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A Paradigm Shift Caused by the Impact of Interactive Multimedia Technologies

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“We can get a better idea of the implications of Barr’s (Alfred H. Barr Jr.) critical model by seeing it as a paradigm a similar way to that proposed by Thomas S. Kuhn, the historian of science. Kuhn explains change in scientific theory not as a linear series of revolutions but as shifts of paradigms….an existing paradigm comes under stress when it fails to solve or explain fresh problems. A new paradigm becomes dominant when it promises to explain selected and seemingly incompatible examples which the old paradigm cannot. Barr’s view was that the existing paradigm for art history and criticism was under stress because it could not systematically account for modern developments.”

Using examples of �text’ an �artefacts’ encountered in the module, discuss the signs of stress in the �modernist � and �Postmodernist � paradigm caused by the impact of interactive multimedia technologies. Does the advent of these technologies call for a �paradigm shift’ or is it possible to elaborate and extend Barr’s theoretical model to �account for modern developments’.


Metaphorically we could say that History is a river. As it flows, many small streams meet the river and its direction and volume shift every time a new stream falls into it. The streams are the different epochs which form history and they can also be defined as paradigms. The �paradigm’ terminology derived from Thomas L. Kuhn (1972, the structure of scientific revolutions, University of Chicago Press) and this term is been widely used today and has been applied to many different areas. We define paradigm as a set of principles or ideas that unconsciously underlie all our thoughts and actions. Applied to the history of science , Kuhns analysis goes broadly as it follows:

“Science experiences periods of adherence to a given paradigm which may last for some time until the paradigm is overthrown by observations which do not �fit’. The period of overthrown is called a paradigm shift.”

The intention of this essay is to discuss about the paradigms of Modernism and post modernism, in the context of art history, and to investigate the impact of interactive multimedia technologies. There are two views on this debate. Some critics believe that those two paradigms are outdated and they should be substituted by a new one. Others argue that both paradigms are collaborating and progressing in order to explain current roused circumstances.

To clarify the debate it will be useful to distinguish the discourses of the modern and the post-modern starting from the modern. What is it or what it used to be? The explanations for this inquest could monopolise the essay by themselves so I will attempt to resume the most important aspects of the modernism Paradigm. To begin we might distinguish between modernity conceptualised as the modern age and Postmodernity as the epoch which follows. The term �Modern’ means: to make it new. There are many discourses of modernity which will be later part of Postmodernity. The term �Modern’ refers to a variety of economic, political, social and cultural transformations. From the 18th century onwards is a period of human history which was dedicated to the concept of social progress and human perfection. This is known as the �Enlightenment Project’ and it was characterised by innovation, novelty and dynamism.

The 19th century was the age of the Industrial revolution, the era that people had faith in the progress and change of human race, a period of industrial growth but also of absolute confusion. As the industrial revolution progressed there was an increasing number of people who begun to view the �new age’ from a different perspective, not one of advance and development but one of oppression, isolation, arrogance, alienation from nature and loss of man’s contact with the other people and his inner self. Many artists and writers were drawn to substitute forms of religion such as New Paganism, Buddhism and generally to beliefs that were concerned with nature in an attempt to refuse industrialism and modernism. Change brought loss of faith in the classical tradition which was regarded as the ideal model. A new ideology about mankind and its direction was flourishing and were more people concerned about their self development. The principal concept was that through art, humanity could discover a new way of expression, liberated from the elements that used to guide art in previous times, such as literature, classicism or even the subjects themselves. The purpose of that shift was people’s motivation which derived from their own fears and needs and had little to do with ideals of beauty and harmony. On the other hand others observed the modernist

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