#077 Apr/May 2000



#77 April - May 2000
                 * CONTENTS *

* Editorial * ISEA News * News from Members * 
* Feature Articles * Event Reports * Calls for Projects *

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



While we celebrate and look back on the last decade of ISEA history, we
must also keep our eyes on future developments in new media and the
electronic arts. With spring bringing warmer climes (to the Northern
Hemisphere at least!) and thoughts of renewal, the time has come to
consider the hosts and sites of the next series of ISEA Symposia: ISEA2002,
ISEA2004, ISEA2006. At last year's Montreal Board meeting, it was decided
that the ISEA Symposium would return to the biennial format, reflecting an
adaptation to the ever-increasing number of international new media events
around the world which has created a very active and exciting -though at
times crowded!- calendar.

In line with numerous other efforts to diversify our networks and the
electronic arts community more generally, ISEA is particularly interested
in hearing from potential ISEA2002 candidates outside of Western Europe and
North America.

For further information, please see the full Call for Symposium Bids below.
Detailed information is also available on the ISEA website:

Katarina Soukup



The deadline of the ISEA2000 Call for Papers and Participation has been
extended to April 30, 2000. Please see INL#76 for the full details of the
call, or consult the ISEA and Art3000 websites:



ISEA2002, ISEA2004, ISEA2006

The Board of ISEA is now accepting bids for future symposia in a series
known as the International Symposium on Electronic Art   These symposia
bring together artists, scientists, and theoreticians involved in the
electronic arts for a week of workshops, exhibitions, performances, panels,
roundtables, and other related events in different venues around the globe.
 Each Symposium is organized by an independent agency, in cooperation with
the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts.

ISEA and  the Symposium are dedicated to the interdisciplinary and
cross-cultural communication/ cooperation between the arts and the fields
of technology, science, education, and industry.

ISEA and the ISEA Symposium create platforms for :
o the exchange of ideas and critical discourse
o connecting communities and facilitating access
o research, presentation and exhibition

ISEA will realize this mission through organizing international symposia
and local events, developing partnerships, implementing culturally diverse
initiatives, and through publishing and archiving. ISEA is committed to
collaboration, membership participation, creation of new work, and
multilingual communication.

Through these means ISEA and the ISEA Symposium both shape, and are
responsive to, the evolving nature of the relationship between the arts and

ISEA is particularly interested in candidates outside of Western Europe and
North America for ISEA2002.

ISEA Symposia have taken place in the following cities:

1. Utrecht, Netherlands (FISEA, 1988)
2. Groningen, Netherlands (SISEA, 1990)
3. Sydney, Australia (TISEA, 1992)
4. Minneapolis, USA (FISEA, 1993)
5. Helsinki, Finland (ISEA94)
6. Montreal, Canada (ISEA95)
7. Rotterdam, Netherlands (ISEA96)
8. Chicago, USA (ISEA97)
9. Liverpool & Manchester, UK (ISEA98)
10. Paris, France (ISEA2000) - 10th edition

Potential hosts are strongly encouraged to visit the Symposia archives and
to carefully read the Symposium Guidelines. This information is available
on the ISEA website:


ISEA currently invites those interested in hosting a future ISEA Symposium
to manifest their interest. Letters of interest indicating location, host
organization, year, and (if possible) dates of the proposed Symposium will
be accepted from April 1 to May 31, 2000. 

Symposium bids will be accepted from:

Category 1:
(Educational) institutes (universities, art schools, museums etc.),
(artistic, cultural scientific) organizations, government bodies, etc.;

Category 2
Congress organizing bureaus;

Category 3
Umbrella organizations created for the purpose of hosting an ISEA Symposium.

>From this pool of bids, potential host organizations will be invited to
submit a more detailed dossier, and will be guided through the Symposium
submission process. Final dossiers must include:

o Creative vision for the particular event
o Business or operational plan, including a financial plan
o Draft event program which should include the following:
-An academic three-day Symposium
-An Electronic Art Exhibition
-A Film & Video Show
-At least one Publication, also accessible to non-participants
-PR activities
-An Inter-Society General Meeting


Potential Symposium hosts will be invited to make a presentation during
ISEA2000, 10th International Symposium on Electronic Art in Paris, France
(December 7-10, 2000). The Board of the Inter-Society is responsible for
appointing the successful candidates.

