straight up
"In the future, the only artwork that will survive will have no gravity at all."
– Nam June Paik
Marcos Novak's 3D construction,
Voice 3 + 4 Maze Blue

The breadth and potential of multimedia lends itself to utopian proposals. The French media theorist Pierre Levy describes multimedia as belonging to a trajectory of planetary evolution that runs from DNA to cyberspace – an arc that follows pure information as it reaches towards its most evolved form of expression. He proposes that today's global networks will usher in an era of "collective intelligence," and suggests that "cyberspace constitutes a vast, unlimited field... designed to interconnect and provide interface for the various methods of creation, recording, communication and simulation." His enthusiastic perspective is full of intriguing possibilities.

At the same time, we are all aware of the dystopian qualities of the 24/7 infotainment juggernaut that is being delivered across the globe through an ever more sophisticated telecommunications network. We read daily about the new media's encroachment on privacy, its opportunity for abuse, and the specter of centralized control that it might make possible. These dangers are real. There is a tension between opposing at the heart of the Internet – between those who prize its potential for an open, freewheeling exchange of art and ideas, and those who see its pervasiveness as an opportunity to expand upon the marketing-driven broadcast model of 20th century media – and it is not at all clear whether utopian or dystopian visions will ultimately prevail.

This project serves as a poignant reminder of the intentions of multimedia's pioneers. Their words, typically written during the heat of invention, convey a passionate involvement with higher ideals. To a remarkable degree, these scientists, artists, and theorists share a commitment to forms of media and communications that are non-hierarchical, open, collaborative, and reflective of the free movement of the mind at play. It is, in sum, an extraordinary vision. But whether we will achieve it is an unresolved question.