The term ‘new media’ has been explicated extensively by Lev
Manovich in his book “The Language of New Media”. Nonetheless, the
use of such term has been debated rather indefinitely by other scholars.
In the case of Malaysia, the term appeared few years after the term E-art was introduced in the seminal “1st. Electronic Art Show” (1997). In Malaysia, the term has been received in a more generic manner due to it’s hybrid, multi-dimensional and multi-faceted nature, embracing many other disciplines beyond the confine of modern art.
London-based Malaysian curator-writer-artist-scholar Roopesh Sitharan (2013) for example, problematizes the epistemological fluidity of the term ‘new media’ by substituting the term with simply, ‘it’(perhaps as a pun for the acronym I.T that stands for Information Technology).
On the other hand, local curator-writer Tan Sei Hon (2010, p 021) has the following biting and gloomy reading to offer, “In our age of ‘horizontal’ development, in most if not all endeavours, the word ‘new’ has now come to mean nothing more than another sequel, prequel or remake of an existing story, a rehashing/re-spinning of (un)popular and competing/conflicting narratives, rediscovery and appropriation of previous styles/trends or add-on features to instant upgrades on an existing product all competing in the open market.” In a way, Sei Hon is implying the lack of ontological trajectory in approaching contemporary art practice. However, he does not specifically identify which practice. He is probably referring to the current state of “conservative” contemporary art scene in Malaysia, with “many artists producing paintings (due to economic prudence)….”(Ibid, p024).