THE INTER-SOCIETY FOR THE ELECTRONIC ARTS ISEA NEWSLETTER ISSN1488-3635 #75 December 1999 - January 2000 _______________________________________________________________ * CONTENTS * * Editorial * ISEA News * News from Members * Feature Articles * Event Reports * _______________________________________________________________ *Une version francaise est disponible. Contacter le secretariat pour l'obtenir* ************************** EDITORIAL ************************** 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. http://www.isea.qc.ca/africa 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. http://www.itaucultural.org.br/invencao/invencao.htm 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. http://www.isea.qc.ca/carto 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 ************************** ISEA NEWS ************************** NOTES FROM HQ 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. AGM HIGHLIGHTS 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 funding. 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. ************************** NEWS FROM 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. http://www.walkerart.org/gallery9/soniccircuits/ * 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. http://www.art.uiuc.edu/@art * 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. http://www.chantslibres.org/ ************************** FEATURE ARTICLES ************************** SATELLITE VISIONS: A Look Back at Cartographies Montreal, Canada 12-14 October, 1999 by Bernard Schütze THREE ORBITS, THREE SATELLITE VISIONS OF NEW MEDIA TERRITORIES 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. II. 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. III. 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 practices. 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 territory. 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. SATELLITE SIGNAL TRIANGULATION TO DETERMINE LOCATIONS ON EARTH 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 territories. 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 examples. 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 position. 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. ************************** EVENT REPORTS ************************** 4e Manifestiation internationale video et art electronique Montreal, Canada September 20-27, 1999 http://www.champlibre.com 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 http://www.comm.uqam.ca/acreq 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! ***** ARTSCI'99 New York, USA November 13-14, 1999 http://www.asci.org/artsci99 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 http://www.chantslibres.org 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 (FCMM) Montreal, Canada 14 - 24 Octobre, 1999 http://www.fcmm.com 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 talks. 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 Bus". 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. ************************** JOBS AND CALLS ************************** 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. 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