Understanding the language of new media
Community Media arts help us find a voice in our new modes of communication.
Increasingly, new media is becoming the foundation of how ideas are shared. Whether it's half-hour TED Talks or six-second Vines, instructional “explainer” videos or animated GIFs online, these audio-visual works have seemingly become a language unto themselves. At their worst, they're trivial, momentary distractions and fleeting entertainment. At their best, they can communicate ideas that can't be expressed with words or images alone.
The term “media art” is actually a broad one, and one without a universally agreed upon definition. The Independent Media Arts Alliance, a national group that represents over 16,000 media artists and cultural workers, defines it as time-related or interactive works that are created by the recording of sounds, visual images, or the use of new technology. It is art that embraces whatever tools it can find to share its ideas; or to put it slightly differently, it is art that engages with the new ways we are learning to communicate.
"But to thrive in the current cultural environment, Albertans need as many opportunities as possible to experiment, to learn just what our modern tools are capable of—and the province's media arts hubs are proud to provide just that."
That is essential in the current landscape, where media literacy is a minimum requirement at best and even fluency often seems like barely enough to get by. Media arts programs in our pre- and post-secondary education system, and organizations such as the Film and Video Arts Society in Edmonton and EMMEDIA, the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers and the Quickdraw Animation Society in Calgary ideally provide more than just a how-to guide for using the current tools. They provide a safe, creative and—hopefully—adventurous environment, a combination playground and workshop to push existing media to their creative limits.
That's not to say that media arts are the only place where these tools are being explored, and artists don't have a monopoly on creativity any more than educators, researchers or entrepreneurs. But to thrive in the current cultural environment, Albertans need as many opportunities as possible to experiment, to learn just what our modern tools are capable of—and the province's media arts hubs are proud to provide just that.