Author’s Note for Postdigital Edition

When my publisher asked me to create an updated and enlarged edition of my 2006 book The Future of Art in a Digital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness, it was clear to me that the book called for an updated title that reflected the emergence of a postdigital age. Wikipedia, itself an exemplary postdigital collaborative creation, explains that “postdigital” is a term used in the discourse of digital artistic practice at a time of our rapidly changing relationships with digital technologies and art forms more concerned with being human than with being digital.  Reading this Wikipedia entry made me realize that much of the first edition of this book had already ventured beyond the digital to explore postdigital perspectives emerging from creative encounters between art, science, technology, and human consciousness.  This Postdigital Edition continues that exploration.

I had first sensed a postdigital aura nearly a half-century ago when I programmed mammoth computers to make pictures that called out for the warm human touch of colorful pigments in molten beeswax sensuously flowing over a plotter’s hard-edged digital drawings.  This aura continued as I initiated interactive dialogues between human sensibilities and new technologies in the LightsOROT: Spiritual Dimensions of the Electronic Age exhibition that I created more than two decades ago in collaboration with Otto Piene at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies for Yeshiva University Museum. As art editor of The Visual Computer: International Journal of Computer Graphics, I titled my 1988 digital art issue editorial “Art with Computers: The Human Spirit and the Electronic Revolution,” an apt title today for a chapter in a book on postdigital art.  My current works of participatory blogart and wikiart that mirror the living Talmud, the oldest on-going wikicreation that spans centuries and continents, continue my explorations of the human dimensions of new media.   

When I checked Wiktionary, the wiki-based open content dictionary, for a definition of “postdigital,” I found none.  So I created one based upon my research for writing this Postdigital Edition of my book.  I posted it on Wiktionary and added it to Wikipedia’s entry for “Postdigital.”  My act of collaborating in the creation of the world’s most actively used dictionary and encyclopedia beautifully exemplifies the postdigital age.  Now if you look for the Wiktionary definition, you will find mine.

Postdigtial (adjective). Of or pertaining to art forms that address the humanization of digital technologies through interplay between digital, biological, cultural, and spiritual systems, between cyberspace and real space, between embodied media and mixed reality in social and physical communication, between high tech and high touch experiences, between visual, haptic, auditory, and kinesthetic media experiences, between virtual and augmented reality, between roots and globalization, between autoethnography and community narrative, and between web-enabled peer-produced wikiart and artworks created with alternative media through participation, interaction, and collaboration in which the role of the artist is redefined.

I added two chapters to this new edition: “Postdigital Perspectives: Rediscovering Ten Fingers” and “Wiki Perspectives: Multiform Unity and Global Tribes.”  They both elaborate on my Wiktionary definition through theoretical discussions and descriptions of exemplary artworks.

The black and white photographs in the first edition have been dropped in favor of inviting my readers to see photographs of artworks in full color posted on my website, on my Artiststory, Postdigital Art, and Wikiartists blogs, and on my Postdigital Art Facebook group wall.  This digital solution not only offers access to many more photographs than were printed in the first edition, but allows for continual updating with new images. So take breaks from reading this book and enter into cyberspace to enrich your encounters with my words through viewing the colorful images posted on my website and blogs. 

Mel Alexenberg, School of the Arts, Emuna College, Jerusalem, Israel