Bijvoet, M. (1997)
Art as Inquiry : Toward New Collaborations Between Art, Science and Technology
Peter Lang, New York (review)

An interesting text surveying projects in Art & Technology from a predominantly American perspective (although many of its practitioners are originally from elsewhere). The book includes discussion of works by numerous big players including: György Kepes, Billy Klüver, Jack Burnham, Hans Haacke, James Turrell, Nam June Paik and Bill Viola. In addition to describing and analysing their works, the book gives a broad understanding of the artistic ideas of the artists and their (sometimes tenuous) basis in science. It was pleasing to see some concrete benefits listed for Science from some of the early art-tech collaborations. Often too litle thought seems to be given by artists to what they can give back to the scientists with whom they collaborate. If I had a dollar for everytime I'd heard of a "collaboration" that benefited the artist by having one of their technologically-based artworks being constructed but benefited the scientist only by being a "fun" project to have been involved in... I would have $10. Oh well, that's not really too many :-)

The formation of various sub-movements within Art & Technology and their related exhibitions, activities and publications are also discussed in the book. For instance, Earth Art, Leonardo, Experiments in Art and Technology each rate several mentions.

At times I found my attention wandering. To a large extent this was because of the fragmentary way in which I read the first 2/3 of the text. The book rewards careful reading and contains a wealth of valuable information... however it was too dense for bedtime reading. This book is a valuable reference on the work of the artists it surveys. For me it did not serve as a book to be read from cover to cover, nor the kind of book whose general thrust I could encapsulate in a paragraph (did it even have a general thrust or was it just a survey?) The text would be handy on the shelf for reference when writing a paper.

A minor point: I would like to have seen some illustrations included in the book. Even though most of the works it discusses are well known, there were some I had to struggle to bring to mind.

Alan Dorin, 11 Apr 06

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