#072 Jun/Jul 1999


#72 June- July 1999

* Editorial * ISEA News * Contact Zone Colloquium *
* Feature Articles  * Event Reports *

*Une version francaise est disponible. Contactez le secretariat pour l'obtenir*

The Board meeting in early March was my last trip to Montreal. Compared to
the snow of winter, Montreal spring in May this trip showed a completely
different city - festive and alive with people, music, culture, activity in
the streets.

The ISEA agenda began, however, before my arrival in Montreal. The Board
was already in its bimonthly "virtual board meeting" organized on the
net. We were trying to iron out decisions on membership, branch
offices/student chapters, ISEA2000, a move to new offices, and a search for
a new Director. What is clear is that ISEA operates on a complex dynamic:
balancing the identity of the Symposium with the human-network of the
InterSociety, validating the headquarter's Montreal presence through local
activities while maintaining an international profile, and creating an
effective work dynamic between the dispersed nomadic board and the local

As an example of this: ISEA presented a colloqium on April 23 as part of
its ongoing special project, Virtual Africa, this time in conjunction with
the Vues d'Afrique Festival in Montreal. The project is an example of how
ISEA fulfills it cultural diversity mandate and creates activities that are
both international and local in scope. Though I am not directly involved in
the project, I have a personal aside to give. One of the speakers, the
Algerian/French musician Camel Zekri, is an old acquaintance and colleague.
I didn't know he was part of the colloqium panel, but before my arrival in
Montreal, I ran into Camel at the Musique Action festival in Vandoeuvre
France. After the initial surprise, we got to talking about ISEA. To Camel,
this was a new world, however one that he knew I was very much involved
with. However he didn't know I was on the board of ISEA. I was equally
surprised in the opposite way. Although I had played numerous concerts with
Camel, including network concerts, I had not expected to see him in this
milieu. It was rather nice that this was the result of coincidence rather
than cronyism. I was enthusiastic about the cultural and musical viewpoints
that an artist like Camel could bring to ISEA. Camel was excited to
discover that an organization like ISEA existed that could possibly help to
structure his projects between France and Africa. This is how ISEA should
operate - as a human network, broadening horizons for artists, bringing our
field to new places, and even to help us re-meet those we know in new ways.

Another example of ISEA's complex dynamic in action awaited my arrival  in
Montreal. In my computer, the Board was still in virtual meeting in email,
weighing the financial costs against potential benefits of a move to new
offices. In the physical reality of Montreal, the office was already in
boxes and the move was taking place. The new office is in the Ex-Centris
complex (http://www.ex-centris.com) - a brand new building conceived,
financed, and built by Daniel Langlois, founder of SoftImage. The building
is an imposing granite edifice along the rue St. Laurent, the axis that
divides English-speaking west Montreal from French-speaking east, the
heartbeat of culture and nightlife in the city.

The office is modern, fully furnished, quite deluxe for ISEA. I'm not sure
we need the executive furniture provided as part of the high rent, but we
benefit greatly from a 1Mbps internet connection, and this alone brings an
improvement in our working style. The staff are motivated by the new
surroundings, finding new context for their work. At the opening cocktail
for Ex-Centris, a counselor at the Ministry of International Relations
approached ISEA Special Projects head Eva Quintas to say that being in
Ex-Centris helps to validate ISEA's cause at the government's various

The overall impression of ISEA in its new office is positive. This being
said, the building itself has the problems that always accompany any
project founded on the sole vision of one person. Daniel Langlois is
Quebec's first technology-millionaire, and is a generous supporter of the
arts. Ex-Centris is Langlois' castle, and the structure and high security
belies this. There is gratuitous use of technology that goes against some
of our visions of the democratizing humanizing force that technology should
represent. Time will tell how successful Ex-Centris will be in mobilizing a
technology culture in Montreal, and in creating an international position
for itself.

The opening gala was a big affair as things go in this realm. Langlois
borrowed not only the security system from SoftImage - he also knows how to
throw industry parties for the likes of Siggraph, and this was in full
display opening night. There was some mumbling among my artist friends in
attendance about how jet-set it was, but this is where Montreal is forever
modest and friendly - by Parisian or Tokyo standards, it was still low key
and pleasant. The Belgian performance troupe, Urban Sax marched through the
crowd and performed as Langlois watched alone from a high

The opening week continued with an impressive screening of films and four
evenings of musical concerts programmed by ISEA's own Alain Mongeau
(director of new media for the FCMM festival with offices also in the
complex). All events were free and sold out, as the annual sidewalk fair on
St. Laurent was in full swing. After all the fun had ended, one realized
that we had just inaugurated the opening of a new media complex by
watching old Godard films, seeing a performance art group from 20 years
ago, and listening to concerts of music. It is clear that the technology
art field is still finding its voice and just starting to create its best
works. But it also becomes clear that even a new center like this is still
only equipped to a limited extent, both structurally and in content
programming, to bring about the evolution it is meant to facilitate.