For more information, please contact ISEA HQ: isea@isea.qc.ca



ISEA is pleased to announce a new member benefit: The international journal
Digital Creativity has generously granted ISEA members a 25% discount on
annual subscriptions. The journal, which is edited by Colin Beardon (UK)
and Lone Malmbourg (Sweden), carries articles, tutorials, personal
viewpoints and reviews of books, conferences, exhibitions, etc of relevance
to those involved in art and design at higher education levels. It covers
all the traditional sub-disciplines of art and design (fine art painting,
printmaking, sculpture, graphic design, illustration, photography, textiles
and fashion, 3D design, product design, jewelry, ceramics, furniture) as
well as the performing arts (theatre, dance, music). It also covers the
newly emerging disciplines that are based around digital technologies as a
medium (digital art, web-based art, computer-supported collaborative design).


Please contact HQ for details: isea@isea.qc.ca



ISEA is currently seeking bilingual members (English-French) who would like
to volunteer to do translation work for the ISEA newsletter. To offer your
services, or for more information, please contact ISEA HQ: isea@isea.qc.ca


DIANE GROMALA'S article 'Re-embodiment Dancing with the Virtual Dervish:
Virtual Bodies' was published in the  new issue of Riding the Meridian:
Women and Technology. It is available online at:

DIANE GROMALA and KATHY RAE HUFFMAN participated in a the Sins of Change:
Media Arts in Transition, Again conference at the Walker Art Centre in
Minneapolis, MN (USA). The conference is a follow-up to the 1983 conference
of the same name. The 2000 version of Sins of Change brought together
curators, academics, and artists from around the world to share their
perspectives on the issues underlying the state of media arts. KATHY RAE
presented on a panel dedicated to audiences and the politics of access.
DIANE participated in a panel examining the rhetoric of visual display
strategies in cinema, virtual environments, installations, and the museum.



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

Norma  Wagner
Anna J.  Bonshek
Jan  Schuijren
Grace  Quintanilla
Pascale  Malaterre
Evelise  Anicet Ruthschilling
Katherine  Liberovskaya
Hans  Mittendorf
David  Tomas
Bill Vorn
Rene Beekman
Stan Bowman
Philip Galanter
Virginie Pringuet
Sue Rees
Elisabeth Sweedyk
Michel Charles Therrien


ISEA member Wilfried Agricola de Cologne invites contributions from other
ISEA members. 

Call for Participation  

addressed to

visual artists, institutions in the field  art,  culture and sciences and
public relevance, authors in  the fields of art,  culture and  sciences,
interested individuals

Art Project

"A" Virtual Memorial - www.a-virtual-memorial.de
Memorial  project against the Forgetting and for Humanity

Author and artist: <mailto:info@agricola-de-cologne.de>AGRICOLA de  Cologne

Remembering (Commemorating)  -Repressing-Forgetting

A counter point for the fast running and changing  environment of the
Internet will be created, intending to provoke starting an  (artistic)
discussion about essential questions of human existence.   

Starting point:

Guilt and flight from responsibility are often enough reason for repressing
 problems, forgetting means elimination of being (and vice-versa),
remembering:  the chance for sorting oneself out

Certainly one of the most insisting examples represents  the Holocaust,
whether from the view of the victims, the culprits, the  fellow travellers
or the outsiders or the latern born; not comparable in their  dimension,
but comparable in the consequence of human behaviors, the genocide in
Kosovo, civil war in Angola, the situation of the homeless people here an
anywhere;   but in the same way in the daily life and the human
interrelations the same repeating rituals happen; countless examples in the
 Past, Present and certainly Future, as well. 

Forgetting and repressing are the basis of the  publishing  media and
public meaning, the latest news are old and worthless  while being
published, human destiny only relevant if the viewing figures are on  the
highest level, and only, when connected with material profit.   

The heart of a computer is called memory. The mass of continuously upcoming
 information and data are beyond the limits of the available capacities.
Data have to be deleted.

The dimensions may be small connected to the PC at home.  

What's about the coordinating points where the relevant decisions are made
in  matters of administration, sciences, politics or economy. Who is
allowed to  decide, what or who worth is to be saved or to be alive, or
what or who has to  be changed or manipulated, or has to be deleted or
exterminated because it is  not worth to be saved or to exist. What's about
all those people standing  outside of that kind of responsibility.


