Electronic art admits of no single definition. It is created in a variety of media and with the electronic aspect being interpreted in a variety of ways, including closed camera feedback, digital origins, digital processing, robotics, electronic devices controlled by people’s movements, and other types of technology. Much of it invites or even relies on participant interaction.
Creations in virtual reality programs, such as Second Life®, are one form of art that is considered to be electronic art. Second Life® is a digital world in which people interact using a digital persona called an avatar. A creation done for and used in Second Life® is both digitally created and digitally transmitted. When used in the Second Life® environment, others who are also in the environment can meet, talk to, and connect with the avatar, so the creation is an interactive form of electronic art. Avatars in this, and other, virtual realities are created by people all over the world, who are able to interact with each other despite enormous distances between them.
Electronic music is another example of electronic art. There are many types of electronic music, but one type of electronic music is created with an electronic instrument called the theremin. The theremin is played by hand movements interacting with the instrument and controlling pitch and volume by altering the electromagnetic fields of two antennas. It was invented by Lev Theremin in the USSR in the 1920s, and continued in development for a number of years thereafter.
In 2009, one award in the Prix Ars Electronica — an international electronic arts competition — went to Eduardo Kac, along with his partners at the Department of Horticultural Science and the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. Kac received the Hybrid Art award for his work called “Natural History of the Enigma” in which he transplanted a gene from his own DNA into a petunia, resulting in an “Edunia,” which is accompanied by a sculpture, photographs, and a print suite. The electronics come in, for example, in the use of 3D imaging used to in the conceptualization of the sculpture based on the proteins and molecules of the flower.
The term electronic art could also be applied to television broadcasts, podcasts, videos, movies with CGI (computer-generated images) or other computer effects, and other art forms. Online video games are another interactive form of electronic art. It is highly likely that new forms of electronic art will continue to be invented.