#075 Dec 99/Jan 2000



#75 December 1999 - January 2000

* Editorial * ISEA News  * News from Members * Feature Articles  * Event Reports *

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


As another year comes to a close, ISEA finds itself on the cusp of a new
millennium. As the cliché goes, this is a time to both reflect on the past
and look to the future.

This year, ISEA worked hard to bring several projects to fruition. Virtual
Africa kicked off 1999 with a month-long web art workshop for African
artists in Dakar, Senegal in February, as well as a one-day colloquium on
African Art and New Technologies in Montreal in April.

In partnership with Itau Cultural Centre, CAiiA-STAR, and Leonardo,
Invencao in Sau Paulo, Brazil this August was a step in a new direction,
reflecting ISEA's desire to collaborate with other organizations in the
electronic arts and to extend its network towards traditionally
under-represented countries.

Cartographies - The General Assembly on New Media Art in Montreal this
October was a great success, gathering together both Canadian and
international new media artists and experts to share models, to network,
and to set the stage for future collaborations and partnerships.

This event represented the first "local initiative" foregrounded in ISEA's
new mission statement, which was rearticulated by the Board of Directors
during their first physical meeting outside of the Symposia context in
Montreal last March. Another aspect of the mission is to treat the issue of
cultural diversity seriously. Co-chaired by Cynthia Beth Rubin (USA), and
now, we are pleased to announce, Melentie Pandilovski (Macedonia), ISEA's
Cultural Diversity Committee has been active over the last year to build a
diversity database in order to reach out and open up our activities to
under-represented communities and regions of the world.

Our goal now is to extend the momentum of these activities into 2000.
Beyond the hype of Y2K and millennial brouhaha, 2000 is a huge year for
ISEA. Not only is it our 10-year anniversary, we are also pleased to
officially confirm that ISEA2000 will take place in December in Paris.
After some initial problems with funding, the project has an all-systems
go. Congratulations to Art3000, organizers of ISEA2000, for their hard work
in making this symposium a reality.

Art3000 will have a mailing list set up on their new site
http://www.art3000.com  to keep the international community informed about
symposium developments.The up-dates will be in the form of a monthly
newsletter, the first of which is slated to be put out at the end of
December. The call for papers and projects is also set to be launched
within the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Do we have any New Year's resolutions? ISEA HQ and the ISEA Board will work
in close collaboration with ISEA2000 to ensure that the theme of emergence
is at the heart of its preoccupations. As for ISEA HQ, we are currently
evaluating Cartographies and considering a second Cartographies on this
very concept (emerging countries and emerging artists/generations in the
electronic arts). It is also time to start thinking about ISEA2002, which
will ideally take place outside of Europe (we welcome interested parties to
make themselves known).

Can ISEA hope to see another good ten years? Yes, if the organization
succeeds in keeping itself relevant. In the meantime, keep an eye out for
the upcoming Electronic Archives project, which will bear witness to ISEA's
last ten years -and provide some valuable lessons.

Katarina Soukup, Alain Mongeau



The last two months have been busy for ISEA HQ. In addition to planning
Cartographies, our annual AGM was held on October 14, 1999. See highlights
from Kathy Rae Huffman's minutes below.

ISEA hosted the Montreal leg of Ricardo Iglesias' project Referencias for
NET.CONDITION (September 23 - November 19, 1999), a festival of web art
organized by ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany), MECAD/Media Centre for Art and
Design (Sabadell, Barcelona, Spain), InterCommunication Centre (Tokyo,
Japan), steirischer herbst (Graz, Austria).  (
http://www.isea.qc.ca/references )

ISEA Executive Director Carlos Soldevila moderated round tables and
workshops at several new media events. Forum des inforoutes et du multmedia
(FIM)  held a roundtable on the role of the artist in the multimedia
industry on October 18, 1999 . The international NewOp 8 conference on
Creation, Voice, New Technologies invited Carlos to moderate several
workshops and presentations November 10-13, 1999.

We welcome Sofie Tremblay to the team as webmaster -she began her tenure
with ISEA by mounting the excellent Cartographies web site. Special
projects and development coordinator, Eva Quintas, decided to leave ISEA in
October. In collaboration with Michel Lefebvre, she won the Prix Telefilm
Meilleur oevure canadienne en nouveaux medias for their CD-ROM Liquidation
at the Montreal International New Cinema and New Media Festival. Carlos
Soldevila's first child, Emmanuel, was born in November. Congratulations to
both Eva and Carlos. ISEA HQ would also like to extend a big thank-you to
Isabel Forner, who joined ISEA on an internship -she  helped make
Cartographies the success it was.

October 14, 1999
Montreal, Canada

To obtain the unabridged minutes, please contact ISEA HQ.

CARLOS SOLDEVILA (ISEA Executive Director) and moderator of the AGM opened
the meeting and welcomed everyone present. There were approximately 40
people at the meeting.

ALAIN MONGEAU (President of the Board of Directors), gave a short history
of ISEA, its founding in the Netherlands, and its move to Montreal in 1996.
The first two years in Montreal were made possible by sheer volunteer work.
Funding from the Daniel Langlois Foundation provided seed money, but since
it has established more formal programme guidelines, it no longer provides
operating funds. With no core funding, ISEA is now survives on project

THECLA SCHIPHORST (ISEA Board Member) read the new mission statement
(published in ISEA Newsletter #71) which was drawn up during an in-person
board meeting held in Montreal in March, 1999. At that meeting the survival
of the ISEA HQ in local and international contexts was discussed, as well
as the feasibilty of an annual symposium. The Board resolved to support
local initiatives and make the symposium a biennial event. Cartographies is
the first such "local initiative", and according to Alain Mongeau, proved
to be quite a success. He expressed the need for smaller conferences, where
local/regional and specific discussions can take place. PETER RIDE (DA2)
said it is incredibly useful to bring to the table points of view from
diverse sources, and to provide a space for specific topics to be worked
on.  ISEA HQ is considering follow up a event to Cartographies for 2000.