This call is addressed to

visual artists, who are invited to make an artistic statement  to the
subject by creating an object of art in form of a webpage, or submit
already existing projects or webpages related to the subject.

In principle, all submitted homepages will be included in the project by
installing a link to (including a reciprocal  link from) the respective

Further more, www.a-virtual-memorial.de will  function as a server and will
be able to integrate  homepages  directly, already existing or  created for
the Memorial project, under  certain selecting terms. Sufficient saving
capacity is available.

Ask for terms and details.

Authors from the field of art, culture and  sciences and persons of public
relevance, who are  invited to make  statements to the subject under
certain aspects, which will be integrated to the  TextObjects section.

Institutions in the fields of art, culture,  sciences and public relevance,
who are invited to cooperating, networking and  supporting. 

Visitors of the website who are invited to give live their personal
comments to  the project and its subject 

The website of the memorial project will be a forum the exchange of the
variety of collected information and associations intending to create an
image  or memorial inside the viewer or visitor. Further more, it is the
author's intention, to realize the project at a  later,  progressing state
in a real exhibition environment,  as  well. Finally, the project is open
for the Unexpected, new developments and  perceptions.

For more information, please send an email to


The Real, the Virtual, the Auratic

by Ernestine Daubner

As part of the celebration of its 25th year of publication, Concordia
University's Journal of Canadian Art History, along with the Art History
Department,  sponsored  the conference,  ART AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES: THE
REAL, THE VIRTUAL, THE AURATIC. Held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts,
February 11th 2000, this event proved to be one of those occasions where,
by taking a step back, one was able to see afresh.  This was not a forum on
futuristic techno-utopias, and it certainly did not herald any impending
apocalypse.  Instead  the four artist-presenters, Margot Lovejoy, Bill
Vorn, David Tomas and Andra McCartney, provided us with (un)familiar
vantage points from which to consider not only new media art but one's
perceptions and conceptions of  "reality" and "virtuality."  In diverse
ways, each of the presenters invited us to encounter the real in the
virtual or to recognize the virtuality inherent  in the commonplace, in our
memories, in our historical constructs, and in those fluid spaces where one
negotiates meanings.  

Margot Lovejoy "salvaged" for us the historical concept of the "aura" in
its current manifestations, exploring how, in the age of electronic media,
we are witnessing the decline (of what was surely always  the virtual
illusion) of a fixed point of view.  In her interactive installation,
Salvage, she situates the participant in a dialogic space where fragmented
and moving dialectical images trigger, and collide with, one's personal
memories.   Punctuating the auratic, such an interactive space makes
visible to us, the participants, the complex processes of mediation
involved in the construction of meanings.   From a different perspective,
David Tomas also focussed on the convergence of  history and the present.
 Introducing us to his internet/CD ROM book entitled "The Encoded Eye, the
Archive, and its Engine House,"  Tomas situated the digital book within
cultural and historical contexts.  Clicking through his virtual book, one
can encounter  recurring circular structures related  to reading (The
Circular Reading Room) and to technological progress (The Circular
Engine-House).  Historically serving as storage, retrieval and distribution
systems for books and for locomotives, these circular signs pertaining to
knowledge and information, as well as to (loco)motion and progress, also
operate as models for the digital age.  By envisioning the present in light
of the past,  Tomas prompts one to recognize how memory and historical
structures virtually construct perceptions and conceptions in and of the
present, and how the "encoded eye" color(ed)  histories of  the future.

In contrast to such virtual memory spaces, Andra McCartney shared with us
her aural and auratic encounters of  the here and now, her soundscape
recordings providing, electronically,  heightened sensorial experiences of
the real  and of the commonplace. Through the amplification or distortion
of  fleeting and sometimes barely audible sounds recorded in the course of
walks through familiar places,  McCartney brings  to our consciousness the
extraordinary that inhabits  the ordinary, and invites us to witness the
virtual in the real. If McCartney's soundwalks exalt and virtualize the
"real" sounds of our everyday experiences,  Bill Vorn's robotic
installations do the opposite. Inhabiting an artificial environment of
violent sounds and flashing lights, his animated, often menacing,
automatons create a virtual danger.  Charging towards us, the life-like
creatures are capable of charging us with anxiety. Though they evoke
certain reactions, we also recognize their virtuality.  As illusory
life-forms, we know that,  once the electric current is cut,  they die.
Bringing us to the very limits of the real and the virtual, the living and
the non-living, Vorn's reactive environments, like the sonar places of
McCartney, situate us in that experiential space where one negotiate the two.