ISEA can benefit enormously from being in its new environment. But it must
establish and execute its own sovereign agenda if it is not to be co-opted
by the entertainment industry vision imposed on the complex. At the same
time the new offices give ISEA  a kind of credibility in the eyes of the
public and the local government, there is a danger of simply disappearing
into the megacenter. Case in point: a security oversight made ISEA's name
not appear on the main list at the reception. I was left stranded, not
allowed to enter the offices of an organization where I serve on the Board.
As much as it is a new media center, there are no production facilities,
and no artists' spaces that ISEA can benefit from or help to administer.

This is the state of ISEA as it starts a new chapter. The new office is the
container out of which we will operate. A new director will hopefully bring
renewed energy and visions. The board represents the whole history of ISEA,
and will provide a continuity. The staff is dynamic and enthusiastic, eager
to be the conduit of action that ties these elements together. The last
piece in the puzzle is you, the membership body. After all, ISEA is a
member organization. Your involvement as members is not only welcome, it
is vital to our existence. ISEA was there in the beginning to help
establish technology arts within the western European traditions. Now as
the field grows beyond these privelaged origins, ISEA itself will evolve to
fulfill the needs of artists and organizers coming from a wider base of
practices, cultures, and geographies. Here then, a call to action to
contact us and communicate amongst all of us, who we are, what we can do,
and what we envision.

Atau Tanaka


As promised in Newsletters past, ISEA has finally arrived at the brand new
Ex-Centris Complex (see Atau Tanaka's editorial above). More information
about Ex-Centris can be found at <http://www.ex-centris.com>. To see
photographs from the grand opening party on June 1, 1999, consult the Flash
News section of the ISEA website <http://www.isea.qc.ca/inl/newsletter>
in the coming days.

The new ISEA HQ address:

ISEA/Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts
Complexe Ex-Centris
3530 boul. St-Laurent, #305
Montreal, Quebec H2X 2V1

tel: +1.514.847.8912
fax: +1.514.847.8834

The website and email addresses remain the same.

As mentioned in the last newsletter, ISEA is launching Cartographies: The
General Assembly on New Media Art, a pan-Canadian event with international
guests which will take place at the newly opened Ex-Centris Complex October
12-14, 1999. This event occurs in partnership with and just before the
International Festival of New Cinema and New Media of Montreal. A call for
proposals was sent to 250 groups and artist-centres working in media art
across Canada, and a listserv was created to get the debates and
discussions going. If you would like to subscribe, send a message to

The first day of the General Assembly, Zone Zero: New Media Before and
Beyond, will feature conferences and testimonies on the emergence of new
media art in Canada and in other locations around the world. Presentations
will be made by key players and institutions, as well as by leading artists
and projects. The second day, Tactical Zones, will explore how artists and
art centres are interfacing present structures with  the challenges of
digital culture. Presentations from Canadian artist-run centres will be
paralleled with other international models. The final day, Mobile Zones,
will open new territories to confront and redefine in the field of new
media art. Emerging artists, practices, and languages will be represented.

If there are specific issues you feel are vital to drawing up a new media
cartography in Canada, please send us your comments! <isea@isea.qc.ca>

Since we are currently expanding the content of the ISEA Newsletter, we
would like to extend an invitation to members who are interested in writing
articles or editorials on an area of art and technology that you feel
passionate about or which is in your field of expertise. We are also very
open to any members who would like to take on a special edition of the
newsletter as guest editor. Editorials should be approximately 500 words.
Articles should be between 1000 and 1500 words. If there are important
topics you feel should be covered, please do not hesitate to let us know.
We would also be delighted to accept reviews of new media art events,
books, CD-ROMs, and exhibitions. Reviews should be between 500 and 750
words. Of course, you are also most welcome to send information on your own
news and events, which we will publish in a special section of the
Newsletter. The recent of addition of the Flash News page on the ISEA
website <http://www.isea.qc.ca/inl/newsletter> will permit us to
integrate more multimedia material, so photos and sound clips from your
events can be showcased. And don't forget about your member portfolio page

The ISEA Board has just approved a reduction in membership fees. The new
fees will be as follows:

Individual: $50 CDN ($35 US)
Student: $30 CDN ($22 US)
Institutions (includes 3 memberships): $200 CDN ($142 US)

Members who have just joined ISEA will be advised of a possible extension
of their membership as compensation. For any questions relating to ISEA
membership, please contact Natalie Melancon at the usual email address: <

We would like to invite all members to an ISEA meeting taking place during
Siggraph99 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, in Los Angeles, California
August 8-13, 1999. This year's meeting will be hosted by ISEA Board members
Cynthia Beth Rubin and Kathy Rae Huffman, and will include the
participation of several other "sister" groups. An announcement of the
precise date, time, and location will be published in the Siggraph
Programme. HQ will also send an announcement by email as Siggraph
approaches. More information on Siggraph 99 can be found at: <
http://www.siggraph.org/s99> Hope to see you there!


