In the last decade, German humanities have developed a broad, general and transhistorical notion of media as “mediality” (“Medialität”) in which any material or imaginary carrier of information qualifies as a medium, from CPUs to angels. (Cramer, 2009)
This paper considers how the notion of mediality, as an expanded conception of media, affects the notion of Media Arts. If the concept of media arts practice was once chiefly concerned with modern technological forms of audio-visual representation (photography, film, video, etc.) and then, under the guise of ‘new media’, developed a primary concern with the implications of the digital (electronics, computation and networked interaction), then where are we now? What are the artistic traditions, forms of practice and bodies of theoretical understanding that lend disciplinary coherence to Media Arts? My particular interest is in how Media Arts is positioned within the Australian higher-education context. More specifically, how does it relate to the apparently more general field of Visual Arts? Is it better regarded as a distinct entity or as crucial new perspective within a mainstream Visual Arts education? I am leaning towards the latter view, partly because the ‘medial’ conception of Media Arts practice lacks general currency within Australia. There is the awkward assumption that Media Arts
study will focus narrowly on conventional media and the teaching of industry-relevant media production skills. The field of Visual Art is at least slightly insulated from these expectations and may provide a better umbrella for experimental media arts practice. These issues are considered in relation to the development of the Media Arts program within the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong.