Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art

Dear Leonardo colleagues,

I am delighted to announce the arrival from MIT Press of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. Thank you so much for your support of this project. It turned out to be a remarkably solid, handsome book, richly illustrated and, if I may say so, excitingly written. Here’s the page at MIT Press (http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=12257).

Enfoldment and Infinity establishes points of contact between classical Islamic art and contemporary computer-based art. For example, both are often aniconic, both are performative, both unfold from an invisible source. Establishing and inventing Islamic “roots” for new media art, the book argues that specific moments of classical Islamic thought give us new and fruitful ways to think about contemporary art. The book also traces what I call “the haptic transfer and the travels of the abstract line”: how Islamic aesthetics journeyed westward from medieval times on, drawing out powers of abstraction and embodiment, ultimately to inform modernism and contemporary new media art. It demonstrates meeting points between Islamic thought and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, and it proposes an enfolding-unfolding aesthetics to explain how artworks (and other things) unfold from the universe through a filter of information.

“After reading Laura Marks’s lucid Enfoldment and Infinity, which leads us through the deep time layers of Arabic-Islamic arts and sciences, we have to give up our established concepts of media history. … Chapter by chapter, it becomes evident that some of the most important modern paradigms like pixels, algorithms, morphs, or even virtual reality and artificial life have not been originally generated by the Occident, but through L’Age d’Or of the Orient.” — Siegfried Zielinski

“The most inventive synthesis of European and Islamic thought since Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia ” —James Elkins

“Admirably researched, beautifully documented, and written with dedicated passion” —Patricia Pisters

A beautiful web site (www.enfoldment.net) by Finn Brunton, with nine original works by artist-programmers, demonstrates several of the “manners of unfolding” the book describes.

Thanks again, and warm wishes to all,
Laura Marks

Dr. Laura U. Marks
Dena Wosk University Professor in Art and Culture Studies
School for the Contemporary Arts
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver

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