Report on the Contact Zone Symposium
Montreal, 23 April, 1999
By Sylvie Fortin, event curator


It is important, first of all, to contextualize this conference. Contact
Zone is the second part of a two-fold project. The conference follows in
the wake of DAKAR WEB (see p. 3 of ISEA Newsletter #71) by enlarging the
theoretical parametres and presenting the practices of African artists who
either already use digital technologies in their work, or integrate them in
their repertoire of materials and modes of production.

Bringing together eight international conference participants who maintain
a diversity of relations with Africa, the goal of the Contact Zone
conference was to create a site of exchange and discussion around the
impact of digital and electronic technologies on the creation of African
artwork. It is important here to reiterate that the objectives of the
conference were rooted firmly in the field of contemporary art and its
diverse forms of expression. It is also important to reiterate that the the
expression "Contact Zone" signifies a space or a zone for the meeting of
various discourses and practices where it is possible to produce a new kind
of discourse. It does not, therefore, imply merely a superficial adaptation
to one proposition or another, but a profound reformulation of those

The conference participants were selected on the basis of complementarity
and equilibrium. Certainly, the development of the conference was subject
to a few unfortunate cancellations. The discussions would have therefore
followed a different course, related to differences in point of view,
fields of interest and expertise. I nevertheless have the pleasure to
report that the conference surpassed its expectations in organizational and
artistic terms. For even if all of the participants approached the subject
at hand through the prism of their own practices and opinions, this
undertaking revealed a diversity of ways of employing and conceptualizing
new technologies. This exchange was, in my opinion, the principle and
essential contribution of the conference.

From the "bricolage" of Fatimah Tuggar -a work process which testifies to
what Ioan Davies calls "the culture of the everyday"(1)- which is the
translation of a political position shared by numerous "children of
independence", to the multidisciplinary infiltration of the media by Iké
Udé, and the "Afrofuturism" delineated by Franklin Sirmans, we see just an
example of the number of encounters between contemporary African art
practices and the recourse to digital technologies. Although sometimes so
divergent that the points of intersection were difficult to detect, the
participants as much as the public nevertheless had access to a
multiplicity of view points testifying, in my opinion, to the vitality of
contemporary African art practices, and to the multiple ways of
conceptualizing and employing new technologies variously as a tool, a
means, a material. Therein lies the pertinence of the colloquium.

The first session, skillfully moderated by Salem Mekuria who is an
Ethiopian film-maker and professor currently living in Boston, USA, was
able to mark out, in broad terms, the theoretical and philosophical stakes
of the debate. The presentation of New York-based African-American critic
and curator Franklin Sirmans delineated a historical and conceptual field
from which to discuss the contemporary practices of artists of the African
Diaspora living the United States and Europe. His discussion of
"Afrofuturism" presented technology in its broader sense, as a means, which
is important and strategic since Africa is still often pigeon-holed in the
"primitivism" of the collective Western imagination.

The presentation of Iba Ndiaye Djadji, author and critic from Dakar,
Senegal, testified to the prospective and realistic contributions which new
technologies can make. Anchored in a discussion of an artistic
"African-ness", and more specifically in terms of the visual arts, Djadji
chose to position his presentation as a theoretical and philosophical
exposition on the impact which digital technologies could have in the
future. This was a justified point of view given that the influence these
technologies have had on the Dakar art scene in Senegal is still quite

Finally, Camel Zekri, an Algerian musician living in Paris, outlined the
ideological and artistic parametres of the Festival de l'eau ("The Festival
of Water"). Modelled on a traditional and interdisciplinary cultural
practice (the Diwan ceremony into which Zekri was initiated during his
childhood in Algeria), the first edition of the Festival de l'eau in 1996
brought about an exchange between international artists and villagers along
the banks of the Niger river. With interdisciplinarity and improvisation as
the necessary conditions for each encounter -a meeting of equals determined
by mutually-defined parametres- the Festival de l'eau in its second
occurrence, slated for January 2000 in Burkina Faso, will have an important
technological dimension.

The second session, moderated by Akram Zaatari, a Lebanese videomaker and
founder of the Beirut-based Arab Foundation for the Image, opened up the
floor to African artists having, as is often the case, diverse geographic
ties to the continent of Africa.

Nigerian artist Fatimah Tuggar (who currently lives in New York) launched
this session by presenting her work which combines photography, sculpture
and installation. Through her practice, Tuggar proposes a new paradigm of
cohabitation: of images, objects and traditional African and Western
technologies Her works exist, therefore, through a bricolage to which new
technologies are subjected -as much in the production as in the
presentation of the work.

