Snap to Grid
A User's Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures
A vibrant guide to the artistic, cultural, and social faces of the new media.
In Snap to Grid, an idiosyncratic guide to the interactive, telematic era, Peter Lunenfeld maps out the trajectories that digital technologies have traced upon our cultural imaginary. His clear-eyed evaluation of new media includes an impassioned discussion—informed by the discourses of technology, aesthetics, and cultural theory—of the digital artists, designers, and makers who matter most. "Snap to grid" is a command that instructs the computer to take hand-drawn lines and plot them precisely in Cartesian space. Users regularly disable this function the moment they open an application because the gains in predictability and accuracy are balanced against the losses of ambiguity and expressiveness. Lunenfeld uses "snap to grid" as a metaphor for how we manipulate and think about the electronic culture that enfolds us. In this book he snaps his seduction by the machine to the grid of critical thinking. How can we compare new media to established media? Must we revert to a default dichotomy between utopia and desolation, the notion that media, even digital media, by themselves can redeem or damn us? As he answers these and other questions, Lunenfeld takes into account the post-1989 politico-economic context in which new media have developed and grounds the insights of theory in the constraints of production. Artists discussed include Mark Amerika, Char Davies, Hollis Frampton, William Gibson, Gary Hill, Perry Hobermann, JODI, Christian Möller, Adam Ross, Jennifer Steinkamp, Stelarc, and Diana Thater.