With hindsight, I realize that the day of the conference was itself quite
auspicious. As is quite usual in mid-February, Montreal had, overnight,
become blanketed in a thick layer of snow, slowing down considerably the
usual quick pace of the city.   Heading towards the museum, one encountered
long trails of swollen white automobiles with slowly blinking wipers.  Like
harmless robotic creatures  sapped of energy, they seemed to be slowly
dying.   It was one of those sunny winter days when the snow gleamed very
brightly, casting a  spectacular light on the familiar.  The usually sedate
and elegant Sherbrooke Street was  transformed, assuming the air of a
playground as scarved and parkad pedestrians climbed clumsily over huge
snow banks or inched their way in single file over unplowed sidewalks.
Memories of many special "snowdays" flooded my mind, and images of winter
cityscapes painted, over the century,  by prominent Canadian painters
colored my vision of the scene.  This was the same (but different)
snow-covered Sherbrooke Street that Hugh MacLennan's protagonists walked
along so many years ago.   I wondered about the very thin line between the
real street underfoot and the one constructed, in my mind,  by fictional
characters, by Canadian painters, by historical accounts, and by my own
personal memories.   Perceiving the present through these virtual spaces,
I listened to the snow crunch with each step, I  heard my breath amplified
under my scarf and the muffled sounds of the city around me.  Conscious of
my "aural" and auratic  experience,  I recognized how my perceptions were
negotiated in the space between past and present, between the ethereal and
the material, between the virtual and the real.  What did all this have to
do with the presentations on art and new technologies heard that day at the
museum?  For me, everything.   

The artists Margot Lovejoy, Bill Vorn, David Tomas and Andra McCartney have
provided their own written accounts of  their respective presentations and
artworks.  Certainly their words will trigger very different readings and
insights for each of you.

Ernestine Daubner, who organized and hosted the conference, teaches in the
Art History Department of Concordia University and is an ISEA member.



by Margot Lovejoy

Questions  (which prompted this paper) arose for me about the construction
of meaning when I was creating  SALVAGE, my first programmed interactive
installation.   How can meaning  be negotiated in such a work? Can aura  be
related to digital  art works ? 

The decline of an artwork's aura was first discussed by Walter Benjamin in
relation to the age of mechanical reproduction seventy  years ago.1  Aura
refers to a work's origins, its source, its uniqueness.  Benjamin
maintained  (amongst other claims)  that when  an artwork is reproduced,
its function and value is changed.  It becomes more important as a form of
communication rather than as an object.  Because today's interactive forms
now make use of  electronic forms of communication themselves to create
art, I felt that a review of Benjamin's writings on aura could be useful in
thinking about the construction of meaning  in interactive  new media.
While many theorists argue that Benjamin's position of the "decline of the
aura" means a disappearance of it, others (Didi-Huberman; Bhabha) argue
that "decline" does not mean its death and refers to the development of
Benjamin's thinking about aura in several of his other writings as art's
phenomenon of remaining "uncompleted and always open". Here, he discussed
aura -in the sense of its power  to "return our gaze" and to provide an
experience which may result in insight or meaning at the level at which
feeling emerges into consciousness.  Benjamin also refers to the
"dialectical image" as existing in a "noisy  labyrinth of mediations" as a
form of negotiation --as a "breach  between experience and knowledge."
Benjamin pointed out that the  fullest extent of aura is felt when "the
person we look at or who feels he is being looked at, looks at us in
return.   To perceive the aura of the object we look at, means to invest it
with the ability  to look at us in return"2,  an interactive process. The
"power to return our gaze" of an art object is an aspect of its power to
provide an essential experience or level of feeling which may later
translate to conscious insight or meaning.