Bili Bidjocka, a Cameroonian artist living between Paris, Brussels, and New
York, created a situation completely in line with the content of his
presentation of a passionate discussion. Projecting live images of the
audience, he modestly discussed his own work philosophy and expressed his
own apprehensions regarding new technologies and the rigid definitions of
"Africanité". In so doing, he clearly articulated the principle, which in
his opinion, is fundamental  to the success of an artwork: that of the
Event. His presentation was in fact, one such event: a pause for
interrogation produced by some sort of situation (the encounter before a
canvas/the museum confronted by a presence/a performance such as Bidjocka's

The Nigerian New York-based artist, Iké Udé, chose to present his work
"by-proxy" through the presentation of Lauri Firstenberg, an independent
critic and curator based in New York. Lauri Firstenberg's presentation,
which explored the way in which Udé`s creative practice and images elude
categorization, interrupt legibility, was thus very appropriate. Udé
participates in a session of artist presentations by dispatching a
curator/critic! In his digitally manipulated photographs, Udé articulates a
digital transvestism through which he affects a "queering" of the image and
makes use of  "corporate queer".

What is important to remember about this session, are the different modes
of expression each African artist chose. From the artist talk, to the
performance, and finally, the delegation of a Western representative, we
see the numerous forms of expression deployed in order to activate a
discussion about the impact of digital technologies on contemporary
production. It is important to recall here that the term "digital" suggests
a multiplicity of technologies and practices which pluralize and question
our ways of defining a medium on the basis of format or system of

Finally, it seems crucial to me to welcome a multiplicity of perspectives,
beyond the usual African/Western dichotomy which does nothing but repeat
the old colonial models. Since Africa is the most racially, linguistically,
religiously, and culturally diverse continent, it is just as criss-crossed
with complex relations as the West. The task at hand is, therefore, a
matter of inscribing Africa in a much larger discussion where participants
come from different cultures. Emerging thought from contexts as diverse as
the Middle East, Latin America or the urban zones of America and Europe can
have a lot to offer and a lot to learn from their extensive exchanges with

In the wake of this conference, it is important to create a platform where
other discussions can be pursued, just as it is important to follow-up on
training and networking activities. To this end, a listserv discussion
group, to which you will be invited, with be launched soon. Events such as
ISEA 2000 in Paris and the Francophone Games (les Jeux de la Francophonie)
in Ottawa/Hull in 2000 could also be opportunities to for encounters and
further dialogue.

1. Ioan Davies. "Negotiating African Culture: Toward a Decolonization of
the Fetish," The Cultures of Globalism, eds. Frederic Jameson and Masao
Miyoski, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1998. p. 139.


By James Wallbank

The Lowtech Manifesto was first presented at The Next Five Minutes
conference in Amsterdam, Spring 1999.

"Lowtech" means technology that is cheap or free.

Technology moves on so fast that right now we can recover low-end Pentiums
and fast Macintoshes from the trash. Lowtech upgrades every year. But we
don't have to pay for it.

Lowtech includes hardware and software. We advocate freeware and low cost
software. We particularly advocate the use of low cost, open source
operating systems.

High technology doesn't mean high creativity. In fact sometimes the
restrictions of a medium lead to the most creative solutions.

Independence is important. Don't lock your creativity into a box you don't

Access is important. Don't lock your creativity into a format we can't see.

High tech artworks market new PCs. Even if they aren't meant to. Artworks
that make use of new, expensive technology can't avoid being, in part,
sales demonstratons. Part of the message of an online video stream,
whatever its content, is "Hey, isn't it time for an upgrade?".

Communicators concerned with the meaning and context of what they do may
want to avoid this.

We're sceptical about the consumerist frenzy associated with information
technology. Lowtech questions the two year upgrade cycle.

A lot of people say that new media is revolutionary. They say the net is
anarchic and subversive. But how subverive can you be in an exclusive club,
which has a $1000 entrance fee?

Lowtech counters exclusivity. Lowtech is street level technology.

Text is great for communicating. Write down what you want say. Make it
clear and simple and non-exclusive.

Email is still the "killer app". Fast, low cost global communication for
the ordinary citizen is genuinely something new.

HTML is good for lots more than web pages. Now you can author all sorts of
graphical stuff with a plain text editor.

Use the web for plain text and images. It's simple and cheap and quick and
it works.


James Wallbank is founder and coordinator of Redundant Technology
Initiative <http://www.lowtech.org> a group of artists in the UK who
create using zero-cost computers.

A Collective Memory

VinylVideo is a fake archeological relic of media technology, a revision
in the record of technological progress that bridges a gap in the history
of consumer technology while it provides a unique new viewing experience in
the medium of video.

In collaboration with Guenter Erhart, Martin Diamant and Best Before, the
Austrian artist Gebhard Sengueller has created a technique for storing and
reproducing conventional video signals (moving image and synchronized
sound) onto conventional analog long-playing vinyl (LP) records with a
running time of approximately 15 minutes per side.  With the VinylVideo
homekit, a "black box" that compresses the data and transforms the signal
into a video signal, the VinylVideo™ picture disk can be played back on a
standard turntable with an ordinary diamond needle and a conventional black
and white television set.  The black and white images of the VinylVideo
disks appearing on the monitor are of reduced resolution and low frame rate
while the synchronized sound is reproduced in almost its original quality.
The resulting drastically reduced picture quality creates a new perceptual
mode of accessing video works, creating a time-bound medium that both
references the earliest television pictures at the same time as its uncanny
combination of the familiar and the novel summons up fantasies of other
possibilities in the continuum of technological progress.

