Dear CRUMB list members
As the UK frantically tries to get some work finished before the impending double Bank Holiday weekend (Easter+Royal Wedding+May Day) I write with an important update:
As you'll know many of us in the media arts / digital arts sector here in England were surprised that so many small arts organisations who have been active within the field of digital lost their funding in the recent Arts Council England "National Portfolio" decisions. A group of curators, artists and organisations met together in London on 11 April to discuss how we could respond to this turn of events in a positive fashion. The meeting was very fruitful, and very upbeat, and as a result of the conversations that took place, an open letter was drafted collaboratively.
The open letter, which addresses how we, as a sector, can raise the profile of digitally-engaged artistic practice is online here: http://www.coda2coda.net/
I'm hoping that as international curators and practitioners you'll be keen to read it, and if you're in broad agreement with the sentiments outlined in the letter, to sign it. (the website will send you an email to confirm your signature, so check your junk folder if you don't receive it).
As one of the writers who took a first stab at collating information for the letter, I think the positive thing is that we perhaps still have a chance to change how the upcoming 'digital innovation fund' might be distributed, and to query how creative practice sits within a digital economy. We hope that the letter is useful in other contexts as well, not just in relationship to the UK specific situation (we applaud much of the research and support the Arts Council has provided and will continue to provide through other initiatives alongside the 'portfolio').
I'll be in Oslo for May Day and participating in a discussion day about the future of the lab and media art funding in Europe - if you have particular points you'd like me to raise in the discussion there, I am happy to oblige.
And meantime, we've had a great day reviewing the paper proposals for Rewire, the Media Art Histories conference taking place in Liverpool in September, and I'm pleased to say there are good papers which present histories of exhibitions and media art organisations and festivals... so we have much to look forward to in terms of knowledge sharing about all this field has built.
On 5 Apr 2011, at 16:05, Gere, Charlie wrote:
> Having been, shamefully, rather silent for much of this discussion, I
> would like to propose some thoughts about the resistance to the digital
> that seems to be part of ACE's process of deciding who should get
> I think Pauline got it absolutely right when she pointed out how the
> digital is regarded as nothing more than
> <a new set of distribution and delivery mechanism>
> and how, as far as ACE is concerned
> <digital can now confidently be assumed to exist as a set of processes
> internal to organisations (who should have the expertise to develop a
> digital strategy, be that via Marketing or elsewhere), *and* that this
> more self-reflexive (and, I'd argue, historically sensitive) conception
> of it, can make way for a normalisation and integration of 'digital'
> tout court, across the cultural landscape - be that in and through
> e-commerce, geo-location and 'expanded reality', or audience
> development, or whatever>.
> Pauline perfectly captures the continued belief in the idea of the
> 'media', in other words that the technologies and systems that are used
> to convey information are nothing but, or should be nothing but
> transparent conduits for that information. They are in the middle,
> 'media', between the source of that information and the recipient. This
> is at the core of the idea of media itself, and remains a central
> understanding of its meaning.
> Allied to this is a disavowal of technicity, or in other words a refusal
> to acknowledge the constitutive role played by technologies in the
> artefactuality of facts and information.
> This is made more complex in the case of the digital in that it is not
> one medium/practice/area among others, but the increasingly invisible
> substrate of almost of all other media.
> It is perhaps only those who are, in Pauline's words 'more
> self-reflexive' and 'historically sensitive', who are in a position to
> understand that our media are not actually simply media, but complex
> artefacts, that, in Friedrich Kittler's words, 'determine our
> In a situation where the digital is frequently touted as a kind of magic
> wand that will solve any number of social and cultural problems, it is
> easy to see why such self-reflexive, historically-sensitive thinking may
> not be popular.
> Such thinking above all does not offer the kind of big society-friendly,
> impact-sensitive solutions that ACE need to be seen funding. It rather
> involves thinking critically and possibly antagonistically about our
> wholesale embrace of new media and the digital. Perhaps it's not
> surprising that the organisations that engage in such thinking are not
> being funded