NINA CZEGLEDY (ISEA Board Member) gave the report from the Cultural
Diversity Committee on behalf of co-chair CYNTHIA BETH RUBIN. The database
of contacts and the HQ is now committed to working on diversity issues.
ISEA has taken on several regional events such as Virtual Africa and
Cartographies. These regional events should be "open" to ISEA members, with
enough time for members to participate. Diversity Committee Goals: ISEA
will develop into a truly diverse community of artists working in the
electronic arts; increase participation of under-represented groups. A
discussion including  Peter Ride, Alain Mongeau, Nina Czgledy followed
about inclusion and language at international events.

NILS AZIOSMANOFF (Art 3000) gave a report on ISEA2000. Good news: Art 3000
finally has confirmation of funding for ISEA2000. The French Ministry of
Culture, however, is not familiar with ISEA.  This made it very difficult
for Art 3000 to raise the money.  ISEA has the responsibility to change
this.  It is going to be important to have  good visibility in France.  Art
3000 expressed its need for help from ISEA to connect with the
international community of artists. The Call for Papers is slated to be
launched in December.

KATARINA SOUKUP (ISEA Staff) gave the International Relations report. ISEA
HQ has improved the international newsletter by increasing the content
(which now  includes submissons by members and  non-members).  ISEA HQ has
greatly improved the website vua the addition of links to many
organizations and a special calendar section. ISEA HQ also established
Chatterbox, a series of moderated discussions on the ISEA-Forum listserv.
The goal is to create content, instead of just being a vehicle for the
information of others.  A banner exchange increased ISEA's visibility on
the web and opened the door to collaborations and partnerships. ISEA HQ
will also be working on ISEA's electronic archives for ISEA's 10 year
anniversary in 2000. SARA DIAMOND of the Banff Centre's Multimedia
Institute expressed great interest in the two organizations collaborating,
by co-sponsoring events, sharing databases,etc.

NATALIE MELANCON (ISEA Staff) gave the Membership report. ISEA now has 204
members. This year there is no symposium, which is where most memberships
come from. At one time ISEA had about 400 members. Today, over 30 countries
are represented. Most are from Canada, UK and USA. Most are individuals,
but ISEA HQ has launched a campaign for institutional members.


Welcome and thank you to the following new and renewing members:

Nils Aziosmanoff, Anna Barros, Manon Blanchette, Alison Colman, Ivan David,
AGRICOLA  de Cologne, Frank Dietrich, Dena Eber, Diane Gromala, Erin Haley,
Haruo Ishii, Hana Iverson, Alice Jim, Bonnie Kane, Margot Lovejoy, Marta
Lyall, Shirley Madill, Muriel  Magenta, Caroline Martel, Andra McCartney,
Sylvie Parent, James  Provenzano, Markus Riebe, Michael  Rodemer, Hart
Snider, Jean-Paul Thomin, Steven Gerhard Valin, Nicole Vallières, Katherine
Watson, Erin Whittaker, Mike Wortsman, Gerald J.Z. Zielinski


* PATRICK LICHTY presented "GRIDSpace V" during the Sonic Circuits
festival, held in various Twin Cities (Minnesota, USA) locations November
4-6, 1999. GRIDSpace V is a series of tactile generative sound spaces that
create a collaborative sonic environment between the audience and
composer/artist. In this way the audience uses the tactile sensors to shape
their environment through movement. The GRID typically consists of a series
of tactile or infrared sensing devices that create seed event data, which
is sent to an algorithmically-based music program. However, in many cases,
the sonic palette is not only tonal, but also often atonal or environmental
in nature, creating unique opportunities for gallery visitors to 'explore'
the sonic terrain of the generative environment. Such an installation has
transformative qualities, and frequently presents the possibility of
creating an engaging sonic atmosphere to a gallery space.

* JACK OX  created a systematic visual translation of Kurt Schwitters,
Ursonate for @art, an electronic art gallery affiliated with the School of
Art and Design, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA). The
project takes the work back into a non-material performance space and is
the result of a collaborative effort between Ox and other artists adept in
the world of cyberspace. This newest incarnation of the Ursonate pushes it
even further into the realm of hybrid intermedia. Its an additive process
in which the paintings by Ox co-exist with Schwitter's voice, and the
distinction between original and copy is no longer clear or even important.

* In conjunction with Zack Settel, ATAU TANAKA  gave a workshop on
interactions between voice and machine at the NewOp 8 conference Creation,
Voice, and New Technology held in Montreal November 10 - 13, 1999. The
presentation explored different ways to interface the voice with digital
technology to capture and expand the expressive range of the singer.  See
event the event review of NewOp 8 below.


SATELLITE VISIONS:  A Look Back at Cartographies
Montreal, Canada
12-14 October, 1999

by Bernard Schütze


Cartographies opening day "Zone Zero New Media: Before and Beyond" took us
many zones beyond zero. The opening conferences provided a global view of
the vast   territory to be covered, charted and mapped over the coming
three days... and  beyond. Three speakers circulating in their specific
orbits, provided us with  three different satellite views of new media
territories past and present.

After Alain Mongeau's sober and informative introductory speech Pierre Lévy
lifted off into his geostationary orbit. A voyage guided by five questions
concerning the definition of new media. What (are new media)? to which
Pierre  Lévy responded with the simple explanation that it is computers in
general (the  old media will sooner or later be gobbled up by the digital
vacuum cleaner) and  the global interconnection between them. Conclusive
remark - new media are  generalized interconnectivity.

The second question Where From? led us on a dizzying journey from the early
appearance of humanity, via the Neolithic age and towards an exponential
forward  march of an ever increasing convergence leading finally to the
present state of  generalized interconnectivity, with its promise to upload
humanity and all its  digital machines into the Teilhard De Chardin
inspired noosphere. A brief guide  to and through human evolution à la
Pierre Lévy.