The experience of  aura  in a work is then  transposed  from  the look of
the eye to the eye of the mind. Here, a response of aura becomes
established between an artwork similar to that which has the ability to
look at us in return--to the aura as the experience of returning the gaze.
We can say then, that aura is connected to a dialogic process which occurs
between viewer and artwork where meaning may be negotiated. Critical to
this endeavour is the artist's position as a maker--based in the NOW  as
the work's auratic origin. The artist must produce new work that is an
essence, a dialectic outcome of dealing with the contemporary--not based on
another point in history.

If  up to now, art has had the ability to "return our gaze" and to bring
out in us the desire or "interest"  to participate in negotiating meaning,
new interactive technologies have heightened the means for communication
in artmaking.  Now the artist creates a work where its means are
specifically dedicated to sparking exchange and participation with the
public. Here the artist while still making the work, gives up total control
(as its author or producer)  and becomes rather its agent, overlapping with
the  intrusive one of the spectator/participant  as mediatory  agent in a
"speaking between".  The openness of an interactive work  can be discussed
in another  of Benjamin's descriptions of aura as not  the source,  "but  a
whirlpool  in the river of becoming that pulls the merging matter into its
own rhythm."  This  is a form of connection to contention, a place for
seeking --the initiation of communication.  It is this very "speaking
between,"  the social relations  in the positioning of both agents that can
clarify the effect of interactive forms.  

SALVAGE (created with Miles Dudgeon) was my first attempt to  deal with the
poetics of meaning in an interactive work and raised for me many questions.
 The theme of SALVAGE is an exploration of the power of memory to affect
and heal the present. By interactively searching through the hidden debris
of the past, viewers connect with avenues of contemplation and possibly,
transformation. The work was created in three parts, Probe, Myth, Salvage.
These projected elements slide, move, and are displaced variably in
relation to each other according to the actions of viewers within the
multi-user environment. Viewers may follow their own individual search
paths by touching mounted sensors. When one of the projected segments is
accessed and explored, the others may remain still, unless they, in turn,
are activated by viewers. The work is meditative and slow. Participants
tend to stay with it to explore its outcomes. Questions remain for me about
the quality of participants' ability to construct personal meaning in the

The artist must construct the work as an open one with an interface which
challenges  a potential range of experiences  where a "speaking between"
can take place with one or more participants at a time . The work may
foreground events which intensify the desire in the participant  to probe
the parameters of the exchange in order to initiate communication.

This position of "making" is very different from  traditional artmaking
because it alters  relations between  artist and spectator. Such a work
significantly changes the role of  each. To create the interactive work,
the artist must become its mediatory agent.  The work becomes an encounter
that has no shape in its final configuration and is meant to be a place for
persuading the initiation of communication. The greater openness of such an
interactive work both challenges the concept of aura we have been
discussing and affirms it as a "whirlpool" of interactive contentions--a
dialectic space of awakening to meaning.         

Yet  embedded  in the social agency  structure of making the technological
artwork, is a possible way of coming to insight and meaning through an
intermediary process--one we can describe as an auratic process because it
brings the spectator agent "by an unknown way" through a process where
meaning can be constructed.

The greater intermediary  role of the artist places him/her at the site of
a web of communication and community as an agent for a "speaking between"
with the  human position  of the viewer/participant.  While interactive
work may reveal its creative agency, its significance is tied to its
"interests" between spectator--an "in-between" of the type located in
action and speed we experience in negotiating  the reality of the world we
visibly share. We can call this reality "the web of the human condition."

The interactive work is incomplete without the human position of the
spectator participant who, as Bhabha states: "cannot transcend the process
of  the artwork  but is placed in the "in-between", in the midst of his or
her own production as agent, in the  very interstices of intention and

A work created as a dialogic interface capable of multiple outcomes does
not arise from the legendary "flash of inspiration" of the traditional
work. It must be constructed along lines designed to persuade communication
through participation.  However, it may still arise as a narrative
important to the  artist from personal experiences deemed to be universal.
Such experiences offer the potential for making connections about the human
position. In this cultural translation, the artist is not, however, author,
but an agent that produces stories --possibly without intentions -- which
can  reveal a path of connections.

