Miltos Manetas. Contemporary art and the new digital technologies

The works of Miltos Manetas describe the contemporary reality dominated by the effects of new media and digital devices; the artist is not just focused on the translation of the contemporary media in a system of images, but he develops new forms of expression that weld the artistic gesture with technological thinking and allow a thorough reflection on the relationship between humans and new media.

Miltos Manetas,; 2009; screenshot; courtesy l’artista (

Thanks to his experience as a painter, Manetas represents the technological world painting new technological gadgets and consumer electronics. In this way, he transcribes pictorially objects of the technological society, allowing the viewer to own the computing devices not only in their utilitarian sense but in their aesthetic connotation. In addition, Manetas’ paintings depict the relationship between the human and the technological tools. This relationship has changed over time, in parallel with innovations that have taken place in the context of new media; there are thus works dedicated to the proxemics of the video game and computer that testify the evolution of this mode of interaction with electronic equipment.

Cables and videogame controller

Miltos Manetas, Cables and videogame controllers; 1998; olio su tela; McDuggal Collection, San Francisco

Since the mid-nineties, Manetas appropriates artistically video games, which are reprogrammed through practices of game modification, in order to incorporate new meanings and aesthetic functions. In 2000, the artist founded Neen, an art movement related to digital culture, conceived as an art form specific to the Internet. Neen‘s works – interactive interfaces that consist of synthetic images and Flash animations – use the web as a means of production and the place of use of the work; Manetas and the Neenstars (those who adhere to the movement) buy a domain and work only on the home page, with their creations that transform the Web page in an animated space. The aim is therefore to renew the experience on the Web, by proposing new models of experience that would expand the possibilities of expression offered by the Web and exploit the virtual as a communicative and relational horizon.

jacksonpollock.orgMiltos Manetas,; 2003; screenshot; courtesy l’artista (

Blackberry Paintings is the last work of Manetas, a series of works started in 2010. They are, despite the name, black and white video shot with a particular type of smartphone, where you see the hand of the artist simulating to draw, with a traditional brush that moves into the void, the outline of what he looks. In these works there is a strong interdependence between pictorial and multimedia; painting and its conventions, in fact, are transmuted into video through the use of a technological support. In turn, each of these mediums loses its specificity and is redefined to articulate the work in which the individual disciplines converge in a plural system, that gives shape to a composite language.

painting a train leaving the train station

Miltos Manetas, Painting a train leaving a train station; 2010; still video; courtesy l’artista (

The entire artistic path of Miltos Manetas is therefore eclectic and varied; he does not favor one aspect of his practice in favor of another, but develops in a coherent manner all the many possibilities that allow him to take advantage of the changes taking place in reality shaped by new technologies, often offering an alternative vision.

Ilenia Moschini

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