The third question What Does It Mean ? answer = the increasing momentum and
acceleration of interconnections, made possible through networked
human/computer  interaction, is bringing forth a concomitant rise in
consciousness that  translates into "collective intelligence". Among the
driving factors behind this  collective intelligence are a number of
factors: the erosion of borders, the  breakdown of barriers between
formerly separate spheres of human activity,  economic, cultural,
educational, social etc., and the fact that now all is  interconnected with
all. The fourth question: Where To Now? was in fact already  answered in
response to the previous question we are moving towards a collective
intelligence, and expanding universal consciousness, which is creating a
meta-document in which all of humanity and its machines are brought
together in a  holistic plurality.

The fifth and last query What Are The Problems ? focused squarely on
meaning. The  rapid acceleration brought about by generalized
interconnectivity has led to the  erasure of fixed symbolic systems which
formerly acted as guide posts to make  sense of the world. The current
situation, said Pierre Lévy, is one of "a  permanent destabilisation of
symbolic systems which make meaning problematic". We  are in a novel
culture driven by a mutational dynamic composed of complex  meta-systems
and meta-contexts,which are impossible for a single mind to grasp in  their
entirety. The remedy to this dilemma is already contained in the way the
problem is posed - semantic disorientation is only a minor side effect of
this  transition towards a culture of interconnectivity and collective
intelligence;  the interconnection of everything with everything will
eventually give rise to  new semantic guideposts termed universal but non-
totalising systems of  co-existence.

This may be a somewhat skewed synthesis of a complicated viewpoint, which I
cannot pretend to fully grasp, nonetheless I must admit that I was left a
little  befuddled by this grand exposé. This technotopian, universalizing
and almost  theological vision depicts a world of pure positivity where all
problems will be  resolved by the mere fact that all things are now
interconnected with everything.  As I have no desire to enter this
metaphysical battle ground, I shall pose a set  of prosaic questions: Does
this make any sense in relation to the actual state of  the world ? Does
this not seem way too GOOD to be true ? Does Pierre Lévy take  his own
system at face value, or is he being even more ironic than certain
postmodernists ?

If the latter is the case, he could be characterised as an inverted
Baudrillard.  Baudrillard's position is rooted in a self-assumed stance of
pure negativity, of  an appeal to the 'transparency of evil' and a delight
in apocalyptic  catastrophes. Pierre Lévy's position is rooted in pure
positivity, which refutes  critical theory since evil, negativity, or
boring old questions of social  inequality will ultimately be resolved by
the meta-document and collective  intelligence. Even though humanity's
collective flight into the next century may  seem turbulent, despair not,
the philosopher pilot guarantees safe landing in  this best of all (new
media) worlds.

As the pope of postmodern negativity, Baudrillard also refutes critical
theory  because the acceleration of our current technoculture makes
critical distance  impossible. Theory is thus condemned to dance to the
beat of technological  change, perversely and fatally replicating its
effects, without distance and  without foundation. One need not agree with
Baudrillard's position, but his  provocative stance has the healthy benefit
of making one readjust certain  outdated or petrified modes of thinking.

Perhaps, Pierre Lévy has taken this game one step further. It may just be
that  behind this philosophy, which if taken literally appears to be a
'theological'  apology for neoliberal economism with its blind faith in
global expansion and  unfettered technological development, there lies an
ironic provocation whose  purpose is to shake us out of our complacency. I
have no answers.:  Neo-enlightenment philosophy, techno-theology,
anti-postmodern irony, utopianism  ? Let collective intelligence make up
its mind.


The second panelist Gerfried Stocker, hailing from Ars Electronica, took us
on an  elliptical low level orbit hovering over and above central Europe.
Gerfried began  with an interesting conceptual template in which he
outlined the migration from  document and representation based art to event
and process based art. New media  have clearly been one of the major
driving forces behind this shift whose  consequences we are only beginning
to fully grasp. Rather, than taking us on  lofty and abstract orbital
outings, Gerfried navigated us through a well chosen  selection of examples
in order to substantiate and illustrate his point.

Perched behind his computer console Gerfried led the audience through a
roller  coaster ride of new media art works and events that were projected
on the large  screen behind the panelists. What most caught my attention in
Gerfried's  presentation was his capacity to weave in out of practical and
theoretical  considerations and engagements. This was in fact very much in
keeping with his  observation that new media have led to an increased cross
fertilization between  art practice and theory - "media theory has become
media practice" - and I would  add, that new media practice itself is
increasingly driving theoretical advances.

Perhaps more than any other panelists that spoke at the Cartographies event
,  Gerfried Stocker came the closest to actually 'doing' a cartography.
Eschewing  both polemical issues or abstract speculation, his presentation
was structured as  an open journey through the recent evolution of new
media from the late 60's to  the present. The projections and his
commentaries literally took the audience on  a virtual voyage through a
mapped out, but in no way closed off territory. The  cartographic markers
that Gerfried invoked were three fold:

 1.) shift from document to event
 2.) shift from storage to production
 3.) shift from representation and documentation to circulation and process
and time-based works

Depicting the new media territory in these terms raised questions about the
"changing paradigms of conservation" and the "changing role of the
spectator from  passive observer to active participant in the genesis of
art works". Rather than  providing answers to these questions, Gerfried
raised them as means to open new  paths and indicate possible developments
based on the road traveled so far.


Sarah Diamond's needle was dropped on an entirely different groove. Her
orbital  path, like Lévy's, again set us on a geostationary wide view path,
though it  became quite clear that their respective satellites had been
launched from  opposite sides of the theoretical world. Sarah Diamond's
position was clearly in  following with certain strands of postmodern
discourse, as expounded, among other  areas, in cultural studies,
progressive media theory and current critically  oriented new media

Where Pierre Lévy offered us a high flying overview of the best of possible
new  media worlds, and Gerfried mapped out a more down to earth and
pragmatic  territory, Sarah Diamond was quick to bring up some of the more
troubling aspects  of contemporary developments in the field. Briefly and
broadly summed up, her  presentation focused on a number of issues: virtual
annihilation and erasure of  memory and the local, the question of adequate
language and lexicons, the  structuring of accessible archives, hybridity
and diffference, the breakdown of  barriers, blurred distinctions between
artist and curator and corporate  colonization.

