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medienwerk.nrw is the media art network of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
Its mission is to promote media art in NRW and foster exchanges between artists and institutions working in the fields of research, teaching, production, presentation, archiving and promotion of media art. Since September 2013 the network has been supported by the newly created Office medienwerk.nrw. Sincen April 2014 the office organises workshops for young media artists as well as networking events and international conferences around topical questions and aesthetic as well as social issues relating to media art and digital culture in various venues across NRW.

Aims and mission of medienwerk.nrw

Since its inception as an informal network in 2000, medienwerk.nrw has been connecting and centralising the know-how and interests of media art institutions and initiatives in NRW. As part of RUHR.2010 – European Capital of Culture it hosted the media art festival ISEA2010 RUHR, 16th International Symposium on Electronic Art.

medienwerk.nrw supports the sustainable development of existing infrastructures in the realm of media art and works towards raising the profile of NRW as a hub for media art. It represents the interests of media artists and institutional or independent media arts organisations in the political realm.

On Media Art

medienwerk.nrw defines media art as a contemporary aesthetic practice using time-based media. Since the emergence of video art in the 1960s, and more particularly since the 1990s, when it embraced the so-called New Media (notably the Internet), media art has been mirroring the global medialisation of the present. By harnessing emerging technologies, media artists allow us to reflect on the medial construction of reality while creating opportunities for an open discussion of the aesthetic, political and cultural consequences of this development. More than any other artistic discipline, media art, because it shares the media of everyday digital culture, is able to make artistically informed contributions to the contemporary discourse on the impact of technological progress as it interacts with other, interrelated systems such as society, politics, economy, ecology, culture and science.

Since its pioneering days New Media Art, which has been using digital networked media as an artistic means of expression since the 1990s, has shifted the focus of its aesthetic practice. While its initial aim was to probe the artistic potential and limits of new media, today it no longer simply appropriates technological innovations, but increasingly questions the conditions of their production, dissemination and use. In many instances, its central concern is to investigate the social consequences of digitalisation and networking, which includes the distribution of culture and the production processes of art. By critically appraising its own conditions of production, media art acts as a counterpoint to the continuing commercialisation of new media.

Many contemporary media art works and projects aim to create an understanding of intricate social, political, economic and ecological relationships using distinctly artistic methods. In a global, fast-paced, technology-driven world relying on the interaction of these spheres, media art raises our awareness for the present and translates these complexities into new artistic forms. Through an aesthetic practice that appropriates digitalisation, networking and our changing habits of artistic and cultural production and perception, media art visualises, reflects and comments on these relationships.

In doing so, it transcends the boundaries of disciplines, overlapping with the realms of visual arts, performance, music, theatre and film. It also shares common ground with realms such as cultural education and artistic or cultural mediation as well as the creative industries, which have themselves been profoundly influenced by the media-technological developments of the past two decades.