As a hybrid of different technologies, VinylVideo reveals and connects a
variety of media history alignments, combining art, science and technology,
low- and high-tech and analog and digital elements to create a new vision
(a breaking-open) of the limits of a medium, of consumer technology and of
the artifacts of everyday life that quotes the contemporary renaissance of
vinyl as the same time that it questions the expiration of technologies.

The historical background for this fictional video disk technology is the
discontinuity in the development of electronic film technology.  While the
electronic transmission of images has been possible since the late 1920s .
(FOOTNOTE: As early as 1927 John Loggie Baird invented an apparatus called
"Phonovision"that recorded moving images on the wax plates that were then
used for sound recording.  He was unable, however, to play these recorded
images.  References to the age of wax plates may perhaps be found even
today in names like "nightmares on wax"and "mo wax". The reproduction of
such stored images only became possible with the invention of the video
recorder in 1958 and recording for private use only became available in the
1980s with the mass introduction of the VCR).

Playing the VinylVideo picture disk on a regular audio turntable results
in an audio output that reflects the constantly changing visual content of
the recorded video. VinylVideo thus encompasses contemporary forms of
DJ-ing while at the same time making real video "scratching" available to
VJs. The simple placement of the needle on different points on the record
makes possible a random access manipulation of the time axis. The picture
can also be manipulated by changing the speed at which the record is

VinylVideo is an ongoing collaborative project. International artists are
invited to produce works for the VinylVideo record edition. The artists
engage and reflect on the specific qualities of the new medium using a
variety of different artistic approaches. Consequently, while the resulting
VinylVideo record edition has in common a curiosity about and a
willingness to explore the possibilities of the medium, artists have chosen
to engage aspects of the technology as varied as the interconnection
between sound and image, the manipulation of the time axis, the use of
VinylVideo as a VJ tool and the connection to the ASCII code.

The VinylVideo record edition includes works by Heimo Zobernig, Oliver
Hangl, Annika Eriksson, Monoscope, Harald Hund, Visomat Laboric / Gereon
Schmitz, Cut-up/Geert Mul, Vuk Cosic / Alexej Shulgin, Andrea Lumplecker,
Peter Haas, JODI, Lampalzer-Oppermann and Olia Lialina.

For additional information please access <http://www.vinylvideo.com> or

Vinyl Video is an Austrian cooperation between: Gebhard Sengmueller, an
artist working with new technologies, Guenther Erhart, an information
scientist, Martin Diamant, and experimental physicist, and Best Before, a
curatorial collaboration by Rike Frank and Stefan Gyoengoesi.


Osnabrueck, Germany
May 5-9, 1999


Some Reflections on the EMAF Exhibition in the Art Gallery in the
Review by Michael Boyce

At the EMAF exhibition, the Art Gallery in the Dominikanerkirche was
devoted to five installations:

System Maintenance by Perry Haberman
Time Machine or The Present is an Accident Between Past and Future by
Egbert Mittelstadt
200 Bells - Hyperscratch Vers. 9 by Haruo Ishii
Scanner ++ by Joachin Blank and Karl-Heinz Jeron
VinylVideo by BestBefore/Gerhard Sengmuller
Flies by Michael van der Leest

All of these pieces were interactive in both conceptual and tactile ways
(with the exception of the Flies). They lent themselves to a coordination
of both physical and mental engagements, and further, consigned nexus
relationships between virtual and actual, organic and mechanical as well as
abstract and concrete ideas and positions. This all proffered a broader
understanding of technology in general and media technology more
specifically -registering it with a sense of an aesthetic and philosophic

The pieces could variously be received as installations, as games or even
as experiments. Here, for the sake of brevity, are (just) two examples.

System Maintenance, presented itself as a design installation to show three
different aspects of furniture arrangement that at the same time reflected
different perceptual engagements and tactile challenges.

Furniture was available to be arranged on a platform in three different ways:

1) as large pieces of "real" furniture on a circular platform which could,
with some push, pull, lift and shove, be moved around;
2) as plastic miniatures upon a smaller platform which could with
considerably less effort be likewise moved around;
3) as graphic renderings in a 3D perspective upon a computer monitor which
could be moved about by manipulating a joystick. This method, of course,
required the least amount of physical strength but demanded a kind of eye
to hand coordination which took a little longer to facilitate than the
miniatures did.

There was a camera trained upon the miniatures that read their image upon
the computer screen. Thus there were two sets of simultaneous images being
displayed. One, the camera feed was static (until the miniatures were
moved), and two, the computer graphics where mobile and could, if you
liked, be perfectly superimposed with the camera feed.