Having raised these questions and themes she went on to explain that it may
perhaps be time to re-think some of the assumptions that run through much
of  today's new media practice and theory. She made it clear that we need
to develop  a new lexicon that can address these problems in a meaningful
and pragmatic way.  Drawing on a previous Banff Centre brainstorm session,
she said that we should  perhaps leave the comfortable postmodern position
of irony behind and espouse  earnestness instead - if the corporate sector
has swallowed up irony as the  dominant mode of discourse than new media
art means business -. Earnestness in  this sense appears to be a way for
artists to say that one means what one says,  which by no means means
business. How can the field of new media reclaim its  resistant stance when
the very tools it uses are driven by a mercantile logic  that problematizes
and often neutralize irony. Difficult issues indeed. What to  do then ?

Contrary to Pierry Lévy, Sarah Diamond said that the territory is anything
but  benign, it is one of torture and sadism, that of a cruel world of
contradictions  in which new media practitioners and theorists not only
have a stake but also a  responsibility. Continuing on this path, she
suggested a number of potentially  transformative and resistant strategies.
One strategy consists of fighting the  corporate world with its own tools
and discursive practices. Against the ambient  atmosphere of uncritical
pan-economism one needs to develop counter economies  that challenge the
premise and goals of economic hegemony. The creative efforts  of Rtmark*
and Irrational.org were presented as cases in point here.

On a different level she called for a "re-materialization of certain
virtual  practices", of re-situating delocalized virtual spaces within
actual and situated  practices. This entails a re-introduction of the
sensorium, particularly the  haptic and tactile senses, and the
performative virtual or actual body. Lastly  she called for a shift from
the typically postmodernist, or even modernist  "suspension of belief"
stance, in favour of a return to a "a suspension of  disbelief"
representational mode. New ways, new paths back from the virtual to  the
actual that call for a greater affective investment of techno-spaces and
which can open up new territories leading to a transformative "third
space". A  third space that new media artists are perhaps the best placed
to define and  construct. Many questions, many places, leading to a
continuous stretching of the  boundaries, so that one may liberate oneself
from their constraints.

 Lévytation, Stocker-car ride and Diamond grinding - this broad spectrum of
views  served as a panoramic and instructive introduction to the more
earthbound  conferences that followed them. Clearly the territory of new
media is a contested  one taking on a myriad of shapes that are relative to
the perception of the  respective cartographers and their contexts. In a
sense it is the very act of  cartography that helps to define and shape the

As the these three views demonstrate, the map is constantly being re-drawn
as the terrain itself changes. What this opening conference made clear is
that there is  in fact no one single territory of new media, but rather a
plurality of sometimes  complimentary sometimes conflicting cartographies.
Each in their way indicates  forgotten paths from the past and new possible
paths into the future. The  cartographer, though, must always, work in the
present and on the ground whether  virtual, actual or virtactual. One step
at a time.


I. GPS - Europe
The matinal orbital outing of Cartographies  served as a basis for the
terrain-bound investigations of new media centres and models. Geo
Positioning Systems (GPS) bounced their signals off the satellite trio of
the key-note speakers in order to map out a variety of specific

The first team of  GPS equipped cartographers hailed from Western Europe:
Alex Adriaansens, V2 centre (Netherlands), Nils Aziosmanoff, Art3000
(France), Tiina Erkintalo, MuuMedia Festival (Finland), Claudia Giannetti,
Mecad (Spain), and Peter Ride DA2 (UK) took their places behind the
conference table in order to guide the audience through the diverse local
geographies of European-based new media territories.

What emerged most poignantly from this panel was the plurality of
approaches taken up in the respective contexts and countries. For instance,
Alex Adriaansens pointed out that in the Netherlands the general tendency
has been towards small or medium sized art centres which are periodically
brought together in festivals such as the Rotterdam-based biennial DEAF.
This contrasts starkly with the German and Austrian approach (previously
mapped out by Gerfried Stocker), which favours large institutional
anchorage, of which the ZKM and Ars Electronica are the most salient

For his part,  Peter Ride provided a good survey of the difficulty of
defining new media based practices and institutions in the British context.
The complexity of the models adopted in this context reflects the
difficulty of defining emerging new media art practices and artists in
general. He outlined the problematic definitions as being one in which
social, cultural, economic and political forces overlap and are hybridized.
Here one is caught between often contradictory positions:  the corporate
sector and the entrepreneur artist, the publicly funded art centre, the
autonomous DIY approach exemplified by the Mongrel collective, and the
artist teacher attached to public universities or private research
institutions,  etc.

Faced with such rough terrain, Peter Ride called for a transversal and
flexible model in which an emphasis should be put on training artists to
take more control, not only of the creative part of their work, but also of
the financial, administrative and management aspects related to new media
practice and production. Similar dilemmas between the public and private
sectors, corporate agendas and artistic autonomy were also raised by
Claudia Giannetti and Tiina Erkintalo, respectively.

As for France, Nils Aziosmanoff began by saying that his country was
clearly lagging behind in the field. A welcome and surprising declaration
of Gallic humility. French national insularity, top heavy bureaucracy and
centralized public funding were partially blamed for this état de choses.
Currently though, there seems to be both a desire and a will to espouse
more decentralized models that work from the grassroots up.  Nils expressed
hope that the choice of Paris for the next ISEA symposium will provide a
catalyst for such developments.

