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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  2004

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING 2004

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Subject:

Feb Theme of the Month: Formal Research 2

From:

Beryl Graham <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Beryl Graham <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 9 Feb 2004 11:30:52 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (152 lines)

Dear List,

Alex Adriaansens of V2_ organisation has prepared a text from the
conference which provides more material on the content of the event. I
hope it will be useful for this month's theme.

-------------

Understanding Media Art Research
A conference organised by V2_Organisation (Rotterdam, Netherlands) on
January 15 2004 Speakers: Saskia Sassen (USA), Catherine Richards (CDN),
Tapio Makela (FIN), Ole Boumand (NL). Moderator: Christine de Baan (NL)

The conference wanted to unfold an understanding on the position of
interdisciplinary research in contemporary art practice(s) and
specifically in the realm of art and media(technology). The conference
started by addressing the issue of interdisciplinarity and media in a
broader social cultural context and then make it more specific through
each speaker. The keynote speaker to build the more general framework
focussing on the broader social, cultural transformations in society in
which research and interdisciplinary practices can be understood in a
broad context, was Saskia Sassen from the university in Chicago. Saskia
Sassen explained about the difficulties in her own programs in dealing
with the issues of methodologies and language in such practices. She
explained what her research programs are focussing on which are the
social and cultural transformations occurring by using media technology,
and how new practices are constituted. When communicating with Saskia I
asked her if my presumptions are fitting her thoughts on this. I mean
that I assume that the historical rise of specializations in the past
centuries lead to specific practices that all have a certain introvert
attitude and lead to specific (closed) methodologies of working and the
institutionalisation of these practices. This means that one will always
face "the end of the street" and that a specialization has to be able to
establish new relations and connections in time, and thus rethink or
reposition itself. Interdisciplinarity gets a specific meaning in this context.

Since some decennia there seems a growing need for ‘connection machines’
(as I call certain new organizations like for example V2_) that create
platforms were people from different practices can work together in
projects and thus create new insights in and directions to old
specialistic practices, or that can generate/stimulate new practices.

V2_ sees this development as a more general development of our time, as
a more general transformation of older social, cultural, economic
structures coming out of the need to re-dynamise, thus to deal with the
complex and heterogeneous perception of the world we’re part of. It
focuses on the will to rethink structures that support or are derived
from older specialist practices. So new practices, evolving from new
insights and new believes, ask for new organizational models. The
question might be if complexity, dynamic processes and our insight and
interest in heterogeneous processes indeed ask for new models.
Contemporary needs are less focused on more specialization as well as to
reconnect, reposition and rethink these specializations within a context
of interdisciplinary practices (a kind of contextualisation of the
specializations one could also say).

Ole Bouman (chief editor of the Architectural magazine Archis, curator
and critic) expressed his dissapointment about the slowness of the
transformations in the specialised artistic practices that could give
needed impulses to artistic practices in general to deal with, and
reflect on, our actual understanding and design of a dynamic worldview.
For him media technology promised so much when thinking about the
opportunities for the arts but for some reasons this didn’t happen.
There seems to be little understanding in the specialised artistic
practices how media technology is transforming our understanding of
reality and what this might mean for their practice. This issue wasn’t
very well debated which is a pity as it is a serious problem when
looking to the development of new educational programs and the profiling
of new artistic practices that develop in between and outside of the
established artistic practices. The issue of the institutionalisation of
the specialised practices seems to block the dynamics and
transformations needed to rethink these practices.

The conference became more specific with each speaker and thus wanted to
give a good insight in what art organizations like V2_, focusing on
research and interdisciplinarity by creating connection machines, are
actually doing, and how this relates to very contemporary social and
cultural transformations in society in general. Also the organisational
models that are developed in this context are interesting to take a
closer look at as these model try to deal with interdisciplinarity,
dynamics and diversity but only do this by creating new work-structures,
and structures to organise knowledge and expertise that build on the
specialised practices. In times of the popularisation of politics, were
the simplification of world models promises to deliver answers to
difficult social questions in a short time, research is a very hard
practice to sell, while research is very much needed to develop new
practices and insights. It is therefore needed that organisations
working in this field develop ways of communicating their work on a
different level to the audience that we know from regular art
presentation spaces. V2_ has been looking at this issue by inviting for
example essay writers to write about certain aspects of the work done at
V2_ and the themes in it. This has to be further developed, it is one
way of broadening an understanding of media art research and media art
(unstable art as V2_ calls it) in general.

Tapio Makela from Finland presented some results from a deep research he
did for his PhD on new organisational models for art organisations and
educational programs in the arts relating to mediatechnology. He took a
look at several models being developed (like the connection machine of
V2_) and how to translate this to the specific national conditions like
Finland (Nokia-land as he called it). He addressed the issue of dealing
with global flows and connecting it local practices.

He also looked at the methodologies that are used in artistic practices
for developing artworks. He pointed out that dealing with research needs
a kind of ‘open approach’ for developing the work instead of being to
much end result and being object oriented. Understanding the process of
research and development is a central issue. He mentioned that his
research showed that artists working in a more open approach were more
successful at the end then artists working in a more hermetic modus.

Catherine Richards (CDN) being an artist working in the field of art and
science through scientific research programs, presented her experience
as an artist and showed to what artistic practices the theme of the
conference relates to. The work of Catherine Richards has a very rich
approach and is able to bridge certain practices. Also she mentioned the
open approach in developing her work through research. Catherine
Richards is directly involved in a program were the arts and the
National Research program of Canada collaborate through fellowships for
artists that take 2 years or more.

So with a prominent list of speakers and debaters V2_ reflected on the
contemporary rise of interdisciplinary research projects and how this is
coming about in media arts and design practices. It was done by
contextualising the topic within the broader scope of contemporary
social, cultural transformations and by focusing on the characteristics
of these transformations. By analyzing these transformations it was
identified what is transforming and how, and what kind of practices are
developed and needed to deal with these transformations.

The speakers each in their own way related the development of
interdisciplinarity and the issue of research to the rise of new models
for economic, social and cultural organization and how this is coming
about in the arts in general and media art practices specifically. The
models and projects had in common that they emphasized on the need to be
able to act and interact within contemporary complex and heterogeneous
social and cultural domains and its processes. Understanding the new
relations and connections between once severe separated and specialized
domains formulate the conditions for, and characteristics of these new
social and cultural practices.

Complex interaction and dynamic relations shape our understanding of the
processes in a more and more heterogeneous society in which these
transformations are happening. Rethinking and redesigning the
organizational structures of the organizations, institutions active in
society became a decisive factor to deal with theses transformations and
its underlying processes. It is our belief that interdisciplinary and
research oriented organizations play an important role in this.


Alex Adriaansens

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