Now you could understand what their sense of correspondence was to be based
upon in whichever way you liked. You could for instance look at any one as
a simulation or quote of the other. But there was no explicit indication of
this. Rather, there was an invitation to somehow coordinate - as in a game
- the placement of the furniture at each station so that they matched. It
didn't matter which you arranged first, so there wasn't any master layout
that the others were to be replicas of. As a result, a range of different
perspectives and skills where highlighted instead of an order of real to
virtual verisimilitude.

Instead of a utopia or distopia of replacement, there was a coincident play
that revealed at each station a variable relationship between (an) abstract
idea and (its or a) concrete execution.

A certain displacement seemed to occur then, as could be said by way of a
critical tangent, of contemporary assumptions about virtual orders and
their lack of tactile quality; particularly with respect to a computer
management of such and so-called a virtual "space". To wit, working with
computers is not a non-tactile experience. Nor is it without its own
management (or system, if you prefer) for realising an idea or manifesting
intent. It (still) has, in other words, a relationship with theory and
practice. Or in contemporary parlance, it works with/in its own dialectic
of virtual and actual.

The festival in general, it seemed, was taking to heart the more or less
strict (if not common vernacular) sense of media as a middle quality or
degree -a species of conduit or conductor (which should be read with some
sense of impersonal agency). There was, actually, no direct address of
agency. Rather, there was instead a consequential formal complicity between
the user, the object, and to some extent (although not so much) the
producer-engineer-artist. A complicity, then, to the very idea of - and
possibly an investment in - the engagement with a system and its management.

This piece is a neat encapsulation of the general idea.

Likewise, with VinylVideo. Here was an interesting intersection between
old tech objects and new tech ideas. They were married by way of a sell job
which registered itself more as sell then as object. The aesthetic of the
sell and its elements are put into relief because of the home-spun
familiarity and established (user) friendliness of the object itself. It is
an ideological aesthetic of novel technological facility.

The installation is interactive, again, in a variety of ways.

There is a small but comfy couch. An old black and white television set and
an old style record player (with speeds variable 16, 33, 45 and 78 rpm) on
small shelf stand level with the couch. A larger bookshelf with some 12
recordings displayed and stacked. The recordings are vinyl and each has a
individually designed jacket with a recording artist's name, a recording
name and a brief and oblique conceptual rendering of the recordings premise
or interest on the backside. A little further off there is a computer set
up on a column. The screen is set to an online web page advertising the
VinylVideo system with links to specific artists and recordings as well as
a company bio and history of the development of the system -framed as
revolutionary and convenient. Beside it, on another column, is another old
record player (with the same variable speeds) and a pair of headphones.
Here you can listen exclusively to the audio portion of the recording (a
repetition of a sequence of a few different tones). Beside it, on still
another column, is a television monitor playing a testimonial video and an
infomercial about the system. It lasts about 10 minutes and plays on a
continual loop.

The record at the turntable/television station plays back a combination of
murky sound and video. Each track offers a slight variation in the sequence
of video and sound/music. Both sides of the record play. The correspondence
between the poetic descriptions on the back of the record-covers and the
actual VinylVideo seem to be in sync with respect to their being equally
oblique. It is their overall resonance which matters; their atmosphere, if
you will.

Interestingly enough, the only clues to the fancifulness of this
installation lie in the apparent poor quality (measured against a criteria
which by its very second nature belies a complicity to it which can only
after the fact be displaced) of the product, and the comfortable
familiarity of the play-back device, the viewer, the viewing setting and
indeed, (with maybe the exception of the web page) the sell and the medium
of the sell itself. In fact, the very idea of its convenience seems to hark
back to another more naive era (i.e. the fifties), as though it were
describing a household appliance. The contemporary sell on technology is
not levied as convenience so much as facility.

Nevertheless, it registers as a rather amazing thing. Video coming off the
old record and off the old record player. It is a curious conjunction
between old and new which precisely because of its apparent failure to meet
up with current video technology (MPEG, DVD and web-casting, say) draws
into relief the equal if not greater (under certain circumstances) value of
the concept and ideal implication of the system which is communicated as
and by rhetoric. Or, in other words, it is the orientation to technological
advance which is as important or interesting as the actual development. It
registers what you might call the complicit thrill of technological novelty
and evolution. It is the very attempt to make apparent the dream of
progress, even if it is truly a crass expansion of consumption and
entertainment that doesn't even really deliver its promise, which is
exciting and which invites participation. And that joy of participation,
even its disappointment, is the sign of complicity. It is a complicity that
is unheralded and perhaps unknown, yet nevertheless present to such an
extent as to be taken as natural or organic.

