Medium, Tool, Art?

I came across this thesis, and have some questions for the everyone, because I’m not exactly sure how to perceive this work.  Superflow is a computer program written by former engineering student Ian Clemmer. Superlow is kind of like an extremely intricate visualizer.  He calls it viusic (a mixture of video/visual and music) and it is based on Pythagorean theorem integrated in code (I am very sorry to the avatar students if I completely butchered that statement). My question is, would this be considered digital art as a medium or as a tool, or if in fact you could even consider it art because it is done by an engineer and not an artist (not that I think that matters). The videos themselves are very interesting and I encourage everyone to watch the rest of them at As for my personal view of the work, I do consider it art using the digital framework as medium because it is coded and completely in digital format, however I feel that I am biased in calling it art because of the inclusion of visuals and my personal background as a visual artist. 

4 responses to “Medium, Tool, Art?

  1. The Hyundai Hyper-Matrix wall seems to blur the line between medium and tool. Although it is not presented in a digital format, it is still mechanized by digital hardware and software, so I feel compelled to agree, in that sense, that it should be classified as media while it is engaged. When it is not engaged in movement, I would classify it as tool, because the foam blocks that make a huge wall can exist regardless of digital technology, but they are there because of digitization.

  2. Unfortunately, whether or not something is art is a social decision, not a personal opinion (although we may have those opinions). Art is a designation that assumes recognition, and art is recognized in specific institutional ways. It is contextualized as art. In the current case, I have to ask, is it art, or entertainment? Entertainment might be art in some cases but probably not for the most part.

    • Ian Clemmer is considered an artist and his algorithm has been featured in Very Venice Art and Design Gallery. After going back to read his thesis, again, I realized that he was creating a possible tool for artists to use, a place where art and music can be combined. “Superflow and the mathematical formulas have all been combined in a unique and custom developed particle software. Not only that, a new approach and perspective to visual art is proposed, Viusic. Inspired by the work of John and James Whitney to find harmony in visual art, I continued their quest by introducing new perspectives to this exciting and forgotten field.” (Ian Clemmer). His website with some of his other works is Some of his work does cross the line into entertainment because it is was funded by corporations for the intention of entertainment.
      However, I feel that most recognizable artists from this generation are considered entertainers, because that is where a considerable amount of funding is. Consider Dave McKean (, a well known digital artist that primarily works on cd covers, movies, and got his start with comic books. Does the fact that he makes art for these mediums make his art any less relevant as art? I bring up Dave McKean because most people in the academic world did not (and in some cases still do not) consider comic book illustrations as art but entertainment. I feel that this is relevant because the same idea is being applied to certain forms of digital art. And I have to agree that some digital representations are purely for entertainment, (I would not consider most internet memes as art) but because of the theory and thought that was included in creating Ian Clemmer’s thesis, I would consider his work art.

  3. I agree with your designation as digital art, not only because it is presented and coded in a completely digital format, but it also seems to be responding to and drawing inspiration from the visualizers often seen accompanying Windows Media Player and various screensavers.

    I happened upon another instance where the question “tool or medium?” came to mind. HyperMatrix, created by “media art” group Jonpasang, is a large installation in Korea in which various patterns–abstract and figurative–are created using programmed foam cubes or “pixels” and motors and also enhance the projected images that come later in the video.

    “Hyper-Matrix is a kinetic landscape installation created for the Hyundai Motor Group Exhibition Pavilion in Korea, the 2012 Yeosu EXPO site. The installation consists of a specially made huge steel construction to support thousands of stepper motors that control 320x320mm cubes that project out of the internal facade of the building. The foam cubes are mounted to actuators that move them forward and back by the steppers, creating patterns across the three-sided display. Comprised of what at first appear to be three blank white walls, Hyper-Matrix installation quickly comes to life as thousands of individual cubic units forming a field of pixels begin to move, pulsate, and form dynamic images across the room, creating infinite number of possibilities in the vertical, 180 degree, landscape. In addition, as the boxes are arranged at only 5mm narrow intervals, the wall can also be a nice moving screen for the images projected on to it.”

    Though not presented in a digital format, it does seem to fall into the category of media or new media art as it is using digital technology as a tool to present an integrated sensory experience. It uses the same bitmapped pixel image construction method as Blinkenlights–albeit with foam blocks instead of lit windows–and seems to have possibilities for user input or participation. How would you classify this? Is this digital technology as a tool or medium?

    Watch the installation here:
    The projection at the end is less relevant, but very visually dynamic.

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