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Storytelling in the Digital Era

Updated on February 8, 2013

GOODBYE MR. NAM JUNE PAIK! the mischievous old provocateur and pioneer - the future is now

GOODBYE MR. NAM JUNE PAIK! was a message I received by e-mail at the night of 29th January 2006. This great pioneer of electronic media had left us. Only the new fashion he created to tell us stories; his art, remains.

The following morning I attached this message to the entrance door of the offices of the Foundation of Art and Technology, I governed back then.

Nam June Paik was equally known for his acute as well as critical observations of the new media and the social condition around it. In 1976 he declared: "Without electricity, there can be no art".

Nam June Paik has also been credited as responsible for naming the concept "information superhighway" and, most famously the declaration "the future is now"!

Epic in Transition - Where Will We Arrive?

Since the turn of the century many great minds and talented craftsmen have left us to cope on our own. The longing which I would by no means call nostalgic but a sincere realisation that an era where historic contracts were signed and the fashion of building reality as we still know it today had passed. We are at the turn of accepting a great change, we all have new tools within our reach to grasp this somehow altered reality we are in. We have all the knowledge developed by the previous generations still available for us; how do we want to preserve it, what do we want to use it for?

Walter Benjamin raised this concern in the context of storytelling: "The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out."

Still there are also things unchanged: the urge to interact with the world, feeling of friendship, sadness, joy, togetherness, belonging, sharing, also with all critical aspects present. The leading role of a human character, human emotions and the societies we live in, have not yet been replaced by those of machines, abstraction or technology as a focal point of storytelling. As Hannah Arendt reflects on it: "Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it."

The fashion of how to tell a good story may have found new formalities and as such developed new techniques for telling, but the stories are only complete when the audience brings the virtual world into the actual one, combining their own reality with the one perceived from the audio-visual screen. This multidirectional movement is one of the keys for the storytelling of new media art of today. Hoping that this new era will enable us to carry forward with this ancient form in humanity!

One lead we could consider following can be found from the writings of John Steinbeck: "A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight."

Essential reading in New Media Art - all recommended

New Media Art may cause to Think Different! - Digital Media Art Meets Merleau-Ponty

Notions of perception, time and subjectivity are central to all art, where traditionally the visual arts have been understood as spatial and music as a temporal. Audiovisual new media art proves this division to be problematic.

Read more at Discerning Subject in Spacetime

Remediation: Understanding New Media - this one is exquisite!

Old and New Media Collide - provides an interesting disposition to the contemporary media

Nam June Paik TV Buddha

'Without electricity, there can be no art'

Nam June Paik

'Storytelling reveals meaning without

committing the error of defining it'

Hannah Arendt

Literary references - for Hannah Arendt

vote for your favourites!

Between Past and Future (Penguin Classics)
Between Past and Future (Penguin Classics)

Arendt describes the loss of meaning of the traditional key words of politics: justice, reason, responsibility, virtue, glory. Through a series of eight exercises, she shows how we can redistill once more the vital essence of these concepts.

The Life of the Mind (Combined 2 Volumes in 1) (Vols 1&2)
The Life of the Mind (Combined 2 Volumes in 1) (Vols 1&2)

The author?s final work, presented in a one-volume edition, is a rich, challenging analysis of man?s mental activity, considered in terms of thinking, willing, and judging. Edited by Mary McCarthy; Indices.

On Revolution (Penguin Classics)
On Revolution (Penguin Classics)

Tracing the gradual evolution of revolutions since the American and French examples, Arendt predicts the changing relationship between war and revolution and the crucial role such combustive movements will play in the future of international relations.

Responsibility and Judgment
Responsibility and Judgment

Responsibility and Judgment gathers together unpublished writings from the last decade of Arendt’s life, where she addresses fundamental questions and concerns about the nature of evil and the making of moral choices. At the heart of the book is a profound ethical investigation, “Some Questions of Moral Philosophy,” in which Arendt confronts the inadequacy of traditional moral “truths” as standards to judge what we are capable of doing and examines anew our ability to di...

Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt

Twenty-five years after her death, we are still coming to terms with the controversial figure of Hannah Arendt. Interlacing the life and work of this seminal twentieth-century philosopher, Julia Kristeva provides us with an elegant, sophisticated biography brimming with historical and philosophical insight. Centering on the theme of female genius, emphasizes three features of the philosopher's work. First, by exploring Arendt's critique of Saint Augustine and her biographical essay on Rahel Varn...


Julia Kristeva - On feminism, semiotics and female geniuses with acumen

At the end of the 90's Julia Kristeva undertook a wonderful quest in the form of a trilogy about three female geniuses : Hannah Arendt, Melanie Klein and Colette.

Time in New Media

People often ask me how the new media films differ from, for example
the 1960's genre of short films; is there anything in common?

'The art of storytelling is reaching its

end because the epic side of

truth, wisdom, is dying out'

Walter Benjamin

Literary references - for Walter Benjamin

vote for your favourites!

Illuminations: Essays and Reflections
Illuminations: Essays and Reflections

Studies on contemporary art and culture by one of the most original, critical and analytical minds of this century.

Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings
Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings

"This book is just that: reflections of a highly polished mind that uncannily approximate the century's fragments of shattered traditions." - Time

The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media
The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media

This essay, however, is only the beginning of a vast collection of writings that the editors have assembled to demonstrate what..

The Arcades Project
The Arcades Project

"Quite simply, the Passagen-Werk is one of the twentieth century's great efforts at historical comprehension--some would say the greatest." --T. J. Clark, author of The Painting of Modern Life The Arcades Project Walter Benjamin Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin "To great writers," Walter Benjamin once wrote, "finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they labor their entire lives." Conceived in Paris in 1927 and still in progress when Benjamin fled the Occupation...


Selected Writings - of Walter Benjamin

This is a beautiful collection of writings of Benjamin.

World through Digital Art

The early pioneers of Digital Art started experimenting already during the 1950's.

'Oscillons' that Ben Laposky, American mathematician and artist, generated by an electronic machine in 1950 are considered as some of the earliest images of the digital realm.

Also, at the end of the 50's Nam June Paik and John Cage meet each other. Both became important leaders of the digital/new media creation.

Read more at World through Digital Art

' A man who tells secrets or stories

must think of who is hearing or reading,

for a story has as many versions

as it has readers '

John Steinbeck

Literary references - for John Steinbeck

' the Future is now '

Nam June Paik

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Storytelling livre d'Or - Storytelling Guestbook

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    • AppalachianCoun profile image

      AppalachianCoun 8 years ago

      Great lens. Thank-you for opening our eyes to what is happening in this area. We are green in it. 5 stars*****

    • allinfoisfree profile image

      allinfoisfree 9 years ago

      Awesome stuff! 5 *'s!

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      A hearty SquidAngel Blessing for this thought-provoking work. 5*s :)