All these pieces possess and invite a kind of playfulness that at once
occasions and displaces a philology of media. They are exemplary, also, of
no necessity to re-inscribe the body into technological media. For, it is
apparently participating already. And the meaning of that participation is
no more settled than is the body's own relationship to its own mechanical
operations and organic being. It is also already engaged with and complicit
with a division between its abstractions and its concretizations.

Dr. Michael Boyce is a philosopher, videographer, musician, video editor,
writer and media artist living in Montreal.

Held at the Ciné Lumi%#232re, in the Institut français
London, England
April 15-18, 1999
Contact: Larry Sider ( Epesound@aol.com )

Review by Amanda Aronczyk

This year marked the second (and possibly annual) School of Sound in
London. Promoted as a "unique symposium exploring the art of sound with the
moving image", the School of Sound was a 4-day series of lectures and
discussions, intended for both practitioners and students interested in
working with sound. It was not a hands-on event with workshops and lengthy
discussions of new software developments, but rather an opportunity for
lectures, discussion and theory, intended to inspire. At any given time,
only one lecture would be in session, and the 250 or so conference-goers
would gather in the Ciné Lumi%#232re for the day, with our headsets in tow to
hear simultaneous translations whenever necessary.

The conference was primarily oriented towards people who work in film,
reflected by the composition of the participants: largely film composers,
sound editors and sound designers. Despite this, the conference still held
appeal for those of us in other fields, and as the symposium continued you
were likely to meet an assortment of artists, multimedia producers,
academics, musicians, radio producers and others with related interests.

The symposium began with a presentation of work where sounds can only
conjure images - with radio producer, Piers Plowright. He excerpted several
radio pieces including one that explored the Sufi tale of four blind people
who discern what an elephant is purely by touch, and another somewhat
humorous piece that centered around a visit to an undertaker. His
discussion highlighted the experimental editing and layering explored in
radio productions, and emphasized the narrative capabilities of a purely
sound-based form. The first day also included a presentation by the
Austrian experimental filmmaker, Peter Kubelka, of his works from the late
50s : Adebar (1957), Schwechater (1958) and Arnulf Rainer (1957). Kubelka
discussed his retrospective analysis of these films, having not known
explicitly at the time of making what the concepts were that he was
grappling with, or of the similarities between these films. He remarked on
the time and rhythm of images, contrasted by sound that is not exactly in
sync - films where sound and image grind against one another.

Other highlights included an improvised and entertaining discussion of the
role of the body and live sound in theatre by Simon McBurney, co-founder
and artistic director of the Theatre de Complicite in London; Theorist and
electro-acoustic composer Michel Chion's analysis of changes in sound,
music and image from the advent of the "talkies" to Star Wars and
Bladerunner; and an overview of the work and techniques of Jocelyn Pook,
musician and composer for film, theatre and television, whose work includes
collaborations with DV8 Physical Theatre and O Vertigo, Derek Jarman and
more recently with Stanley Kubrick.

Concerns around multimedia development and sound were addressed on the
final day, by representatives from Electronic Arts / Bullfrog Productions,
as well as John Broomhall from Hasbro Interactive, all of whom develop
soundtracks for video games.  They presented a historical overview of sound
for games, and considerations of the creative potential of sound design for
this interactive, non-linear form. More experimental multimedia projects
were shown by UK-based AudioRom, a cluster of artists-musicians-programmers
and DJs, who demonstrated several of their projects, including a
computer-network music installation called Sound Track, presented at ISEA

The four full-days of lectures were capped with film screenings in the
evenings, which most conference-goers welcomed; having only seen film
excerpts during the days, we were anxious to watch a film in its entirety.
There was a rare screening of Siddeshwari, by film director and cultural
theorist Mani Kaul, as well as Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirrors. Both films were
accompanied by a lecture - the day prior to the screening of Siddeshwari,
Kaul riveted the audience with music and a discussion of his work inspired
by classical Indian music. To compliment the screening of Mirrors, on the
last day there was a videotaped interview with Owe Svensson, known for his
sound work with Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, and Jan Troell, where Svensson
examined the soundtrack to Tarkovsky's last film, The Sacrifice.

The symposium sometimes provided us with a support-group feel , "we work in
sound - and that's ok!", replete with concerns such as the oft heard remark
"and directors never put enough time / money / thought / care into the
sound track !" It is true though, it can get quite lonely and uncertain
spending all of one's time alone in sound studios , so perhaps it is for
the best that we can all gather together for four days of discussion,
networking and support.

Related web sites:

The School of Sound

Film Sound Design & Film Sound Theory

Collection of articles on sound design in Hollywood & mainstream films

AudioRom - sound and multimedia

Amanda Aronczyk is a Montreal-based sound artist.

5 mednarodni Festival racunalniskih umetnosti
Maribor, Slovenia
May 9-14, 1999


Review by Kathy Rae Huffman

MKC presented the 5th International Festival of Computer Art in Maribor,
Slovenia, May 9 - 14, 1999. Located 16 kilometers from Graz, Austria, it is
a city of approximately 160,000 inhabitants who live comfortably and far
from the terrorism of NATO bombings or the political pressure to shelter
Kosovo refugees. Although it was a peaceful location, hints of artistic
reflection on the political situation in the South was apparent during the
week, mostly in the works of young Croatian animation artists, and in the
discussions with Gordana Novakoviæ from Belgrade, but currently living in
exile in London.