National, regional and local contexts are very much at work in defining the
diversity and plurality of actual and possible new media models and centres
in the European context.  It is thus not just a question of new media
centres and models but also of inherited structures and ways of operating
that account for the diversity and plurality of approaches presented here.
The old and the new, the vanishing and the emergent was the signal that
allowed locally based interventions to orient themselves within the global

II. GPS - Canada
The second day of panels, aptly named Tactical Zones, were devoted to
mapping the satellite-friendly territory of Canada. Given the number of
speakers and presentations, I shall restrict my scope to a broad
assessment. Unlike the European context, which is both nourished and
constrained by its past, the diversity and plurality of the Canadian
context seems to be more defined by geographical distance and regional
diversity than by historically-inherited structures.

The wide variety of models and approaches presented by the panelists
throughout both the morning and afternoon sessions tended to focus more on
the specific contexts of the various centres and organizations presented
than on wider considerations, as in the case of their European
counterparts.  Again, one was faced with a somewhat perplexing diversity
and multiplicity of approaches.  Where some panelists focused primarily on
presenting an overview and description of the centre they represented,
others also touched upon broader policy, corporate, aesthetic and
organizational issues. This created a somewhat dizzying rapid
"zoom-in/zoom-out" effect from very pragmatic issues ("this is what we do
in our centre"), to lofty philosophical debates on the question of Beauty!

Though the focus seemed to get somewhat lost between these two positions,
at times a sense of orientation did set in. The best example of this was
when Jocelyn Robert of Avatar (Quebec) took the floor. For his talk he
produced an orange balloon, which he subsequently blew up and released for
a short upward flight.  An allegorical, amusing and pertinent illustration
of some of the real problems one faces on the terrain. Putting matter quite
simply, Robert stated that art centres (read: the balloon) need input to
function (read: financing, infrastructure, policies, political will etc.).

He then asked if Alain Mongeau, the president of ISEA was present.
Response positive. Robert then proceeded to break the panelist/audience
barrier and literally put Alain (and himself) on the spot as he walked
towards him and took a seat next to the president. Another balloon was
produced and given to Alain. Meanwhile Robert continued his
presentation/performance in very relaxed and matter of way manner.

The next victim was David Poole, head of the Canada Council Media Arts
Section, who received the same treatment (balloon included) as Alain.
Robert's intervention was more than appropriate in that instead of merely
outlining what this or that centre does or digressing on issues beyond the
purview of the conference, he turned the conference room into a territory
and did a live cartography. Rather than endlessly speaking about virtual
networks, his performative statement made it evident that networks are
ultimately established through contact with real people. The closer the
contact and the more important the person, the better (hopefully) the
effect. To your balloons gentlemen!

Overall though, it must be said that Tactical Zones was somewhat
disappointing. The panelists seemed more concerned about describing and
promoting their respective centers than mapping an actual terrain or
raising questions and moving beyond one's four walls. This may be
symptomatic of our still lingering Canadian and Quebecois provincialism and
the accompanying elbow pushing and blanket tugging. In this sense the
debates fit the term Tactical Zones very well. This being said, something
of a cartography of the territory did emerge, and this was revealing and
valuable in and of itself.  Though I think we have much to learn from our
European and (conspicuously absent) American counterparts in this regard.

III. Going mobile - Between the Scylla of vanishing signals and the
Charybdis of emerging territories.

The last and final round-tables Mobile Zones - The Challenge of New
Networks  took place simultaneously in adjacent rooms.  One addressed
questions of archiving and conservation in a world increasingly dedicated
to near instant obsolescence, while the other focused on the relation
between research, industry, education and new media practice and culture.

The round-table  Conserving and Archiving Digital Works  was housed in the
more intimate space of the Ex-centris Cassavetes room.  Unlike the bulk of
events that took place in the larger and more imposing Fellini room, where
everything was recorded and video-taped, the round-table on archiving was
not officially and electronically committed to memory. Ironic to say the
least. Perhaps due to the  more relaxed atmosphere and the more focused
scope of the subject, the round-table proved be one of the most interesting
and animated events of Cartographies..  The panelists Alain Depocas
(Montreal), Steve Dietz (Minneapolis), Robin Murphy (New York), Virginie
Pringuet (Montreal) and the moderator Petra Mueller (Montreal) respectively
provided a cogent overview of the challenge of conservation and archiving
in the digital age.  Unlike the previous conference, this was a cartography
of vanishing territories, of fleeting traces and the challenge that this
poses for artists, curators and  audiences.

Alain Depocas' opening presentation provided an informative overview of the
challenges that face the postmodern-day archivist. Drawing both on
historical examples such as the 19th century panoramas and the current
state of the archivist art,  Alain's paper opened a territory and provided
guide posts for the remainder of the conference. Speaking from a more
pragmatic point of view

Steve Dietz described his on-going work as New Media initiatives director
at the Walker Art Center. His main focus was on the difficulty of curating
and archiving works that are by their very nature ephemeral and placeless.
To simply let works disappear at a rate that is equivalent to technological
obsolescence would be tantamount to burning books, he said. He invoked the
notion of the notion of the "unreliable archivist", an archivist that is no
longer just faced with artifacts and documents, but also with dynamic and
flexible processes brought about by digital networks.  The new archivist
must thus espouse a multiple perspective position, which pays as much heed
to the networks (viewed as placeless archives) as to the content.

As an artist Robin Murphy cast a different but complimentary light on the
question of conservation of digitally produced artworks. Likening himself
to a most unreliable archivist he insisted that artists should play more of
a role in archiving and conservation, not only because the new technologies
make this possible, but also because this allows them to outflank the top
down based politics of traditional museum based conservation approaches.

Virginie Pringuet, for her part, presented the Dead D.A.T.A project whose
objective is to transform disused urban landmarks into physical spaces for
the conservation, preservation and dissemination of new (dead or alive)
media. As a case in point she described the defunct Craig Pumping Sation.
This unusual Montréal landmark lies at the centre of an overlay of old and
new  networks (water system, a highway, a bridge, a train line, the St
Lawrence river waterway and the nearby teleport and CBC building etc.)

