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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  February 2007

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING February 2007

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Subject:

Re: fresh! Reflections

From:

roger malina <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

roger malina <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 17 Feb 2007 21:48:16 +0100

Content-Type:

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Patrick

Thanks for replying to my question at ISEA !! ( my other question
was "does ISEA have a body ".)

Several thoughts roiling through as I read your comments. The first
is that it is so great that we now have many major symposia organised
by people in our professions - i remember meeting win van der plas
and theo hesper in a basement pub in London in the mid 1980s when
they had this plan to start ISEA, we were still dealing with the "is
computer art an art form' question at the time, siggraph had only just
started its art venues and important academic institutions were proud
not to have computers in their art departments. The music schools however
were hard at it and the International Computer Music Conferences were
in place. And Christine Schopf and weibel and Leopoldseder were
developing ars electronica.

It is really good also seeing the REFRESH to REPLACE to ..where next ?
(Has a group proposed to hold the third conference two years after Berlin ?)
building to create a place for discussion of the histories of all this
stuff. The
initial idea for REFRESH was hatched between Oliver Grau, Sara Diamond
and myself in a restaurant during ISEA in Japan. ISEA at least is a crossing
place.

So the good news is that we are now victims of our success= the
art and computer community now has dozens of venues a year and
every university is trying to put itself on the map, with varying levels
of vitality....and art using computers no longer defines a field of practice

I doubt that I can agree with your statement

""""That is, while the best
scholars seem to be creating work of increasing density (and some,
acuity), they are becoming increasingly divorced from the public,""""

I dont know when this golden age existed when intellectuals
were not divorced from the public !!! (ask Socrates or Galileo)

But more seriously it is clear that critical discussion is evolving
in a new landscape and that there are many avenues for developing
serious discussions of new work, and new ideas and that the universities
do not have any monopoly on this= nor did they ever


I am interested in jon ippolitos discussion started during REPLACE
about how one could develop "reputation metrics" like everyone i
spend a couple of hours a day on blogs, lists but it is damn hard to
find one's way to the interesting discussions ( thanks crumb)-
during the internet bubble i worked with mark beam and the straddle3
in Barcelona group to try and develop a tracking system that would sniff out
new ideas
that were developing traction ( or sinking from view) sort of like a stock
market of ideas and people..there are a number of systems that do that now
probably better than peer review of abstracts submitted to a conference

Universities have one advantage..they move slowly into new fields, but once
there they move out slowly...at least in places that still have the concept
of tenure..so no doubt a hundred years from now we will be attacking
the web art departments as being ossified and resisting integrated the
new art forms of the 22nd century


so i guess i think the real response to patrick's angst is that a new
ecology of places to discuss interesting topics is developing..ISEA may
be an idea whose time is passed...but there is a whole network of events
out there of different scales and in different cultures working at the
problems=
and indeed the situation is different when we didnt have globalised
interconnection
and such rapid flow of ideas and work= the university is the wrong place to
look for a rapid response to a changing world


i guess one of my concerns that was behing my "does ISEA have a body"
question is that so much of the new media work seems to be divorced from
areas of societal turmoil..its strange how the ecological art community is
so separate from the new media community

there is a group in Brazil working on a new art and technology center called
in english "the Human Project" ... so how does all this new media work
and discussion contribute to the "human project" ( and yes does the ISEA
body belong in it)

