Principles of New Media

First rule.

New Media refers to the means of mass communication using digital technologies which means “all new media objects can be described formally (mathematically)”; in the language of computers. So which part of the ‘tree’ is new media? At first glance, it is very much just a normal model of a tree, until someone approaches The only part of the ‘tree’ digitized is the automation – the code and the electrical components. Thought it is a piece of interactive art that uses digital technology, it does not classify under new media as a whole.

In the ‘tree’ project, we are transcoding psyche to give the illusion that the supposed ‘inanimate’ object is sentient. The sixth sense of presence is the “cultural layer” where as the “computer layer” is the Arduino and Processing code.

La maison sensible (from Intro to Interactive I)

Manovich states that “Media used in cultural communication will have discrete levels.” But he also states the opposite that it may not be applied to all kinds of cultural communication. Does body language have discrete units? Maybe not. But transcoded body language, has discrete units due to its “fractal structure”. Just like how art and design are 2 separate categories – design is art but art is not design, New media and interactive art co-exist in a similar way. Discrete units do not have any meaningful connotations unless you are making glitch art.

Ra9 added into the code (Detroit Become Human)

Discrete units of the computer code are purely technical and are meaningless yet it enhances the semantics of the artwork. Bridging the disconnection between audience and display. Because…

Second rule.

“A new media object is subject to algorithmic manipulations. in other words, media becomes programmable.” This type of programming leds to 2 closely related principles – automation and variability.

As the ‘tree’ is not a self-learning program, it is a “low-level” automation; “in which the computer user modifies or creates from scratch a media object using templates or simple algorithms.” Its feedback is pre-programmed and will not change.

Another way of identifying a “low-level” automation from a “high-level” one is that, the variability of a “low-level” automation is dependent on the user while the variability of a “high-level” automation is solely determined by the program itself.

“Computer characters can display intelligence and skills only because programs place severe limits on our possible interactions with them. Put differently, computers can pretend to be intelligent only by tricking us into using a very small part of who we are when we communicate with the.”

The ‘tree’ is also a special case of a “low-level” automation pretending to be a “high-level” one. As it is not an artificial intelligence (AI) program but it seems to understand meaning; as mentioned above in transcoding.

Lastly, the modularity of new media allows for easy editing. Manovich described to be building blocks of code, stating that “The objects themselves can be combined into even larger objects – without losing their independence.” The ‘tree’ comes in 2 parts – Branch and roots, which can be be removed and still function on their own. Removing the discrete units however, would ruin the entire system.



The language of New Media by Lev Manovich

Singapore Night Festival 2018

According to google, the word Interactive refers to:

  • (of two people or things) influencing each other.
  • allowing a two-way flow of information between a computer and a computer-user; responding to a user’s input.

In order for an installation to be considered interactive, we (the audience) feeds something into the artwork and in return, the artwork returns something to us; basically it is an exchange.

My top two favourite installations:

Ember Rain

For this installation, we were asked to first write our wish onto a piece of paper. The ‘wish’ will then be wrapped around a piece of charcoal, loaded onto a carrier on the chains. Then when the audience cycles, the ‘wish’ will be transported all the way to the top and falls into the burning flames of the metal lotus.

According to the description, “The sparks generated represent catalysts of ideation and innovation, while the tower’s lotus-shaped petals symbolise the rebirth, purity and beauty of ideas flowing through space.”

Level of Interactivity: Fairly High

It is quite an experience to send one’s wish into these flames.

A wish is an extremely personal and intimate thing that exist in one’s mind, by inserting it into the artwork, we create a sort of spiritual connection; almost like a string of fate.

It was mesmerizing; almost magical. It felt like I was sending it to the heavens, to be granted. The act very much reminds me of how Chinese people pray with joysticks, the image of incense rising.

There was also an ‘obstacle’ halfway up the chains, the user needs to slow down a little to get pass it. My guess is that it represents – getting what you want is not a road without bumps.

The Search

While Ember Rain is about wishes, The Search is about memories.

This installation is an immersive space decorated with acrylic ‘paper planes’ and dotted light illustration of the city skyline of Singapore in the background.

While walking through this installation, one would find that the space is very confined and small, there are even warnings for the claustrophobic at the entrance.

“The Search seeks to pay homage to the journey of navigating life in the city, and the whirlwind of emotions that come with it through the symbolism of a paper plane — a fond childhood plaything for many. The installation relays the message that there is something beautiful to celebrate in the people we meet, and experiences we gain in everyone’s unique journey of self-discovery.”

Level of interactivity: Emotional / Low

I am not really sure if this installation is an interactive one because the music and lights start at their own time. It would be interactive if it were activated by movement, e.g. when viewers enter the space, the lights start dancing. The experience was more of a performance; a one way flow without any exchange involved.

It is probably design to repeat and loop, the lights of the ‘paper planes’ programmed and choreographed to the rhythm of the music.

Intro to Interactive I

La maison sensible


– showing an ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

“We wish to create a work capable of physical behaviors that can induce sensitive and caring behavior among spectators.”

The artwork become disturbed and hide when you’re aggressive, emerge when you’re gentle; like a creature of sort.

Identity Tapestry

There are 12 iterations of the identity tapestry, each has over 200 identity statements on laser-cut acrylic and over 200 individually dyed strands of yarn.

“The artwork starts out as a blank canvas. The participants will choose their yarn and wrap it around each statement that identifies them. At the end of each yarn is an anchoring stone as a mark of their identity as a part of this complex Identity Tapestry which is itself a portrait of that particular group of people in that time and place. “

You’re not alone.

I think the intention of this piece is to manifest the connections as seen in the intersecting yarns. Connection in terms of experience and thoughts; not physical relationship.

What makes interactive artwork so compelling, that people feel the irresistible need to touch it?

Is the experience only limited to the five senses? Could we push to manipulate curiosity, behavior and emotions like [La Maison Sensible]?

How does the result of the artwork affect the user?