Aside from the participant/agent located at the interstices between the
artist/agent's  process and the interpretation of the work, is the role of
the curator who seeks to evaluate  and choose which to exhibit from the
many works available.  Curators  are asking serious questions about the
seriousness of new interactive works.  Do interactive works, configured  to
challenge wide-ranging  public encounters (with no final outcome),  lose
depth? Are cultural products mandated under the rubric of postmodernism no
longer meant to do anything more than merely confront, stimulate and
entertain--a removal of any essential ground for exploring poetics in any
way? Are they too gamelike--mere entertainment? Such works raise perplexing
problems in the existing vacuum which lies between representational
traditions of the past and today's challenges to theoretical, institutional
and artistic dilemmas.  Although we have by now gone beyond painting and
still images to  include  an aesthetics of the time-based imagery of cinema
and video, western visual art still has no tradition of an aesthetic
language  delineating real time interaction. The challenges to creating
meaning in such work will be pressing up against the issues we have been

1. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
Reproduction", essay in "Illuminations", Schocken Books, 1968, New York
2. p. 188  Walter Benjamin, "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire", essay in Ibid.
3. Homi Bhabha, "Aura and Agora: On Negotiating Rapture and Speaking
Between", essay in "Negotiating Rapture", Museum of Contemporary Art,
Chicago 1996

Margot Lovejoy  is Professor of Visual Arts at the State University of New
York  at Purchase and  author of "Postmodern Currents: Art and Artists in
the Age of Electronic Media" (1997). She is also an ISEA member.



by Bill Vorn 

I have been involved with robotics since 1992, working on many different
interactive robotic installations on a creative and artistic level. I use
robotics and multimedia to pursue my research on reactive environments and
the embodiment of life in inert matter. My goal is to present robotic
machines not as virtuoso specialized automatons but rather as expressive
animated works of art. I also explore the reformulation of sound and light
applications by simulating organic and metabolic functions and by creating
dynamic virtual architectures.

I am interested into the subject of Artificial Life as a communication
media. From complete abstractions to hyper-realistic animats, from dots on
a screen to robotic machines, Artificial Life seeks to create the illusion
of life. Through different means of representation (name, visual
appearance, sound, movements, behaviors, etc.), computer and machine
automatons become creatures. While artificial lifeforms seem to be very
distinct from traditional modes of communication, messages and meanings
appear at the crossroads of the creator's intent and the user's

Bill Vorn, who has exhibited his work internationally, teaches New Media at
the Faculty of Fine Arts of Concordia University.



by David Tomas 

The traditional book is a manufactured object composed of a sequence of
printed pages protected by more or less rigid boards. This portable, highly
 standardized object is currently undergoing a radical change in the
context of digital media and the new distribution networks associated with
the internet. The purpose of "The Encoded Eye, the Archive, and its Engine
House" is to investigate the nature of the changes that the book as object
can be subject to when it is translated through digital media and projected
into a new kind of distribution space. However, "The Encoded Eye" does not
focus on transformations in the book's textual presentation in the
tradition, for example, of British Vorticist or Russian Constructivist
typographic explorations and innovations in the spatialization of words.
Instead, it explores the book's transformation as visual and cultural
object in the context of a specific architectural model of storage and
distribution while retaining a tension between the two-dimensional physical
characteristics of the printed page and the computer screen.

The Encoded Eye is based on a series of correspondences established between
two key fixtures of nineteenth century London: The Circular Reading Room of
the British Museum and the Camden Town Circular Engine-House, also known as
the Roundhouse. The Roundhouse was designed by Robert B. Dockray and his
assistant Mr. Normanville under Robert Stephenson for the North-West
Railway. It was built in 1846. The Circular Reading Room was initially
designed by Antonio Panizzi and was completed in 1857.

These architectural sites were unique and yet remarkably similar solutions
to the design of highly integrated archival or storage, retrieval, and
distribution sites for the new artifacts or new concentrations of artifacts
produced during the Industrial Revolution. The Roundhouse, the first
circular railway shed, was designed for the storage and distribution of
locomotives.  The British Museum's Circular Reading Room was designed for
the storage and distribution of print based knowledge and information.
Although both sites were designed for different kinds of artifacts (books
and locomotives) they were nevertheless linked by a common design and
similar purposes. Since both designs provided similar solutions to the
problem of storage and retrieval for an age that would radically redefine
modes of transportation and communication, they stand as important
historical references for any investigation of, or attempt to explore new
modes for the storage and retrieval of information or large scale digital
artifacts in a new information age.

