Edward A. Shanken – Art and Electronic Media

Edward A. Shanken

Phaidon Press, ISBN-13: 978-0714847825, UK, 2009, English
The size of a book is often influencing the reader. The so called “coffee table” size is either meant to entertain the casual reader in a usually public reading space, or to enhance the publisher’s effort on the chosen topic, giving it the physical status of a referential book. “Art and Electronic Media” is a coffee table sized book of tree hundred pages, but looking at it as a definitive reference on the topic could be misguiding. Its undisputed main quality seems to be its fresh heterogeneousness, excellently combining eclecticism and very good research at the intersection of electronic media and art. The book sports a peculiar historical documentation. In fact a conspicuous number of historical artworks from the 20th Century is here briefly documented (both in words and clear pictures), contextualising them with more recent ones, in a broad contemporary perspective. So one of the peculiarity of this book is its iconography, building up three hundred pictures, a substantial part of which are new even to the majority of book’s target readers, revealing as a precious resource. Even if most of the artworks are from Western artists, Shanken integrated renewed ones with underground artists in an effective collection of works of art that coherently uses and abuse communication rules and tools. With a last section dedicated to historical texts and manifestos from the distant and recent past Art and Electronic Media can be considered as a reference in its own, and it’d be undoubtedly useful to both electronic art scholars and enthusiasts.