm human touch of colorful pigments in molten beeswax sensuously flowing over a plotter’s hard-edged digital drawings. This aura continued as I initiated interactive dialogues between human sensibilities and new technologies in the LightsOROT: Spiritual Dimensions of the Electronic Age exhibition that I created more than two decades ago in collaboration with Otto Piene at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies for Yeshiva University Museum. As art editor of The Visual Computer: International Journal of Computer Graphics, I titled my 1988 digital art issue editorial “Art with Computers: The Human Spirit and the Electronic Revolution,” an apt title today for a chapter in a book on postdigital art. My current works of participatory blogart and wikiart that mirror the living Talmud, the oldest on-going wikicreation that spans centuries and continents, continue my explorations of the human dimensions of new media.

Encuastic painting by Mel Alexenberg of cross-section of pine leaf enlarged 600x

When I checked Wiktionary, the wiki-based open content dictionary, for a definition of “postdigital,” I found none. So I created one based upon my research for writing my book The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age (Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press). I posted it on Wiktionary and added it to Wikipedia’s entry for “Postdigital.” My act of collaborating in the creation of the world’s most actively used dictionary and encyclopedia beautifully exemplifies the postdigital age. Now if you look for the Wiktionary definition, you will find mine.

Postdigtial (adjective). Of or pertaining to art forms that address the humanization of digital technologies through interplay between digital, biological, cultural, and spiritual systems, between cyberspace and real space, between embodied media and mixed reality in social and physical communication, between high tech and high touch experiences, between visual, haptic, auditory, and kinesthetic media experiences, between virtual and augmented reality, between roots and globalization, between autoethnography and community narrative, and between web-enabled peer-produced wikiart and artworks created with alternative media through participation, interaction, and collaboration in which the role of the artist is redefined.

Rediscoving Ten Fingers
Two new chapters in the new edition of my book are: “Postdigital Perspectives: Rediscovering Ten Fingers” and “Wiki Perspectives: Multiform Unity and Global Tribes.” They both elaborate on my Wiktionary definition through theoretical discussions and descriptions of exemplary artworks