Various artistic disciplines have made claims to the prestigious title of "total art" -- theater and film, above all, strive to integrate all the other arts, including music, visual art, and performance. Now, with the rapid growth of computer technology, a... [more]
Various artistic disciplines have made claims to the prestigious title of "total art" -- theater and film, above all, strive to integrate all the other arts, including music, visual art, and performance. Now, with the rapid growth of computer technology, a new contender for the title of "total art" steps up: CD-ROM art. Along with the incorporation of visuals and music (though performance must be surrendered to some extent), CD-ROM art raises the banner of interactivity and non-linearity.
Almost all CD-ROM artists have their origins in other disciplines: visual art, graphic design, photography, film, literature. As an ultra-new form with such diverse influences, CD-ROM art clearly still exists without domination by one particular form. The nature of computer technology itself may play the most fundamental role in the direction CD-ROM art takes. As opposed to film, which essentially maintains linear time structures, CD-ROM art provides its audience with any number of possibilities at once. It envelops the audience into an "art object" that is never fully constructed prior to the audience's interaction with it.
In fact, the audience in the case of CD-ROM art is not an audience at all -- it is a participant, even a protagonist, within the mutable CD-ROM world. He or she enters into a kind of dialogue with the program, altering the program's behavior on the basis of his or her own decisions. Thus participants are forced to become reflective, to contemplate their specific positions within the virtual world; the participants interpret, but as opposed to with film or theater, they can carry these interpretations into action. This integration of participants' interpretations and actions into the system of the art itself is what differentiates CD-ROM art from other genres that have laid "total art" claims.
But the future of CD-ROM art is by no means clear. At present, it is suspended somewhere between the corporate status of the video game and the underground status of a small number of (mostly unknown) "cottage" artists. The success of large-scale distribution will largely decide its fate in popular culture; as of yet, no considerable distributors of CD-ROM art exist. As its future hinges on integration with both the art world and popular culture, CD-ROM art is presently in a state of potential. [show less]