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New Media Futures

The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts

Blazing artistic trails through the digital age

Trailblazing women working in digital arts media and education established the Midwest as an international center for the artistic and digital revolution in the 1980s and beyond. Foundational events at the University of Illinois and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago created an authentic, community-driven atmosphere of creative expression, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration that crossed gender lines and introduced artistically informed approaches to advanced research.

Interweaving historical research with interviews and full-color illustrations, New Media Futures captures the spirit and contributions of twenty-two women working within emergent media as diverse as digital games, virtual reality, medicine, supercomputing visualization, and browser-based art. The editors and contributors give voice as creators integral to the development of these new media and place their works at the forefront of social change and artistic inquiry. What emerges is the dramatic story of how these midwestern explorations in the digital arts produced a web of fascinating relationships. These fruitful collaborations helped usher in the digital age that propelled social media.

Contributors: Carolina Cruz-Niera, Collen Bushell, Nan Goggin, Mary Rasmussen, Dana Plepys, Maxine Brown, Martyl Langsdorf, Joan Truckenbrod, Barbara Sykes, Abina Manning, Annette Barbier, Margaret Dolinsky, Tiffany Holmes, Claudia Hart, Brenda Laurel, Copper Giloth, Jane Veeder, Sally Rosenthal, and Lucy Petrovic.

"This is a fascinating and important book. It will appeal to scientists, technologists, artists and the general public. It tells wonderfully exciting stories of creative, risk-taking women (and men) that will inspire present and future generations. These stories demonstrate that the creative spark that drives scientists and artists knows no disciplinary boundaries. And it is simply a delightful read."--Walter E. Massey, Chancellor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

"This important anthology offers riveting testimonials to the tangible contributions of women during the dawn of the digital era. Concentrated in the Midwest, these scientists, inventors, designers and artists faced down gender bias to shape the global future of technology and culture."--Sara Diamond, President, OCAD University

"It was one of the formative periods in my life to be associated with many of the creative women in this book. It was a magic period, when these women helped transform the world as we knew it. I am so happy to see their innovative work is finally getting the attention it deserves."--Larry Smarr, Founding Director, Calit2 and NCSA


Donna Cox is the associate director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications Research and Education, the eDream (the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media) Institute, and the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, and a professor in the School of Art & Design at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Ellen Sandor is the founding artist and director of (art)n, cofounder of the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection, and advisory board chair at the Gene Siskel Film Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Janine Fron is an independent game artist and researcher, cofounder of Ludica, and the creative director of (art)n.

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