School of the Arts

New Media: A New Way of Seeing

by Naomi Keeler

The Nature of Video by Eric SoutherThe Nature of Video by Eric Souther

What is new media? Essentially, it is electronic communication. Sounds simple right? Do not be fooled. New media is more complex than it seems. It is more a way of working than a single, closely defined medium. New media encompasses a broad range of projects from interactive medical visualizations to thought provoking art. “I think in a lot of ways, new media is a thinking medium.” says Assistant Professor of New Media Eric Souther. “It allows for thoughts and ideas to be explored in real-time. I think [new media] is a very post-modern form that’s coming out of the collaboration between art and technology.”

The new in new media is the artist’s use of evolving digital technologies that saturate the world we live in. According to Souther, “New media is a way in which you can create experiences and immersive environments…the great thing about new media is that it is everywhere.” Different forms of new media are seen all around us; they include interactive websites, apps (iPhone), music, video, design, responsive environments, and computer graphics.

New Media at IU South Bend has two concentrations: graphic design and multi-media for video and audio. “With new media there are tool sets that our students can utilize to satisfy industry demands and also explore artistic practices for gallery aesthetics,” says Souther.  “For me, the technology allowed me to see and to develop things that I was seeing in my mind, at a rate much faster and more playful than more traditional materials of art making.”

The majority of the students entering new media classes are digital natives, people born after the general implementation of digital technology and who are familiar with digital technologies. Souther feels “digital natives are ready for more complex ways of thinking about media.” He believes teaching problem solving skills, to learn any software and how to push the software beyond its limits are valuable for his students. Students are encouraged to explore their perceptions of the world and how we think about it, using the technology to push creativity, and using creativity to push the technology.  

After “playing” with the software to learn intended functions, students have the knowledge to explore the creativity beyond the technology’s intended use. Noting Galileo’s discoveries with the telescope Souther explains, “He was seeing things that no one had ever seen before through his telescope. Galileo’s discoveries were not made through him using technology as it was, but his discoveries came from modifying and pushing the technology, which allowed him to observe sunspots, and the moon.” 

One of the most important things for students to participate in is having their work shown publicly. Says Souther, “The danger of working on the computer is if you don’t get it off there and in the public eye then nobody sees it.” A variety of mediums are used by students to share their art, such online, 033 Media Lounge, galleries, exhibitions, and film/video festivals. Being active in the community and being able to show their work is essential when creating a resume. “Working in this field, being an artist or creative thinker depends heavily on being able to self-promote, and that is very difficult no matter what medium you use.”

On campus, students will be able to see more new media creations upon the completion of the new Education and Arts Building which will house additional lab space for new media students. Currently the New Media area hosts video screenings twice to share their work each semester. The next screening is schedule for December 2nd in 1001 Wiekamp Hall.