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Media, Emergence and the Analogy of Art

Media, Emergence and the Analogy of Art,” in J. Lloyd & J. Katz eds. Philosophy of Emerging Media (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

A philosophical inquiry into the nature of information and communication media raises conceptual and ontological questions. This analysis provides conceptual mappings and also raises the question of what is involved in the emergence of media out of some prior state from which they were absent, and again in subsequent phases of higher-level emergent phenomena. “Emergence” can be understood in a number of ways: epistemically, causally, or metaphysically, and there is a danger of equivocating between these different senses in general or in considering particular levels of media emergence alone, and drawing the wrong conclusions. In describing and attempting to understand recent developments in “emerging media” it may be useful to consider an analogy with developments in the visual arts involving the transition from figurative naturalism to abstractionism, then to minimalism, and from these to performance art and conceptualism.

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