 A wide spectrum of events was presented in various locations, and many
media: electronic music, multi-media performance, animated computer
graphics, video, installation, VRML, a symposium, an Internet radio drama
and technoculture. Festival central was in the historic Cultural Center of
Maribor, in galleries that were used during the 17th Century.

 The Maribor festival also scheduled events in nearby Ljubljana, the
capitol city of Slovenia, and in Rijeka, on the coast of Croatia near the
border to Slovenia.  Between May 10 -14, a mobile exhibition was on view on
the city bus of Ljubljana, in a project called Morfej: Neuropolitan Express
- Mobilna galerija. This event started out with a DJ on board, performing a
multimedia installation "I for an Eye".  From May 12 - 21, an exhibition of
Marko Rodosek was on view at the Galerija OK in Rijeka, with examples of
the Maribor Festival posters of the past years and other techno computer
graphics from this "self taught" young artist. The radio opera "Oppera
Teorettikka Internettikka" by Igor Stromajer (in+ima.org) was broadcast via
Real Audio on the opening night of the festival, and it was simulcast on
local Radio MARS (the active student radio station for Maribor University).

 Festival curators Marina Grzinic, Stelarc, and Igor Stromajer selected an
international group of artists, and the topics of discussion. 70 artists
were invited and attended. Many other artists were active remotely.
Grzinic, who organized a Cyberfeminist seminar for the festival, also
edited the book: "The Spectralization of Technology: From Elsewhere to
Cyberfeminism and Back (Institutional Modes of the Cyberworld)" published
by the festival.  Texts by Cornelia Sollfrank, Helen von Oldenburg, Claudia
Reiche (The Old Boys Network) <http://www.obn.org>, Eva Ursprung (artist
and curator at the Forum Stadtpark, Graz), Kathy Rae Huffman and Margarete
Jahrmann (pop~TARTS) <http://www.heise.de/tp/> presented the current and
related projects of the authors, establishing the evolution of
Cyberfeminism from an historical and theoretical review, to an overview of
issues involving the body, to the future of 3D internet performance and
representation of 3D space online. The book is available through MKC.

 Popular highlights of the festival included Stelarc's presentation of his
latest project "Exoskeleton" <http://www.stalarc.va.com.au/>, which was
produced in Hamburg in 1998. The work itself was to be demonstrated at the
Terminal Bar, Prague, May 19 & 20, as an online performance. Dr. Rachel
Armstrong, a physician who works closely with body artists such as Orlan
and Stelarc, gave a remarkable presentation on the development of
prosthetics, especially the work being accomplished in Leper colonies in
India (primarily by the affected residents of the colony).

 Gordana Andelic Galic, from Sarajevo, presented her imposing iron
sculpture "Kunst Macht Frei" a freestanding gateway, in the Culture
Center's interior courtyard square, immediately adjacent to workers who
were remodeling the building. Paraphrasing the Nazi slogan of the WWII
concentration camps, Arbeit mach frei, this work called to question the
current ethical and political problems that continue to plague the former

 Lisa Brandt, an Australian performance artist, presented the multi-media
performing environment Techno Hell at the SKUC student center where she
involved the audience in a series of interactions with news events and
multiple television images of real war and movie war. Rainer Linz, a sound
artist who has collaborated with Stelarc, presented a electronic
micro-concert, using a miniature keyboard in an event that created a large
impact. Linz's CD's were made available, including the recent release of
Fractal Flesh, the sound elements of Stelarc's internet performance works.

 The 6th Festival of Computer Arts plans to convene in May, in the year
2000, with a collaborative program that includes local, national and
international organizations and guests. To receive announcements,
information and to order festival catalogues or books, contact Joze Slacek,
director, at "MEDIA NOX" <media.nox@guest.arnes.si>.

Kathy Rae Huffman is Associate Professor of Electronic Art at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute (USA), and an ISEA Board member.


Editor: Katarina Soukup / Translation: Natalie Melancon
Collaborators: Eva Quintas, Atau Tanaka, Sylvie Fortin, James Wallbank,
Michael Boyce, VinylVideo- A Collective Memory, Amanda Aronczyk, Kathy Rae

ISEA,  3530 boul. Saint-Laurent, suite 305,
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Tel: (514) 847-8912, Fax: (514) 847-8834
email: isea@isea.qc.ca
URL: http://www.isea.qc.ca
ISEA Board Members:  Nina Czegledy, Kathy Rae Huffman, Amanda
McDonald Crowley, Alain Mongeau, Cynthia Beth Rubin, Thecla Shiphorst, Atau
Tanaka, Wim van der Plas.

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