Refurbishing this site as a media conservation centre would be most
appropriate since the building and its surroundings are eloquent reminders
of so much that has faded from the hard-disk fastforward of all digital
culture. In the final presentation, Petra Mueller used the example of a
series of little known Andy Warhol video tapes shot at the Factory to
comment on how rapidly and inexorably electronic signals deteriorate. She
enthusiastically declared that restoring signal-debilitated works was
perhaps more exciting than restoring classical oil paintings. The ensuing
conversation and exchange was as lively and stimulating as the
presentations themselves.  This round-table went a long way to show that
perhaps  those who dare to look back are often the best placed to orient
themselves in the present.

The other round-table tackled the issue of research and innovation in
relation to new media art practices. Unlike the conservation and archive
round-table the focus here was on future developments and current models of
collaboration. Of all the territories traversed during the event this was
the broadest and perhaps the most difficult to clearly map out. The
relationship between the commercial sector, universities and new media
practionners is one that is always bound to be somewhat controversial and
at times conflictual.

IV. Closing the circle
Looking back at the territory one can only say that Cartographies succeeded
both in providing new guide posts whereby to steer oneself through the
still emerging and contested territory of new media. The multiple
perspectives and definitions that arose during both the presentations and
question periods provided both a sense of orientation and one of
disorientation. Orientation in the sense that it brought the actual state
of new media centres, both here and in Europe into clearer focus.
Disorientation, in the sense that it was not always clear exactly what this
territory we call new media has and is bringing forth. But is it not the
cartographers fate to always be caught between orientation -an already
defined territory- and disorientation -a territory whose configuration we
are only beginning to glimpse.  It is this interplay that made the event
more than worthwhile, and one can only hope that another cartography
session will be called in the near future  so that we may once again
examine the plurality of paths and the horizons to which they promise to
lead us.


4e Manifestiation internationale video et art electronique
Montreal, Canada
September 20-27, 1999

report by Katarina Soukup

As mentioned in the previous ISEA Newsletter, Montreal was treated to a
flurry of international new media art events this fall. Champ Libre's
festival of video and electronic art in September occupied a beautifully
salvaged  industrial building in what are known as the Angus Yards, an
erstwhile CN rail depot. The cavernous space, which was recently
transformed from empty warehouse to funky business and culture offices by
an urban renewal investment, was eerily lit, rendering the exposed steel
iron girders and rough brick walls quite beautiful. It seemed somehow
appropriate that a festival of new media art would find itself in a space
haunted by traces of a bygone industrial era. In making my way to the
festival venue for the first time one night, I had to take a long bus ride
and was dropped off on the edge of the industrial terrain, feeling like I'd
been waylaid in the middle of nowhere. To my delight and relief, I found
the festival after a creepy, albeit short, walk down a deserted road.

Despite its distance from downtown Montreal's hum and activity, the
Manifestation seemed to attract quite a crowd. It treated festival-goers to
roundtables during the day and  video screenings, performances, and DJ
parties in the evening. A dozen computer stations served up a selection of
CD-ROMs and websites.

My favourite festival offering by far was SONIC INTERFACE, the interactive
sound installation by Japanese media artist Akitsugu Mayebayashi. Focusing
on the ear as the conduit for making sense of the world,  Mayebayashi
invited the public to don a set of headphones and a knapsack containing a
laptop computer. Tiny mircophones were mounted on the headset and wired to
the laptop, which transformed the ambient sound in three different ways:
delay, loop, and sample layering. The effects were simple, but they had a
profound influence on how one experienced moving and listening in the
space. The first effect, the delay, served to completely dislocate users
from their surrounding environment, encouraging them to ignore the
out-of-synch visual stimuli and focus on navigating the space with their
ears. The sounds became gradually more complex, creating a soundscape which
made reference to one's actual environment as an "unfaithful"
re-production. According to Mayebayashi, his "listening device" was meant
to amplify hearing via the technology, which then takes on the role of
interface between the body and its environment. The piece was actually made
for an urban jungle with street noises -and not the closed space of the
warehouse in which the festival took place- and I would have loved to try
it out on, say, Montreal's St-Laurent Boulevard. But as someone said to me,
maybe it was better to be in the relatively safe warehouse space: on the
street, the dislocation and disorientation could get dangerous....you could
be hit by a bus -and only hear it 4 seconds later!


ELEKTRA: New Series Of Electro - Techno - Multimedia Events
Montreal, Canada
November 4-13, 1999

report by Katarina Soukup

Under the artistic direction of Alain Thibault, ACREQ (Association creation
recherche electroacoustic Quebec) presented Elektra, a series of
electro-techno-multimedia happenings at Usine C in Montreal. Spread over
two weekends, the event featured performances and audio-visual screenings.
Each night after the performances, several DJs (including DJ Neurom aka
Alain Mongeau) carried us into the wee hours of the morning.

The first weekend, one-time Montrealer Monty Cantsin (aka Istvan Kantor)
gave us the performance Executive Machinery which consisted of the rhythmic
clanging of filing cabinets controlled by computer-operated robots. Turning
to some "old media", Elektra presented French electroacoustic composer
Pierre Henry's 1967 opus "L'apocalypse de Jean". The weekend was rounded
out by Haute Tensions 2000, an impressive line-up of 8 Canadian new video
and electroacoustic works streamed through 40 (!) speakers.

The second weekend of Elektra was centred on the North American premiere of
POL by the Austrian duo Granular Synthesis (this show was presented at
ISEA98 in Liverpool). No strangers to Montreal, Granular Synthesis were
here during ISEA 95, at Usine C in 1997, and most recently at the Montreal
Museum of Contemporary Art last spring. Rumour has it that the NoiseGate
M-6 installation was so powerful, the foundations of the Museum were
dangerously shaken! The Museum was obliged to turn down the volume...