"The Encoded Eye" is designed to function as an interface between the past
as represented by these two remarkably similar architectural sites and the
future as represented by the technical and aesthetic possibilities of the
internet when conceived as a medium for the production and distribution of
print and pictorial forms of knowledge. The choice of the Circular Reading
Room and Camden Roundhouse as the visual references for an internet book
was fortuitous, but also inevitable. I would like to think that it was as a
bibliophile that I visited the Circular Reading Room on the last day that
it was open to the public (the British Library having been relocated in a
new building); and I would like to think that I visited the empty space to
experience, at first hand, the visual texture of its denuded bookshelves
and unoccupied tables in the odd, hushed atmosphere of a protracted state
of momentous historical closure. Although this is partly true, my visit was
motivated by the preexisting idea of linking the two sites under the common
signs of storage and distribution. I can trace one of the idea's roots to
youthful memories of attending prominent rock concerts in the Roundhouse's
cavernous space and to the derelict site's transformation through the
amplified sounds and visual grain of an efflorescent counterculture. This
memory colored my visit to the Reading Room with the emptiness and
deracinated experience of a key historical site left to drift in the
crosswinds of history but also of its possible recuperation in the name of
revolutionary change and the future. Thus it was that the Roundhouse fused
with the Circular Reading Room's functions in a way that opened both to the
possibilities of new visual forms and distribution networks, and in
particular to those forms and networks most closely associated with the
transformation of print-based knowledge in a digital age.

David Tomas is a multimedia artist exploring the cultures and transcultures
of imaging systems.  Author of "Transcultural Space and Transcultural
Beings" (1996),  David Tomas is also Professor of Multimedia and
Interactivity in the Département d'art plastiques at the Université du
Québec à Montréal.



by Andra McCartney

Two processes of placing and webbing with sound define my multimedia
productions: processes that may seem initially to be working at
cross-purposes. Yet despite or perhaps because of this tension between the
implications of these two approaches that I call placing and webbing, they
are both important to the way I currently want to work with sound. My
multimedia pieces are based in my practice of soundwalking, the act of
walking through some area in my immediate vicinity, and listening to what
is happening there. In a soundwalk recording, I trace the sounds of
everyday life in a particular place bounded by the limits of my walk: in a
park, along a waterfront, through an industrial zone. These recordings then
become the basis of an extended meditation on the sounds of that place,
conducted over several months, which results in a multimedia installation
and website that refers to that particular place, through many different
mediated contexts.

My approach to the recording of soundwalks is very much influenced by the
work of Vancouver soundscape composer, Hildegard Westerkamp. She began to
record soundwalks in different locations in the Vancouver area, sometimes
doing readings during the soundwalk by writers such as Emily Carr,
sometimes talking to the listener about aspects of the place that were not
audible. She then played these soundwalks back to listeners on a community
radio show at Vancouver Coop Radio called "Soundwalking," during the late

In a soundwalk recording, the movements of the recordist are audible, her
presence is obvious to the listener. The recordist traces the sonic waves
washing through a place, and constructs a particular representation of
them. A soundwalk is an improvisation with the sounds of a place. When I am
recording, it is partly how well I know a place that determines the success
of a recording. Do I anticipate the weather? Do I know this sound
environment well enough to plan my walk at a time when particularly
interesting sonic juxtapositions may occur? And then there are the
surprises: an unusual sound occurs, out of the blue. Am I listening
carefully enough to respond to it? Can I let go of my pre-suppositions
about this place and go with this new situation? The power and subtlety of
a good soundwalk recording depends on my ability to respond to a sound
environment as active and full of agency, and to remain in dialogue with it.

Another aspect of placing with sound is that using focus and perspective,
the recordist can alter the hierarchy of sounds within a place. The
microphone's ability to amplify allows the recordist to discover and focus
on the subtle sonic emanations of very small sounds, those too quiet to be
heard normally, to elevate them into hearing range, to change their social
place in a soundscape, to make their previously-masked sounds audible. As a
soundwalk recordist, I thus record a very specific interaction with a
place, in which I use the microphone to record and construct a particular
experience which may alter the social places of various sounds, and within
which my motion is traced as I go.

My work takes soundwalk recordings of my experiences of different auditory
environments, and transforms them into more distributed vir

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