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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  October 2013

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING October 2013

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Subject:

empyre

From:

Melinda Rackham <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Melinda Rackham <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 13 Oct 2013 18:36:47 +1030

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Reply

Reply

Hey Charlotte and all-

apologies if you've received this twice, 

thanks for contacting me - its like a school reunion at Crumb this month!
I've been offline for a while writing a memoir for print publication and revelling in the solidity of the novel as a container for intensity after being in endlessly variable ether worlds for almost 20 years. 

but to your question--  a brief history of empyre..

-empyre- mailing list sprang into being in January 2002, as part of my PhD research at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Sydney. It was and still is  an online forum which regularly invites guest artists, theorists, curators, producers or administrators from the Australia/Pacific and International media arts field to discuss their projects, publications, pet theories and productions. I intended to get away from the US/Euro axis of knowledge,  and focus on media art issues in depth, without necessarily being academically referenced, or concerned with delineating areas of practice. Im really delighted that its still running and has expanded with each new facilitation teams. Its like a child growing up- I can still see its baby features, but it has matured,  filled out, chiselled off some edges  and explored new pathways. My initial intent has been modified over time, and I don't particularly see it as a space I can comfortably speak in nowdays as my creative practice has changed quiet significantly.

The list had a specific format for a number of reasons. Over the years I had been getting frustrated with the low ratio of signal to noise on other lists, and seeing lists like Syndicate be torn apart by the constant revision of the social structure of the list - i.e. discussions over what was appropriate in mailing list etiquette in terms of announcements and postings.  I also initially wanted a discussion space which would explore topics specific to 3d spaces on the web as that was the area I was researching in my phd.  I had been working in that area of practice for a few years and discovered a vibrant global community discussing the technical issues associated with web3d, but no avenues for the more aesthetic or theoretical discussions of networked dimensional environments. And most importantly, I saw other lists where the culture of the Internet and impacts of technology were being discussed by writers and academics, but not by artists who were making work in the field who often felt intimidated and ignored as not being theoretical enough. I think this artist voice may have been a little lost again. 

–empyre– aimed to fill those gaps. How it works is that each invited guest speaker has the list for period of time to discuss different aspects of their media practice, or their books or their sites, or performances, or curated shows. Offline i thought –empyre- would equate to a casual lecture series, or a resident workshop program.  It aimed to have diversity in its scheduled topics, and to be flexible enough to adapt to current events, which it has continued to do.  It has collaborated with many exhibitions, events and institutions including ACMI, ISEA and Documenta producing readers, polemics, texts and to my surprise one day a thick rainbow covered -empyre- book turned up in my Post Box. Unbeknown to me a full months discussion on Archiving, had been archived unedited, printed and distributed by a gallery in Texas. 

When I launched –empyre- it was an experiment, I thought it would be a cosy intimate group of around 50 people max, I hear its now 1500, and I wonder if thats a maximum number for participation? Yes list etiquette issues were always present… from its inception I have had strong guidelines as to what are appropriate postings, for example "-empyre- is not a chat space, nor an announcement or self-promotion list, nor online performance space. It’s for topic discussion only", and I stated up front that I would unsubscribe anyone who consistently disregarded those guidelines.  And I did. And I was threatened and harassed at one point.

Like some other list instigators I had a separate persona (subscriber account)  or two whom I employed to ask simple questions, interrogate anonymously, occasionally ask the hard and unpopular questions - so that my personal position was in the background in a facilitation mode rather than having a personality presence - at least that was the idea.. 

Re sending some posts that were significant ? thats an impossible task as every month brought new insights and perspectives - and importantly what is written on the list is, as I aways say, only the tip of the iceberg of the discussions generated by it, which reverberate and ripple through academic and creative communities.

xx 
Melinda 



On 06/10/2013, at 10:20 PM, Charlotte Frost wrote:

> Finally empyre enters the mix!
> 
> I'm hosting a discussion on the history of lists and all things online art
> community on the New Media Curating list:
> https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=new-media-curating;262b7d94.
> 1310
> 
> 
> I'm trying to keep it low maintenance for people to take part so there are
> discussions on and off list, on Facebook, Twitter etc and if someone
> doesn't have the time to subscribe, I just post their responses/thoughts
> (with their permission) to the list itself.
> 
> I'd love if you had time to offer a brief history of empyre and pick up
> some of the points below or in the rest of the discussion. And if there
> are posts from empyre that you can forward that illustrate a typical
> discussion or even one that was particularly significant, that would be
> great!!! I'm trying to use the list to create a bit of an archive of list
> history - especially as everyone has had a bit of time to digest some of
> the early list antics.
> 
> All the best,
> 
> Charlotte

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