This potential for sound to be a powerful physical, visceral force was
demonstrated  yet again with POL. Using 7 video screens, and numerous
speakers, the piece was based on the atomized image and voice of extreme
vocalist Diamanda Galas. Billed as an "aggressive and erotic show" (a
description which raised not a few eyebrows), POL was more of an endurance
test than a performance. Just before it began, a friend said only
half-jokingly, "I'm afraid...!" With POL, the supremacy of the ears and
eyes as sense organs entirely collapsed -this piece was a whole body
experience, as sound invaded every orifice. Event organizers thoughtfully
handed out earplugs beforehand, but I removed mine at various points during
POL in order to feel the force of the show full on. My teeth chattered, my
hair vibrated, and my stomach pulsated with subsonic sound. Nevermind
structural damage to buildings, I was more concerned about the long-term
damage to my own human body!

Granular Synthesis say POL is their most abstract piece so far, "utilizing
images and sounds of the human body in shredded, flickering portions,
partly embedded in high intensity stroboscopic light." "Within POL," they
say,  "the audience is invited to participate in the questioning of
sensually encountered sounds and imagery at times frustrating and at others
hypnotic, the freedom which remains is the freedom to dive in or leave."
There was a steady trickle of departures from the performance, but I stayed
to the very end, just to see how much I could take.  I can't say, though,
I'd be soon keen to dive back into the fray!


New York, USA
November 13-14, 1999

report by Kathy Rae Huffman

The second annual ArtSci conference was held November 13-14, 1999, in the
Great Hall Auditorium of Cooper Union (http://www.cooper.edu).  There, in
the campus auditorium with numerous columns (a site-line nightmare), a
gathering of students, artists, and curious digital enthusiasts co-mingled
their levels of knowledge and expertise. Subtitled "seeding collaboration",
the two day event proposed to investigate "the will to integrate, merge and
collaborate" in a variety of panel discussions, presentations and break-out
sessions geared to confront some of the most heady problems facing the
scientific/artistic community at the end of the millennium.  Bio-Ethics,
and Creativity topics worthy of a conference, were sandwiched between
numerous panels dealing with the practical problems and history of research
across disciplines, and the resulting challenges to the collective
communities of science and art.

Organized by Cynthia Pannucci, founder and director of ASCI (Art & Science
Collaborations, Inc.) (http://www.asci.org/), the ArtSci '99 mirrored the
objectives of the ASCI membership organization, which was established in
1988 to support artists in New York City who use technology.  A
self-motivated and enthusiastic director, Pannucci runs a one woman show,
with help from a board of directors weighted heavily with practicing
artists. The ASCI mandate is extremely broad and inclusive, and determined
to assist with the invention of a new vocabulary to assist communication
between artists and scientists, because, as Pannucci says, they speak
different languages. Her focus is on the New York digital artists
community, but the organization website receives between 48,000-50,000 hits
monthly, which indicates a definite group of intentional surfers, seeking
information within its contents, and they are probably sitting at computer
screens outside the boundaries of Manhattan.  Definitely a not-for-profit
affair, this locally motivated organization brings the digi-clan together
for exchange and supportive feedback numerous times a year.

I had never attended any of ASCI's events, and after examining the
conference schedule, was hopeful that my trip from Albany to the City would
result in new resources, information and inspiration. Interested to find
out more about ASCI, and the proposed topic, I arrived early on Saturday
morning and realized I would be faced with a mixed bag of information, from
a diverse group of experts. As a concept, the event was well conceived and
can even be considered necessary.  But in reality, it is extremely
difficult to mix-up as many speakers on these topics in such a short
timeframe, in front of an audience that seemed to be looking for
confirmation of their art practice.  The conference was sparsely attended,
due in part (I suspect) to the pricey entrance fee.  The exhibitors tables,
or "Resource Tables" never really materialized for any extensive purpose,
and the exhibition was in another location. Without a press pass, I would
not have attended this event.

Sponsored by Leonardo Journal,  ARTBYTE magazine, and 12 Point Rule, Ltd.(a
commercial company), there was no lack of PR or mentored content.  So, I
was curious why the event remained on the level of an adult education
course, or a hurried distance learning course delivered to professionals on
a concentrated weekend.  The speakers, all very notable, were heavily
contextualized, and then hurried off to keep the program (which was totally
off-schedule from the beginning) working smoothly. The topics were overly
weighted towards the necessity of collaborations, and their history, and
there were too few case studies, and no serious in-depth analyses of a
spectacular cross-disciplinary event or project. The Artist-Scientist Teams
at the end of the conference were a step in this direction, with Todd Siler
& the MIT group that created "Architectonics of Thought",  and Victoria
Vesna presenting her project from Santa Barbara "Research Across
Disciplines" .  These were exceptions.  More presentations on this order
would certainly up the ante of the conference content, and would provide
substantive information for working artists discussions about collaboration.

The exhibition "The 2nd Annual Digital Art Exhibition"  also sponsored by
ASCI was premiered prior to ArtSci '99,  in the Computer Gallery of the New
York Hall of Science (NYHOS), September 12 - October 10, 1999.  Juried by
Therese Mulligan, Curator of Photography, The George Eastman House,
Rochester, NY, eight works were selected from more than 75 entries, with
the  final works in the categories of Digital Prints and Web Art.  Examples
from each artist are visible online at (http://www.asci.org/home.html) and
include web works by Carmin Karasic, Liz Miller, Parkbench.org (Nina
Sobell, Emily Hartzell and Sonya Allin), and prints by Abigail Doan, Madge
Gleeson, Jun-Ho Lee and Marjan Moghaddam.

Digital 99 featured a varied group of artists, but a keen tendency toward
the personal, biographical, and narrative prevailed in the selection.
Mulligan, in her statement, asks:  "Šdoes this mean that I - or you - must
approach digital art with a special or new way of seeing that is wholly
attune to this new media? The answer is no."  This is an answer that is
often repeated by those unfamiliar with digital work, and may be one reason
that keeps the work of digital artists out of the main selection process
for art museums.   The fact is that the subject matter of many digital
artists  is affected heavily by the technology they use, and leads to new
aesthetic discriminations, which are rapidly changing the commercial
landscape, but are slow to enter the careful research pathways followed by
the majority of curators.  Digital 99 was available at the Brooks Gallery,
in a different building of Cooper Union.   Even though it was close by, it
would have served the artists and the conference more effectively as a
constant reference to the focus of most of the attendees, and one that is
important to represent within the context of discussion: the Art.

