“‘…but a hammer with which to shape it’: Media Art and Society 1963-2013”. January 1, 2013


Invited Lectures ; Kristine Stiles ; Bertolt Brecht once commented: “Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” This keynote lecture for WRO Art Center's 15th Media Art Biennale on "Pioneering Values," explores the consequences of media artists’ pioneering values in two overarching themes inextricably related to the development, use, and ethics of media arts: weapons technologies and embodiment. The backdrop for both subjects is the digital revolution with Web 1.0 transforming communication and altering culture, society, and politics at the root; Web 2.0 bringing profound change to human relations through social media; and the World Wide Web influencing all aspects of life, especially art and education as they, in turn, inform visual, cultural, and media studies, connect disparate disciplines, produce hybrid vocabularies, give rise to the digital humanities, and augment a multi-perspectival approach to navigating research and producing knowledge. It must be remembered, too, that the “new media art” –hailed in the 1990s—is anything but new, belonging as it does to the triangulation of art, science, and technology in the early twentieth century, which anticipated hallmarks of new media at the century’s end, including interactivity, collaboration, performance, and revitalized activism. This paper roams over fifty years of contributions by media artists to art and culture in the broader contexts of weapons research and development, surveillance, mind control, and bioengineering, in tandem with altered concepts of and approaches to sexuality, agency, collectivity, anonymity, and perception, all under the specter of spectacle and performativity.

Service Performed By

  • Stiles, Kristine  France Family Professor of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies


  • January 1, 2013

Location or Venue

  • WRO Art Center, Wroclaw, Poland