Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art (Book)

Edited by Tanya Ravn Ag

An embracive, multi-perspective tour through and beyond Nordic artistic experiments, conceptual reconfigurations and new modes of artistic agency.

Offering an in-depth exploration of art’s contingent evolution with technology and digital culture, this book goes far beyond familiar depictions of ‘Nordic aesthetics’ in art. It explores art’s role and inquiries in response to changing sociopolitical realities in the welfare state and in the wider world. First-hand perspectives of pioneering and pivotal artists form the basis of chapters penned by leading scholars and curators of Nordic art. Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art recasts the Nordic art context in an expanding digital condition and reveals horizontal ways to write its histories.

Chapters by Tanya Toft Ag, Jamie Allen, Laura Beloff, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Jonatan Habib Engqvist, Bernhard Garnicnig, Elizabeth Jochum, Ulla Angkjær Jørgensen, Jens Tang Kristensen, Mads Dejbjerg Lind, Björn Norberg, Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir, Jøran Rudi, Lorella Scacco, Morten Søndergaard, Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen, and Stahl Stenslie.

Tanya Toft Ag (editor) is a curator and scholar specializing in media and digital art and its urban implications.


Over the past few decades, the Nordic region has witnessed large shifts in its political, social and international outlook. Meanwhile, its art, commonly described as introverted, contemplative and wild, is also undergoing changes. As technology embeds itself further into the contemporary art scene, there is a renewed need to examine the role of art in society and everyday life, and to consider how the digitalization of art has tackled socio-political realities, locally and in the wider world.

Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art includes a collection of testimonials from 78 artists, connected to Nordic art, who employ concepts and/or tools relating to the digital in their practice. Their statements form the basis of the essays in Part 2, penned by leading scholars affiliated with the Nordic art context, which inquire into the digital influences on contemporary art, with particular attention paid to the national and international Nordic socio-political context.

Landscapes, nature, minimalism, melancholia – this book examines how these traditional Nordic tropes hold up in the growing field of digital contemporary art, and asks: to what extent have digital dynamics been adopted into the imaginaries and practices of Nordic artists?

Tanya Toft Ag, Ph.D., (editor) is a curator, researcher, writer and lecturer on urban media aesthetic phenomena and media art’s engagement with societal and urban change. She gained her doctoral degree from Copenhagen University with visiting scholarships at Columbia University and Konstfack (CuratorLab), and MA degrees from The New School and Copenhagen University. Her curatorial practice evolves with media art and media architecture in urban environments, and she has held keynotes and presented her critical perspectives on art and urban media worldwide. She is editor of Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art (Intellect, 2019) and co-editor of What Urban Media Art Can Do – Why, When, Where, and How? (av edition, 2016). In 2017 she co-founded the globally networked Urban Media Art Academy. In 2018-2020 her research is situated at School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong.



Part 1
Artist Testimonials
On Being an Artist with the Digital
On Digital Tools, Methods and Research Processes
On Materiality and Behaviour in Digital Art
On Art Between Forms and Fields
On Perception and Art’s Experience
On Nordic Aesthetic Conditions and Identification
On Participatory Practices and Collaboration
On Art and Society 
On (Alternative, Urban and Public) Spaces for Digital Art
On Art and Representation
On Art, Nature and Environment

Part 2
Dynamic Seclusion: Nordic Noir and Digital Culture
Jonatan Habib Engqvist

Concretism and Danish Digital Art: New Political Dialogues from an Avant-Garde Perspective
Jens Tang Kristensen

The Art of Instituting 
Jamie Allen and Bernhard Garnicnig

Representation, Complexity and Control: Three Aspects of Technology-Based Sonic Art
Jøran Rudi

Uneasy Listening: Perspectives on (Nordic) Sound Art after the Digital 
Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

Reformulations of the ‘Natural’ World: Jana Winderen’s Sound Installation The Wanderer
Ulla Angkjær Jørgensen

The Intertwining of the Digital and the Biological in Artistic Practice 
Laura Beloff

In Between Worlds 
Björn Norberg

Virtual Worldmaking: Cultivating Digital Art Practice 
Elizabeth Jochum and Mads Deibjerg Lind

Computational Diffusion and Art’s Radical Rematerialization 
Tanya Toft Ag

Critical Thoroughness: The Dynamics of the Artist as User and Producer of Digital Elements
Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen

Interactivity Dynamics 
Lorella Scacco

Where the Inaction Is: The Politics of Digital Things and the Significance of the Lab… In the Practices of Laura Beloff, Kollision and Mogens Jacobsen
Morten Søndergaard

Visions and Divides in Icelandic Contemporary Art 
Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir

Digital Dragons of the North: On Digital Dynamics and New Nature in Nordic Aesthetics
Stahl Stenslie

Conclusion: Horizons for Nordic Contemporary (Digital) Art 
Tanya Toft Ag

'Rich source on "the digital & the arts" – great to explore.'

Oliver Grau, Professor for Image Science and Member of Academia Europaea

'This book achieves to forge new pathways in the studies of contemporary art by expertly balancing regional, national and international contexts for understanding Nordic artistic practice shaped by digital technologies. Short artist testimonials and chapters by seventeen experts in Nordic digital art trace the variety of influences that have been affecting the art scenes in the region. Structured around dynamics including materiality, perception and collaboration, as well as Nordic noir, political dialogues and institutions, the text provides a much needed account that links people, places, and events within a matrix of local and global influences. Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art both provides an indispensable survey and expands the art-historical canon by exploring uncharted territories.'

Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of Digital Art, Whitney Museum Director/Chief Curator, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons/The New School

'Contemporary digital culture is both global and local, or "glocal" as the catchword goes. The interplay of traditions and ideas matters and is necessary to explain the complexities we all are dealing with in our daily lives. This book offers a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion by offering a Nordic perspective – or rather, perspectives: as the varied contributions show, the digital arts and cultural initiatives that originate in the Nordic countries are anything but monomanic.'

Erkki Huhtamo, Professor of Design Media Arts and Film, Television and Digital Media, UCLA

'A timely introduction to the ways in which digital culture has changed art practice in the Nordic Region.'

Ina Blom, author of The Autobiography of Video. The Life and Times of a Memory Technology (2016)

'With this vast exploration of the artistic landscape, the media art compass points to a North that was not clearly mapped, revealing the political, social and aesthetic strata and their interweaving tectonics that underlies the most contemporary forms of Nordic art practices.'

Maurice Benayoun, artist and Professor at City University of Hong Kong
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