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


NewOp 8: Conference On Creation, Voice, and New Technology
Montreal, Canada
November 10 - 13 , 1999

report by Katarina Soukup

Montreal-based lyrical art company Chants Libres hosted the 8th annual New
Opera conference, which decided to tackle the theme of Creation, Voice and
New Technologies this year. Under the guidance of Chants Libres' artistic
director, Pauline Vaillancourt, the conference offered various workshops
exploring  different technologies and tools available to extend vocal and
theatrical limits.

These included Atau Tanaka's presentation of the Bio-Muse, a gestural
interface which picks up neuronal impulses of tension and action from the
muscles in the body and transforms these parametre changes into sound via
Max, a software developed at IRCAM in France. Tanaka's collaborator, Zack
Settel showed how this technology could also be used to extend the voice of
a performer -using the sound of the voice as input instead of gesture.

The conference opened with Pauline Vaillancourt's solo performance of Canti
del Capricorno by Giacinto Scelsi -a piece originally written for the
Japanese singer, Michiko Hirayama, in 1962.  Vaillancourt's take on Canti
transformed it into a "multimedia" opera featuring video images by Michel
Giroux and the postively uterine costume and flesh-hued set design of
Massimo Guerrara. Playing on notions of the grotesque, creation as
gestation, and the various ways in which the female voice and body are
formed and deformed, Vaillancourt was laced into a tight Elizabethen corset
with wide-hipped extensions. She wore a hood with two fallopian outgrowths
shooting from her head -giving the impression of both a strange sort of bug
and an inverted womb-like crown.  With its peachy flesh-tones, concetric
uterine designs, built-in orifices, and even a playful set of hands
emerging from the wall to capture and lift Vaillancourt off the stage floor
for a moment or two, set desginer Massimo Guerrara's bizarre amalgamation
of female body parts reminded me of the visceral aesthetic of Linda
Dement's Cyberflesh Girl Monster.

NewOp 8 brought together musical theatre and opera afficiandos as well as
new technology specialists -a strange overlap of worlds at times. It was,
however, fascinating to see how new technologies are infiltrating
traditional disciplines. These disciplines are being transformed by new
media, surely; but even more interesting is how developments in new
technologies might also be influenced by the ways in which traditional
practitioners appropriate new media for their own aesthetic purposes.


Media Lounge
Festival international du nouveau Cinema et des nouveaux Medias de Montreal
Montreal,  Canada
14 - 24 Octobre, 1999

report by Katarina Soukup

According to the catalogue, the concept behind this year's Media Lounge was
"based on a trajectory beginning on a minimalist note, gradually
progressing towards an increasing sensorial overlode." Within this
trajectory, the new media section of the FCMM presented numerous
installations, CD-ROMs, websites, performances, DJ parties, and artist

Heavily influence by DJ and dance culture, evenings at the Media Lounge
featured the likes of Atmosphere (Germany), Farmer's Manual (Austria), as
well as scratch VJs Ron and Safy (Israel) with their luminous,
colour-saturated images and meditative soundtrack.

The innovative Reality Dub by Cecile Babiole and Fred Bigot (France)
consisted of a mini-van with blackened windows and sound/image input.
Passengers were taken on a ride through Montreal city streets and treated
to an ever-changing "re-mix" of the urban landscape via screens and
speakers located inside the vehicle. A thrillingly disorienting experience
-perhaps a little too dizzying, as I once overheard it called the "Barf

VinylVideo, a playful installation by Gebhard Sengmuller/Best Before
(Austria), presented us with a 'fake archeology of media'. Previously
reviewed in the ISEA Newsletter (#72), the installation features a retro
setup with 70s-issue modular tv, a collection of vinyl LPs (a limited
edition of works by Vuk Cosic, JODI, Alexej Shulgin and others), and a
mystery black box (devised by Sengmuller and engineer Gunther Erhart) which
enables the groove signals to be decifered into low resolution video
images. Despite Sengmuller's detailed  (and seemingly sincere!) technical
explanations, the main debate about VinylVideo remained whether it was a
real technology or a hoax -an ambiguity which curator and co-conspirator
Rike Frank of Best Before coyly declined to clear up.

Afasia by Macel Li Antunez Roca (Spain) was an over-the-top multimedia
spectacle (for there can be no other word for it) based on Homer's Odyssey.
Strapped into a  plastic and metal "exoskeleton", Antunez controlled all
manner of hydraulic robot creations scattered on stage, as well as a slew
of visceral video images, with his body and facial gestures. Whether
intentionally or not, this aggressive performance playing into the
archetype of the grotesque body often came across as rather cartoonish.

The Media Lounge also featured several installations such as Felt
Histories, Thecla Schiphorst's (Canada) interactive sound and video
project. With a door-frame as the threshold of interaction, the still image
projected on the fabric door surface could only be prompted into action by
the movement and touch of the spectactor.

Finally, among the websites was the chaotic OSS by the anti-social web duo
JODI (Netherlands/Spain). A virus-like operating system, OSS had
festival-goers constantly rebooting the glowing G3s in hopes of eradicating
the maddening interface. In the end they were left only with the option of
relearning how they approach and interact with a computer system -learning
to relinquish control.


To be sent under separate cover.

ISEA NEWSLETTER=========================================================

Editor: Katarina Soukup /Translation: Eve-Isabelle Charbonneau, Caroline
Martel, Natalie Melancon, Sofie Tremblay
Contributors:  Kathy Rae Huffman, Natalie Melancon, Bernard Schütze,
Katarina Soukup

ISEA, 3530 boul. Saint-Laurent, suite 305, Montreal (Qc), H2X 2V1, CANADA
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 Schiphorst, Atau
Tanaka, Wim van der Plas

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