roger

On 2/17/07, patrick lichty <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> Hello, everyone.
>
> A couple weeks ago, someone asked for a critical reflection upon the
> Re:fresh conference, and after talking to Sarah about my hesitancy in
> taking a critical stance, she felt that my approach was balanced enough
> to engage with the subject.  The problem with being a critical thinker
> is that whereas pure advocates wish to foreground the positive and
> minimize the negative, criticism (in my mind, and from Krishnamurti)
> seeks a balanced and detached assessment of all known viewpoints.
>
> I was there to cover it for Intelligent Agent (at which time we are now
> finally working out the details of an issue covering the remaining
> articles not in the book).  While my assessment will be relatively
> short, I would like to refer to Christiane's review of the event, which
> was very well done, although I am, again, a little more critical of the
> event.   Keep in mind that, although I am critical and complementary to
> the event, I am also complicit in that I plan to publish some of the
> material that was presented.  This is to say that I an part of the
> system that I criticize and do not hide that fact.
>
> In general, I found the conference a direct institutional application of
> Foucaultian intellectual power and legitimation.  In few places have I
> seen such a systematic organization of agendas to construct,
> disseminate, establish, and legitimate a discursive thread within global
> art historical traditions.  While I find that this probably needs to be
> done in order to create cohesive narratives in some areas, I was deeply
> conflicted that while many were promoting colonial criticism,
> multiculturalism and diversity on one hand, the whole event was, by its
> very nature, a structure whose main goal was the establishment of
> hegemonic academic traditions in media art history.
>
> This, in my opinion, shows the frission between the traditional and New
> Media orders; between Cambridge Press and Wikipedia, between October and
> the Blogosphere.  While I am not a cultural anarchist (I have some
> streaks of old-boy hegemon in myself as well), I also feel that the
> social contract promised by net.discourse, and New Media culture (the
> force driving BNMI, as well as the conference itself) was somehow
> compromised by this event. However, I also think that this is very
> useful to make this visible as well, so that more balance between the
> academic hegemony and the intellectual grass-roots can be suggested for
> the next conference.
>
> The other issue that I want to make most clear has to do with a question
> asked me by Roger Molina this year at ISEA. He asked me what the biggest
> issue in New Media and academia, Art/Sci, etc was today.  My reply is
> that intellectualism worldwide is in crisis, and that the highest ranks
> of thinkers, politician, and society have a profound disconnect with
> what Postman called "Public Scholarship".  That is, while the best
> scholars seem to be creating work of increasing density (and some,
> acuity), they are becoming increasingly divorced from the public, and
> therefore, we wonder why there are anti-intellectual feelings within
> Western culture, in Europe, Australia and North America?  Was it Panrose
> or Feynmann who said that no concept is so complex that the gist of it
> cannot be communicated to a college freshman?   The gulf between high
> and mass cultures are widening at increasing paces, and both may suffer
> without the like desire for increased understanding.
>
> Therefore, I feel the following:  I believe that in places like Refresh,
> it is necessary to highlight senior, mid-career, junior, even student
> and independent work equally to match the vision of the culture that
> spawned it.  Secondly, I also feel that it is incumbent upon people like
> the Graus, Naranjans, Molinas, Weibels, Shaws, Diamonds, Kacs, Ascotts,
> Scotts, and so on to take time to engage with the rank and file public
> to create desire in mass culture for the topics for which they feel so
> passionately.
>
> However, I also feel that this may not be a popular stance, but if
> technological culture is to flourish, and if we are to flourish as a
> species, the intelligentsia cannot immure themselves within their
> institutions while mass culture walks away into the dark Poe-esque
> stratified masque of mindless entertainment, capital domination, and
> increasing ignorance and poverty in the underserved.
>
> This may seem like an extremely exaggerated indictment, but my strident
> tone is merely a sharp but respectful challenge to consider the culture
> which we as technologists have created, and the unfulfilled promise that
> remains (and may never be fulfilled, but I wish to challenge us to do as
> much as we can).
>
> However, I return to my brief reflection on Refresh!, and respectfully
> apologize for my invective.
>
> Therefore, given Christiane Paul's more detailed description of the
> event, I would like to offer my bullet points of Refresh!.
>
> Overall, most of the content in the main area was what I would expect
> for featured panels at an ISEA conference, and featured almost all of
> the same faces that would appear at one as well.  Generally high
> quality, with all the leading names in the field - check. There were
> voices who spoke about the topics that they have since the 1990's in
> nearly the same way (I feel I could have called up a taped lecture from
> these speakers), and there were some very bright spots, like the
> Cubitt/Kahn/Sanborn panel on video (Sanborn on Hollis Frampton), sound
> (Kahn), and Projection/representation (Cubitt).  Another main stage high
> point was the bell curve-shaped discourse between Christiane Paul, Peter
> Weibel, and Jon Ippolito that took the moderate, establishment, and
> radical viewpoints in regards to collection and curation.
>
> Probably one of the most criticized events behind the scenes was the
> evening's keynote lecture by Arnheim Fellow SARAT MAHARAJ, which went
> for nearly 2-1/2 hours and was so discursively opaque that few got the
> gist of the lecture, by the end of it, even wanted to.   At least I was
> heartened that the spirit of Hans Christian Andersen had not faded from
> the cultural zeitgeist.  I met him afterward, and was a lovely person,
> but I feel that his lecture did not have the desired effect, for which I
> was saddened.
>
> However, I feel that the provocation/interest that I had in the material
> seemed inversely proportional to the size of the room.  For example, as
> opposed to the rather conservative academic discursive approaches and
> tired colonial/multicultural theoretical models popular in the 90's and
> the 'stars' continually placing their agendas in the Q&A sessions in the
> main stage, the side room was far more lively.  Clas Pias' "Zombies of
> the Revolution" was a stroke of genius, Simon Penny is always a joy to
> listen to, Jeremy Turner, et al's piece on Western Front and Slow Scan
> TV actually made me a convert and caused me to resurrect the technology
> in my work (a tremendous feat, IMO), Tribe's talk on Open Source, and
> Fred Turner's work in 60's cybernetic art were also highly engaging.
>
> And honestly, where I had some of the most stimulating conversation was
> in the Poster Session, with a marvelous panoply of approaches and
> topics, including literary takes from Frost and Matuck, Gulan's Istanbul
> Web Biennial, Nappi's imaging research - I wanted to stay for about
> three more hours.
>
>
> Of course, Sara Cook and Steve Dietz did a great job with "The Medium
> Formerly Called New Media", which was a fine retrospective of BNMI
> projects, especially Naimark's "See Banff", which I was thrilled to see.
> I think (although unlike Christiane, I did not get the t-shirt [I think
> they were out of my size by the time]), like most concepts, the
> contextualization of the works set the show apart, and I have to
> congratulate them for this.  In my mind, it further asked the question,
> "New Media is here.  Now what?", which at this venue is exactly the
> question that needed to be posed.
>
> Therefore, while I feel that Refresh! is, short of the Walker Art
> Center's "Sins of Change" event in 1998, one of the most important
> summits to happen in media art discourse, I also feel that it missed
> opportunities for giving voice to those on all levels who built that
> culture, both the history makers and the history constructors, as well
> as the architects of future history as well.  It is my hope that this
> year's event in Berlin will serve to address some of those concerns and
> fulfill some of the hopes of the emergent New Media culture that has
> been emerging for the last 25 years.
>
> Thank you for your time.
>
>
> Patrick Lichty
> - Interactive Arts & Media
>   Columbia College, Chicago
> - Editor-In-Chief
>   Intelligent Agent Magazine
> http://www.intelligentagent.com
> 225 288 5813
> [log in to unmask]
>
> "It is better to die on your feet
> than to live on your knees."
>
>

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